A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare
Spindle Cove #1
With great annoyance at myself I inform you that this is the first Tessa Dare I have read, and I don’t know what took me so long. Because Dare is very, very good.
Dare writes Regency romance, which is my absolute favourite romance subgenre and demands a certain air and wit to gain approval from readership. Dare is definitely spot-on. She is amusing, and her prose is easy to read but doesn’t have the surface-y quality that often annoys me in romance fiction. She’s not overly descriptive, either, and apart from one sex scene and a couple of chapter divisions I found the pace pretty much perfect.
Now, I have just spent several months musing on romance studies, and what has cropped a lot is the merging of feminine and masculine experiences of life. This book is exactly that, even a little too explicitly to my tastes. Bram, the officer hero and newly-minted earl, is a raw-raw-I-am-man Alpha who refuses to admit to any softer feelings in himself; the heroine, Susanna, is a protector of young misfit ladies and protects her flock from the scorn of patriarchy, which, as you can guess, takes quite a strong character. She also dabbles in healing, which is her strongest single feminine aspect. In order for these two to form a working relationship, they must come to terms with themselves. Their chemistry is wonderful and I buy it entirely. It does not feel pasted on, but genuine, and the reasoning behind the development of their relationship is solid and believable. And oh, the way they don’t engage in overt struggling and sighing and outside barriers is positively refreshing!
But before I turn this into an essay, let’s move on. My biggest problem with this book is the explicit way the feminist message is delivered – I prefer more subtlety, although I really can’t fault a book for a good cause. And since the scenes where the issues of women’s needs and possibilities and prospects are discussed fit the plot and the situations, I haven’t let this affect my rating much.
There are so many things going on in this book I feel it would warrant another read before I could actually explain it all, but there will be a better time for that. For now I will say that I will absolutely be adding Dare to my list of Regency romance authors to keep an eye out for!
I want to end this review with a couple of my favourite things in this novel. First, the way in which the heroes the three first novels are introduced! I don’t want to spoil it for you, but suffice to say they do something absurd and rather funny, and you can easily picture them as 5-year-olds instead of grown men. Second, there is a sheep in this book, and I hope he makes appearances in the next ones as well! Third, I’m already in love with most of the side characters who are going to be main characters, which I think is an excellent sign! The next book’s couple is also excellently prepped in this book. And fourth – there is an Old Spice reference. Yes. I kid you not. I laughed for five minutes before going back to reading.
Four out of five stars to this series starter! Warmly recommended, and I’m going to read more!
EDIT: I have learned that A Night to Surrender was chosen as the Best Regency Historical Romance in 2012 – a decision I can get behind!