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Autumn, 1815

When they’d entered Swinford Woods, laughing and making merry, passing around a flask of spirits “for warmth”, Denny had offered a forfeit to the first hunter to spot the beast. His last bottle of apple brandy from the pressing two years past.

Well, it would appear Cecily had won. It seemed doubtful, however, that she would survive to claim her prize.

Peering through the darkness, she studied her quarry. Dark, beady eyes regarded her around an elongated nose. The curved, lethal tip of a horn glittered in the moonlight. The creature’s rank, gamy odor assaulted her, even from several paces away.

The animal impatiently pawed the leaf-strewn forest floor, fixing her all the while with an offended glare. Good heavens, it was enormous. It must outweigh her by ten stone, at least.

She didn’t know what to do. Should she run? Climb a tree? Feign death and hope it lost interest and went away? She’d become separated from the others some ways back—stupid, stupid. Would they even hear her, if she called?

“Denny?” she ventured. The animal cocked its head, and Cecily cleared her throat to try again. “Portia? Mr. Brooke?”

The beast shuffled toward her, great slabs of muscle flexing beneath its hoary coat.

“Not you,” she told it, taking a quick step back. “Shoo. Go home.”

It bristled and snarled, revealing a narrow row of jagged teeth. Moonlight pooled like liquid around its massive jaw. Good Lord, the thing was drooling.

Truly panicked now, she drew … Read More »

“This standout Regency romance, the first in Dare’s Stud Club trilogy, matches an unlikely heroine with an arrogant, secretive duke… Amelia’s imperfections endear her to both the reader and her husband, while Spencer’s complexity of character sets him well beyond the typical aristocrat and a little bit of a murder mystery adds the perfect finishing touch.”

~Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

“Dare’s first book in The Stud Club trilogy enhances her reputation for great stories, three-dimensional characters, passion and poignancy… Once again, Dare raises the bar for excellence in historical romance.”

~Top Pick!, RT Book Reviews

“A sharp-witted and sharp-tongued heroine matches wits and romantic wiles with a sinfully sexy hero.”

~John Charles, ChicagoTribune.com

“I loved watching Amelia and Spencer’s relationship form into an everlasting, believable love story… I enjoyed many laughs at their banter, but my heartstrings were tugged as they both had to struggle to learn to love and accept each other, flaws and all. This is one of the few stories that I hated to see come to an end.”

~5/5 Stars, Night Owl Reviews

“Tessa Dare is a gifted writer and has plotted a story that is totally unique. I completely enjoyed both Amelia and Spencer.”

~Fresh FictionRead More »

London, June 1817

Blackberry glaze.

Biting the inside of her cheek, Amelia d’Orsay suppressed a small cry of jubilation. Even at a rout like this one, a well-bred lady’s abrupt shout of joy was likely to draw notice, and Amelia did not care to explain herself to the crush of young ladies surrounding her. Especially when the reason for her delight was not a triumph at the card table or a proposal of marriage, but rather the completion of a dinner menu.

She could imagine it now. “Oh, Lady Amelia,” one of these young misses would say, “only you could think of food at a time like this.”

Well, it wasn’t as though Amelia had planned to stand in a ballroom, dreaming of menus for their family summer holiday. But she’d been puzzling for weeks over a new sauce for braised pheasant, to replace the same old applejack reduction. Something sweet, yet tart; surprising, yet familiar; inventive, yet frugal. At last, the answer had come to her. Blackberry glaze. Strained, of course. Ooh, perhaps mulled with cloves.

Resolving to enter it in her menu book later, she swept the imaginary dish aside and compressed her grin to a half-smile. Summer at Briarbank would now officially be perfect.

Mrs. Bunscombe brushed past in a flounce of scarlet silk. “It’s half eleven,” the hostess sang. “Nearly midnight.”

Nearly midnight. Now there was a thought to quell her exuberance.

A cherub-faced debutante swaddled in tulle grasped Amelia by the wrist. “Any moment now. … Read More »

“Dare pairs up an educated spinster and a wounded hero in this delightful Regency, the first in the Spindle Cove series… Enticing romantic encounters are matched by witty conversations that slowly and seamlessly reveal deep truths about Dare’s endearing one-of-a-kind characters.”

~Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“Dare has struck just the right chord with readers. Her light yet fascinating plots, disarming characters, sense of humor and sensuality enthrall.”

~RT Book Reviews, Top Pick!

“Lively and sexy, this funny, enjoyable battle of the sexes ensnares readers in a delightful adventure.”

~Library Journal

“Such a delight that readers will find themselves surrendering to its charms!”

~A Perfect Romance

“Tessa Dare never fails to write a splendid read.”

~Romance JunkiesRead More »

Sussex, England
Summer 1813

Bram stared into a pair of wide, dark eyes. Eyes that reflected a surprising glimmer of intelligence. This might be the rare female a man could reason with.

“Now, then,” he said. “We can do this the easy way, or we can make things difficult.”

With a soft snort, she turned her head. It was as if he’d ceased to exist.

Bram shifted his weight to his good leg, feeling the stab to his pride. He was a lieutenant colonel in the British Army, and at over six feet tall, he was said to cut an imposing figure. Typically, a pointed glance from his quarter would quell the slightest hint of disobedience. He was not accustomed to being ignored.

“Listen sharp, now.” He gave her ear a rough tweak and sank his voice to a low threat. “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll do as I say.”

Though she spoke not a word, her reply was clear: You can kiss my great woolly arse.

Confounded sheep.

“Ah, the English countryside. So charming. So . . . fragrant.” Colin approached, stripped of his London-best topcoat, wading hip-deep through the river of wool. Blotting the sheen of perspiration from his brow with a handkerchief, he asked, “I don’t suppose this means we can simply turn back?”

Ahead of them, a boy pushing a handcart had overturned his cargo, strewing corn all over the road. It was an open buffet, and every ram and ewe in … Read More »

Mr. and Mrs. Bartholomew Cade
request the pleasure of your company
at a ball in celebration of their daughter Margaret
and her engagement to Sir Roland Farnsworth.
Cade House, Grosvenor Square
On the twenty-sixth evening of April, 1810

“Isn’t it romantic?” Georgie asked. “He and Margaret make such a fine couple.”

“I suppose,” Eliza said, trying to be diplomatic.

She angled herself for a better look. By peeking through a gap in the double doors, she just could manage a glimpse of the dancers.

Sir Roland Farnsworth wasn’t exactly Eliza’s picture of romance. He wasn’t even her picture of a desirable brother-in-law. He was more staid and cautious than men his age should be. He didn’t whisper sweet words to Margaret as he turned her about the room. In Eliza’s observation, he didn’t engage Margaret—or any female—in much conversation at all.

But all this, she could forgive—if he weren’t so dreadfully slow.

“He certainly took his time proposing,” she said. “Snails mate faster than Farnsworths.”

Georgie gave her a chastening look. “Eliza.”

“Well, it’s true. I’ve watched.”

“You’ve spied on Sir Roland?”

“No, I’ve spied on snails.”

Her sister just shook her head in that way that said, Honestly, Eliza.

She pressed her brow to the slender gap between the doors again, peering hard at the colorful whirl of gentlemen and ladies. On nights like tonight, it seemed this was the closest she would ever come to dancing among them. She was eighteen years old and still sneaking glimpses through … Read More »

In December of 1813, the officers’ ball had a profound effect on Spindle Cove’s economy. Seeing as how the village was mostly women, certain commodities ran scarce.

Hairpins, for one. Ribbons, for another. Curling papers came at a premium.

And corners. Corners were the scarcest thing of all.

Because there were only four in any given ballroom, and here in Spindle Cove, so many ladies were drawn to them.

As an experienced wallflower, Violet Winterbottom knew to stake her ground and guard it.

She’d claimed her niche on arrival. A comfortable alcove of the Summerfield grand hall, lightly scented with a hanging bayberry wreath and conveniently situated near the bowl of mulled wine.

“Why are you hiding in the corner, Violet?” Kate Taylor approached and took her by the arm. Lively and sensible, Kate was the Cove’s resident music tutor. “It’s Christmas. You should dance.”

Violet resisted with a smile. “Thank you. I’m happy here.”

Kate raised an eyebrow. “Are you really?”

Violet shrugged. In superficial characteristics, she didn’t fit the wallflower mold. She was a young lady of good family, possessed of a generous dowry, and she was—if not a legendary beauty—passably fair in candlelight. Her accomplishments in music and drawing didn’t merit any boasting, but she did speak six modern languages and could read several dead ones. She wasn’t clumsy or jaundiced or afflicted with a lisp.

And yet…she spent a great deal of time in the corner. More than ever, since The Disappointment.

“Let’s find you a … Read More »

CHAPTER ONE

Griff cracked open a single eyelid. A bright stab of pain told him he’d made a grave mistake. He quickly shut his eyes again and put a hand over them, groaning.

Something had gone horribly wrong.

He needed a shave. He needed a bath. He might need to be sick. Attempts to summon any recollection of the previous evening resulted in another sharp slice of agony.

He tried to ignore the throb in his temples and focused on the tufted, plush surface under his back. It wasn’t his bed. Perhaps not even a bed at all. Was it just a trick of his nausea, or was the damned thing moving?

“Griff.” The voice came to him through a thick, murky haze. It was muffled, but unmistakably female.

God’s knees, Halford. The next time you decide to bed a woman after a months-long drought, at least stay sober enough to remember it afterward. 

He cursed his stupidity. The epic duration of his celibacy was no doubt the reason he’d been tempted by … whoever she was. He had no idea of her name or her face. Just a vague impression of a feminine presence nearby. He inhaled and smelled perfume of an indeterminate, expensive sort.

Damn. He’d need jewels to get out of this, no doubt.

Something dull and pointed jabbed his side. “Wake up.”

Did he know that voice? Keeping one hand clapped over his eyes, he fumbled about with the other hand. He caught a handful of … Read More »

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