One Dance With a Duke by Tessa Dare

So…I’ve been waiting for this book to come out for the better part of the year…

Then, it came out.

And what did I do?

I finished it the day I bought…which happened to be the day it came out!

Okay, first background on Tessa Dare.  She’s a part-time librarian, a mommy, a wife, and an author.  (A lot of new novelists seem to be or have a history being librarians.) Her debut into the regency noveling world was last year (2009).  Not with a debut novel, but a debut TRILOGY.  My friend and I were browsing Amazon.com and we stumbled onto the first in the trilogy, loved the synopsis and had to add it to our “To Be Read” list.  (By the way, that list has by no means shrunk.)

“A handsome and reclusive horse breeder, Spencer Dumarque, the fourth Duke of Morland, is a member of the exclusive Stud Club, an organization so select it has only ten members—yet membership is attainable to anyone with luck. And Spencer has plenty of it, along with an obsession with a prize horse, a dark secret, and, now, a reputation as the dashing “Duke of Midnight.” Each evening he selects one lady for a breathtaking midnight waltz. But none of the women catch his interest, and nobody ever bests the duke—until Lady Amelia d’Orsay tries her luck.

In a moment of desperation, the unconventional beauty claims the duke’s dance and unwittingly steals his heart. When Amelia demands that Spencer forgive her scapegrace brother’s debts, she never imagines that her game of wits and words will lead to breathless passion and a steamy proposal. Still, Spencer is a man of mystery, perhaps connected to the shocking murder of the Stud Club’s founder. Will Amelia lose her heart in this reckless wager or win everlasting love?”

The whole series is centered around a horse.  Yes, a HORSE.  Hence, the pun-y title of the trilogy “The Stud Club”.  This guy, Leo Chatwick, started a club with 10 tokens that can only be one through a game of chance – not bought, stolen, or whatever – ONLY CHANCE.  The novels start out with poor murder.  Three members of the club, Spencer (hero of ODWD), Rhys St. Maur, and Julian Bellamy – each of whom have distinct, explosive, REAL personalities – convene and attempt to find Leo’s murderer.  That is the essential, underlying plot of the series.

Now, One Dance With a Duke.  Ready for my confusing contradictions?

Spencer, the Duke of Morland is a complete and utter a**, but he’s a gentleman about it so that makes it okay.

Amelia d’Orsay is an oblivious, nagging woman, but it’s all out of love and caring, so again, it’s okay.

Spencer aka the Duke of Morland aka the Duke of Midnight is a three dimensional character that has heart, barriers, and something I can’t quite place.  Amelia annoyed me at first, but because I have been in a few of her situations and know people who face the dilemmas she did, I was able to relate.  I’m not sure how MANY people can say the same, but it worked for this novel because the character development was well written.

Amelia loves her family and would do anything for them.  ANYTHING.  She would sacrifice herself for her brothers.  Now, with a heroine like that, there’s bound to be tension with the hero.  How many married couples have arguments because of in-laws?  Uh, ALL OF THEM?!    The book deals with tangible issues that – because it’s target audience is women and many of those woman are married – it is successful.

Julian, the secondary character, he bothered me.  A lot.  His initial suspicions were fine.  Half-way through the book I was still okay with it because he wasn’t around for much of it.  But, the by the end, I was like “Come on! OPEN YOUR EYES!”

Spencer is one of the best written Dukes of the Regency Era, I’ve ever read.  There’s a fine balance between reality and fiction and I can’t help but think Tessa found it.  *Pout* I can only wish I could write like Tessa.  The writing flows, the imagery pulls you in, the characters leave you wanting more, the plot is creative, the secondary characters add, not distract to the plot.  She’s just amazing.

Now, a year later, not only does Tessa have a follow-up trilogy (The Stud Club), she also made a ridiculously funny trailer to accompany the release of her novels.

In her first trilogy, while the story and writing were amazing, it was easy to forget you were in the Regency era.  But, with this new trilogy, there’s a marked difference in her writing – an improvement – that firmly plants, and keeps the reader in the time period without making it suffocating.

The thing I like most about Tessa Dare’s writing is that not everything is neatly wrapped up with a pretty bow on it.  Yes, the characters get their happy endings, but there are also unresolved issues that would take more that 350pgs to fix.  She leaves it a bit open ended and shows that just because people are married doesn’t mean their problems simply disappear.

There’s a lot that can be said about this book, but there isn’t much I can tell without spoilers.  So, go read and come back and discuss with me!

This was supposed to be up a while ago, but…things happened.  Anyway, here it is and I hope anyone reading picks it up!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE Spencer.

I definitely agree with Noelle Pierce: “And she’s quite nice, too!”  Tessa is a ridiculously nice person who actually responds to e-mails and messages sent to her.  I questioned her character build-up of Lily – not because I think I’m a know-it-all or anything – but because I know there wasn’t much information on people with Lily’s specific impairment during the time.  Since, I WOULD LIKE TO go into that field as an interpreter, I was curious about the portrayal.  I emailed her and she responded the next day!  Not only answering my question, but also offering her sources and an invitation to message her again once I read the third novel.

Sigh, I just hope she doesn’t get TOO FAMOUS one day.  Not because I begrudge her success, but I want her to still respond and keep the communication with her fans.

(I still need to finish Twice Tempted by a Rogue.  Right after I finish The Darkest Lie by Gena Showalter.)

Rating: 4 ½ out of 5 stars! (That’s my highest so far!) GO GO GO GO GET IT!!!!

(Btw, her covers mean SO MUCH more once you finish the novels)

PS

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