Reading & Reviewing Every Tessa Dare Book, In One Month (Part 1)(Mini-reviews)

Reading and reviewing every Tessa Dare novel

Yes, you heard me right.

On January 5, 2020, I began my mission to read every Tessa Dare book. Now, I didn’t actually have that as a goal when I picked up Do You Want To Start A Scandal, but once I started, I couldn’t stop. And now we’re here.

First, the truth:

  • I haven’t read every Tessa Dare book yet. I actually plan on making this a two-part series. This is part 1, where I talk about the 14 of her books I have read. I will add a part 2 once I finish the rest.
  • I had already read 3 of her books before starting this, but I do plan on rereading them for part 2!
  • All the books in part 1 were read in a month, but there might be a break between part 1 and part 2. Doing this made me fall a bit behind in my TBR, so I need to take some time to catch up before continuing.
  • I will be including any novellas that are sold separately from anthologies.
  • There are a lot of books to talk about, so the reviews won’t be my normal, full length reviews. Instead, they’ll be quick mini reviews. I may make full length reviews for some of the books eventually, but not today.

I’m sorry for the clickbait-y title, but if you can forgive me, we should probably get started on those reviews!

[ Related: 12 Summer Romances (6 YA + 6 Adult) ]

Read more to see what Tessa Dare books I read, and my thoughts on all of them individually, as well as as a whole!

Previous Reads

Here are the books I read several years ago, before starting this challenge. They were actually my first Regency Romance reads. I’ve reread one of them early last year, but I haven’t reread any of them yet for the challenge. Because of that, my reviews will be even shorter. I’ll write longer reviews in part 2 after I reread them! I also have a feeling that after my rereads, my thoughts may change, since now I’m a huge fan on the genre, where before I was skeptical.

Romancing the Duke

Series: Castles Ever After #1
Page Count: 370 pages
Trigger Warning: Violence
Rating: 3 Stars
Review: This book was the weakest in the series for me. I didn’t connect with the hero and the heroine as much as I would have liked, and while the story is very Beauty and the Beast-esque, I feel like Tessa Dare has other books with similar tropes that are better. That said, I still really enjoyed it! I especially loved Isolde’s background with her late father being such a famous author and her growing up with that. I also appreciated the disability representation!

“Why must this be so mortifying? Oh, that’s right. Because its my life.”


Say Yes to the Marquess

Series: Castles Ever After #2
Page Count: 374 pages
Trigger Warning: Violence, body shaming (mention)
Rating: 4 Stars
Review: First off- A+ title. I love it so much. I really liked our hero and heroine in this one. Clio, has been engaged to Piers Brandon for 8 years, but with him constantly wandering the globe, she is ready to break it off. Rafe is Piers’ brother, a prizefighter, who will do anything to make sure Clio marries his brother. I loved the forbidden romance aspect, and how while it technically could be called a love triangle, there really isn’t one.

“Just because they’re family doesn’t mean they won’t hurt you. It means they know how to cut deep.”

When A Scot Ties the Knot

Series: Castles Ever After #3
Page Count: 384 pages
Trigger Warning: PTSD, death of a child (mention).
Rating: 5 Stars
Review: This was my first Tessa Dare book, and I couldn’t have picked a better one to start with. The premise alone is hilarious- to avoid her London season, Madeline invents a suitor, Captain MacKenzie, and writes to him. After some time, she claims he died in battle so that she can avoid London society altogether. But years later, a real Captain MacKenzie shows up on her doorstep after receiving all of her letters. This book is hilarious, the dynamic between the two main characters is absolutely perfect, and it has all the best tropes. There’s even Fake Marriage! This is possibly my all-time favorite historical romance.

“I think you underestimate my capacity for taking normal human interaction and making it awkward.”

I feel called out

[ Related: Well Met by Jen DeLuca – Not Your Typical Fairytale Romance (Review) ]

The Challenge

Here is where the challenge really began. These were all of the books I read, starting on January 5th and ending on February 5th.

Do You Want To Start A Scandal

Series: Spindle Cove #5, Castles Ever After #4
Date Finished: January 6th
Trigger Warning: Fire, suicide (mention), death (mention)
Page Count
: 387 pages
Rating: 5 Stars
Review: When Charlotte and Piers find themselves blamed for some *noises* that were heard, Piers proposes marriage to save Charlotte from ruin, but Charlotte doesn’t want a loveless marriage, and instead decides to find out who the true sources of the noise were. The premise is really fun, but it was definitely the characters that made this book stand out for me. After Say Yes to the Marquess, I honestly wasn’t that excited for a Piers book, but this one surprised me. Piers turned out to be a really interesting character, and felt very distinct from Tessa Dare’s usual brooding heroes. He’s a little more morally gray and I found that really interesting. And Charlotte was another fantastic protagonist. I especially loved how smart she was and the standards she set for herself.

“I’m an optimist. You always think the worst. I keep everything jumbled out in the open; you file it all neatly away. I see the glass half full. You see it riddled with poison.”

A Night To Surrender

Series: Spindle Cove #1
Page Count: 450 pages
Date Finished: January 9th
Trigger Warning: Amputation, war themes, bloodletting
Rating: 4 Stars
Review: Victor Bramwell is now the Earl of Rycliff and has orders to gather a militia. But Susanna Finch will do anything to keep Spindle Cove, a haven for young women and girls with nowhere else to go, the peaceful utopia it is. This book definitely has one of the best meet cutes, it was hilarious, and that humor continues thoughout the entire book. Susanna and Bram’s romance was adorable, if not a little repetitive at times. Overall, I really did like this book, and it’s a strong start for the series.

“How is it you’ve never married?” A soft splash. “It’s an easy enough thing. Every morning I wake up, go about my day, and return to bed at night without having recited marriage vows. After several years, I have the trick of it down.”

The sass. Iconic.

A Week To Be Wicked

Series: Spindle Cove #2
Page Count: 430 pages
Date Finished:
January 14th
Trigger Warning: PTSD, panic attacks, anxiety, violence, gun violence, death (mention)
5 Stars
For Minerva Highwood, faking an elopement with notorious rake Colin Sandhurt kills two birds with one stone: it gives her a way to get to Scotland, and it prevents him courting her sister who she would do anything to protect. Cue a week long, 400 mile journey. I adored this book. Colin is definitely my favorite of the three main Spindle Cove men, he’s hilarious, an absolute sweetheart, and he has a the most entertaining habit of inventing stories and getting Minerva to go along with it. It’s like the ultimate improv game. Minerva is another amazing character. I loved her dedication to her family, her passion for geology, and just how smart she was. However, it’s the two of them together that I loved the most. They develop a strong friendship alongside a romance that made them my favorite couple in this series.

“Is it truly so unfathomable, that an imperfect girl might be perfectly loved?”

Beauty and the Blacksmith

Series: Spindle Cove #3.5
Page Count: 224 pages
Date Finished:
January 14th
Trigger Warning: Gun violence
3 Stars
I know I read these out of order, but I just had to read Diana’s story. This is a novella, but definitely a longer one. As I mentioned, this is Diana’s story. However, Diana doesn’t want a duke or lord like her mother wishes for her. No, she only has eyes for the blacksmith, Aaron Dawes. I loved the premise and the idea of their relationship, but when I was reading it, I just didn’t find myself loving it as much as I had hoped. The characters are kinda basic, lacking the quirks of the typical Tessa Dare protagonist, and the romance itself feels rushed. I couldn’t really find myself believing it. That said, I still had fun reading it!

“Some days, she decided, freedom meant the wind in your hair and the sun on your face and lips swollen with forbidden kisses. And other days, freedom meant killing an eel.”

A Lady By Midnight

Series: Spindle Cove #3
Page Count: 374 pages
Trigger Warning: Violence, PTSD, childhood trauma, incarceration
Date Finished:
January 17th
3 Stars
This book is about Kate and Thorne. Kate was orphaned and left at a school when she was a child, with no memory of her life before that. Now, she wants to know. She also knows that Thorne doesn’t like her, but what she doesn’t realize is that the reason he avoids her is linked to her mysterious past. This book gives me major Anastasia vibes, which I love, and theres an adorable dog, but overall I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I did others in the series. The main reason lies in Kate and Thorne and characters. I just didn’t love their relationship, and Thorne did a bit too much angsty brooding for my tastes. However, the side characters in this book were really fun, and there is even a LGBTQ+ side character who I loved!!

“Kate realized she had a grave problem. She was infatuated. Or mildly insane. Possibly both.”

The Duchess Deal

Series: Girl Meets Duke #1
Page Count: 389 pages
Trigger Warning: PTSD, war themes (mention)
Date Finished:
January 19th
4.5 Stars
Moving onto a new series! (Don’t worry, we return to Spindle Cove soon). I heard a lot about this book, so I had pretty high expectations. I don’t think it quite met those expectations, but I still really, really enjoyed it. This book follows Emma, a seamstress, who goes to the Duke of Ashbury demanding payment, and instead recieves an offer of a marriage of convenience. I love this trope, I really do. It’s always so fun to read, and this book is no exception. I loved the hero and heroine- their banter was hilarious and their relationship was adorable. They both had issues to work out (Ash especially) and it was great seeing them learn to overcome. My one main complaint is that everyone’s reactions to the Duke’s scars are very intense, and a little hard to believe sometimes.

Most of the time, a girl needed to rescue herself.

Any Duchess Will Do

Series: Spindle Cove #4
Page Count: 384 pages
Trigger Warning: Infant death (mention), child abuse, ableism
Date Finished:
January 26th
5 Stars
I loved this book. It’s basically a regency My Fair Lady mixed with a bit of Cinderella. Griff, a Duke, is asked by his mother to select any lady in Spindle Cove to marry, and she’ll turn her into a duchess. Griff decides to pick the serving girl, Pauline. Pauline dreams of opening a bookshop, and when Griff offers to pay her to spend a week failing at his mother’s duchess training, she agrees. This book has a fun and entertaining premise, that led to a lot of hilarious moments, but what I really loved was the characters. Pauline has so much heart, and I loved how much she wanted to help while dealing with her own insecurities. She has a very strong relationship with her sister, which was great to see too. Griff is very grounded, with a painful secret. It was really great seeing such vulnerability and depth in our hero. Also, the angst in this book really hits hard, in amazing contrast to the humor.

“For once in her life she wouldn’t be failing at success. She’d be succeeding at failure.”

that’s the dream

The Governess Game

Series: Girl Meets Duke #2
Page Count: 384 pages
Trigger Warning: Death (mention), Illness, PTSD, sexual harassment
Date Finished:
January 29th
4.5 Stars
Chase needs a new governess for his two wards, so he hires Alexandra. But Alexandra doesn’t think the girls needs discipline, but instead they need to know they’re loved. The dynamic between Alexandra and the two girls was really amazing, and I loved how the girls were never sidelined to focus on the romance, and instead are well-developed characters with their own arcs. That said, the romance is equally amazing. Chase is such an entertaining hero (and when he interacts with Ash? Hilarious), and Alexandra is a compelling heroine as well.

She would not participate in transforming them into well-mannered, empty-headed, docile young ladies who wouldn’t cause him any trouble. She’d help them become women who couldn’t be ignored.

The Wallflower Wager

Series: Girl Meets Duke #3
Page Count: 384 pages
Trigger Warning: Sexual assault (mention), rape (mention), pedophilia (mention), violence
Date Finished:
February 2nd
4.5 Stars
Chase and Ash’s friendship gives me life. I just need to say that before talking about the rest of this book. Gabe is the Duke of Ruin, able financially destroy anyone if he puts his mind to it. And now, he’s Lady Penelope’s neighbor, looking to flip the house he bought. But to get the most profit off of the house, he needs Penelope to get rid of her small zoo of pets, which means he needs to find them homes. Penny just might be my favorite heroine in this series, her love of animals and all things wounded is so sweet, but she can definitely hold her own. Gabe definitely doesn’t have the same heart of gold, but that just made his interactions with the animals and Penny even more fun. This book definitely has a lot of heart, humor, and adorableness.

“No one can be reduced to numbers in a ledger, or a stack of banknotes, or a single silver coin. We are humans, with souls and hearts and passion and love. Every last one of us is priceless. Even you.”

Everyone needs a Penny in their life to bring that unconditional love and support. An icon.

Once Upon A Winter’s Eve

Series: Spindle Cove #1.5
Page Count: 116 pages
Trigger Warning: Violence, war themes
Date Finished:
February 5th
2.5 Stars
The Spindle Cove Christmas ball is interrupted when a mysterious stranger comes into the ballroom and falls at Violet’s feet, looking like an absolute wreck and speaking in a foreign language only Violet understands. Violet has one night to find out if this man is a spy, or possibly connected to her past. This is a short novella, which leads it to feel a little rushed with all of the character backstory thrown in. But that backstory is definitely necessary. I just felt a little disappointed with this one, the direction it went in was a little predictable, and the relationship between the hero and the heroine just didn’t work for me. I honestly didn’t really care for either character.

“Language was a vast, complicated tapestry. The key to communication was finding a common thread.”

Lord Dashwood Missed Out

Series: Spindle Cove #4.5
Page Count: 144 pages
Trigger Warning: Death (mention)
Date Finished:
February 5th
4 Stars
So, I’m really learning that novella’s aren’t my thing, however, I had a lot more fun with this one than the others. Elinora had her heart broken, and in return, she wrote a pamphlet- Lord Ashwood Missed Out – and it became an instant bestseller. On her way to Spindle Cove for an appearance, she ends up in a coach with Lord Dashwood, the pamphlet’s inspiration. I love the premise of this novella, Dashwood is rightfully upset at Nora, but he isn’t exactly guilt free himself. I loved how it discussed the two characters coping with grief, and had tender moments while also having the classic Tessa Dare humor. Also, we get some cameos from a previous pair and it made my day!

“There were parts of her spun from floss and held together with hope – and those bits were fragile indeed.”

And there we are. 14 Tessa Dare books (3 being novellas), and 14 reviews. I think it’s pretty obvious that I like her books. My only complaint is that, while she’s been adding more diversity when it comes to disabilities and LGBTQ+ characters (side characters, but still), her heroes and heroines are all very, very white. I get why, given that she writes regency novels and the ton was very, very white, but I would love to see more diversity in her lineup, even if it’s more diverse secondary characters.

That said, her books are really good, and really addictive. Her writing is easy to jump into, with hilarious banter and the cutest romance. I don’t think I’ve ever regretted reading one of her books. They’re the perfect book hangover cures, although they may get you started on a regency romance binge like they did for me.

I still have around 9-10 books and novellas left to read, so expect a part 2 in the future!! Also, the fourth Girl Meets Duke novel, The Bride Bet, comes out this August, so you can definitely expect a review then!

I have two questions for you:

1. What is your favorite Tessa Dare book (if you have one)?
2. Who is your favorite romance author?

Once I finish these books, I’ll need a new regency romance author to binge, so if you have any recommendations, I would really appreciate it!

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6 responses to “Reading & Reviewing Every Tessa Dare Book, In One Month (Part 1)(Mini-reviews)”

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