Once Upon a Winter's Eve

Tessa Dare
Once Upon a Winter's Eve
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Samhain Publishing
Release Date
November 2011
Historical Romance

Violet Winterbottom is a quiet girl. She speaks six languages, but seldom raises her voice. She endured bitter heartbreak in perfect silence. The gentlemen aren't beating down her door.

Until the night of the Spindle Cove Christmas ball, when a mysterious stranger crashes into the ballroom and collapses at Violet's feet. His coarse attire and near-criminal good looks would put any sensible young lady on her guard. He's wet, chilled, bleeding, and speaking in an unfamiliar tongue.

Only Violet understands him. And she knows he's not what he seems.

She has one night to draw forth the secrets of this dangerously handsome rogue. Is he a smuggler? A fugitive? An enemy spy? She needs answers by sunrise, but her captive would rather seduce than confess. To learn his secrets, Violet must reveal hers—and open herself to adventure, passion, and the unthinkable... Love.

Book Review by Ashia (reviewer)
Dec 29, 2012   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
152 people found the following review helpful
Another keeper from Tessa Dare! She crafts characters that worm their way into your hearts, hook their nails in and stay for a long visit.

Violet Winterbottom suffered The Disappointment, which was why she was in Spindle Cove, a place for spinsters. After a year in hiding, her family was exasperated with her and was calling her back to London in order to marry her off. On the eve of her departure, at a Christmas ball, an injured stranger crashed the ball and collapsed at her feet. He was speaking a strange language, and only Violet, who knew at least 6 languages, could decipher what he said. Also, he looked strangely familiar. Could he be...?

I read with bated breath as I strove to find out the answers together with Violet. Could he be The Disappointment? But how had this happened when he was in the West Indies, half a world away?

I just absolutely love how strong Violet is--especially when she turned the tables on the hero, and toward the end, what she did before she bid him goodbye, and when she was waiting for him among the glittering ton. It is to the credit of the author's superb writing talent that I could feel the emotions of the characters as the situation played out, especially toward the end, there at the cove. That was especially poignant and yet powerful at the same time. And also as the hero rowed away, thinking, "You are my life's bright star."

That part was especially good, so I re-read it again several days later, and I still feel the same way about it. The way they support each other, made the other better, if this isn't love, what is?

Re the hero, I will try hard not to give away spoilers, but suffice it to say I can understand why he would be The Disappointment, as I was quite disappointed with him, too, but he did man up and redeem himself in the end, and that's all that matters. Though he held his own, I'd have to say Violet overshadowed him and totally owned this book.

This little gem is Spindle Cove #1.5, between A Night to Surrender and A Week to Be Wicked. I'm so glad I had the chance to read this! Readers new to the series won't be lost if they start with this novella, but why not start with the first book and get to know the amazing ladies of Spindle Cove?
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Book Review by SusanRenee (reviewer)
Jan 16, 2014
132 people found the following review helpful
Violet is passably fair, speaks six modern languages (and can read a few dead ones) and the daughter of a respectable family, but since The Disappointment, she's hiding out and avoiding marriage in Spindle Cove. She is content with her wallflower status until a mysterious stranger bursts into the Christmas Ball and collapses at her feet, muttering an unknown language.

His dirty, coarse attire and good looks don't escape Violet's notice. Neither does the familiarity his presence brings her. Is he a smuggler? A French spy? A criminal? She wants answers, but the man seems bent on seduction. And Violet doesn't know if she can resist or if she even wants to.

Despite its novella length, ONCE UPON A WINTER'S EVE is engaging, full, rich and heartfelt. The characters have personalities and histories which Tessa Dare explores in a way that is never jarring or out of place. She uses a deft hand as she moves the story through nearly farcical events without ever going over the edge and becoming goofy.

Violet may be characterized as a shy wallflower, but that is really a self-assessment. When it comes down to it, she proves that there is more to her than even she knows. And her development and strength shows the reader how confidence and love can unleash a person's true potential.
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