Series: Stud Club

Review and a Giveaway: Three Nights with a Scoundrel by Tessa Dare

Posted August 2, 2010 by Holly in Giveaways, Reviews | 46 Comments

Review and a Giveaway: Three Nights with a Scoundrel by Tessa DareReviewer: Holly
Three Nights with a Scoundrel by Tessa Dare
Series: Stud Club #3
Also in this series: One Dance with a Duke, Twice Tempted by a Rogue
Published by Random House Publishing Group
Publication Date: July 27th 2010
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Historical, Regency
Pages: 368
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-half-stars

In Tessa Dare’s dazzling new trilogy, the men of the Stud Club live and play by their own rules—until passion changes the game. 

The bastard son of a nobleman, Julian Bellamy is now polished to perfection, enthralling the ton with wit and charm while clandestinely plotting to ruin the lords, ravish the ladies, and have the last laugh on a society that once spurned him. But after meeting Leo Chatwick, a decent man and founder of an elite gentlemen’s club, and Lily, Leo’s enchanting sister, Julian reconsiders his wild ways. And when Leo’s tragic murder demands that Julian hunt for justice, he vows to see the woman he secretly loves married to a man of her own class.
Lily, however, has a very different husband in mind. 

She’s loved Julian forever, adores the man beneath the rakish façade, and wants to savor the delicious attraction they share—as his wife. His insistence on marrying her off only reinforces her intent to prove that he is the only man for her. Obsessed with catching a killer, Julian sinks back to the gutters of his youth, forcing Lily to reach out with a sweet, reckless passion Julian can’t resist. Can her desire for a scoundrel save them both—or will dangerous secrets threaten more than their tender love?
From the Paperback edition.

 

I wasn’t sure what to think going into this novel. I wasn’t very impressed with Julian in either of the previous two books. He came across as angry, uncaring, selfish, vain and altogether a not-very-likable character. I vowed to have an open mind, but we all know how that is.

So it’s with great pleasure that I say I absolutely adored Julian.

When his best friend Leo was murdered, Julian Bellamy vowed two things; to find the murderers and bring them to justice and to see Leo’s sister, Lady Lily, settled into a good marriage. He loves Lily enough that he wants to see her settled with a man of her own class – something he can never be.

Lily is heartily sick and tired of Julian putting himself in danger by searching out her brother’s killers. No one wants justice for his murder than she, but not if it’s going to cost her Julian. He’s been her best friend as long as she can remember, and she doesn’t want him putting himself in danger. Lately he’s been like a man obsessed. He hardly eats, rarely sleeps and her concern for him grows more every day.

When he insists yet again that she marry, she agrees to return to society, but only if he accompanies her. He must give her three nights – escort her to three events – or she’ll quite happily retire to the country alone. For Julian, spending three nights with Lily is both heaven and hell. He longs for her, but knows he can never have her. It’s the worst sort of torture to be near her and know she can never be his.

Lily is deaf. It’s very hard for her to go out into society. She can read lips very well, but in a social setting it’s very hard for her to keep up. She also has no desire to marry. She’s content with her life. Until she realizes she can have more, that is. Then she decides to risk it all on Julian. I really loved how strong she was. She didn’t shy away from the truth of her feelings and she wasn’t afraid to put herself out there. She was happy to try new things, or go on adventures, or put her heart on the line. She was very refreshing.

Julian is the bastard son of a nobleman. He grew up dirt poor in one of the worst parts of town. He isn’t good enough for Lily. He knows that. I think this was one area where Julian was very honest with himself. He truly wanted to see her settled with someone of her own class. Someone who would treat her well and allow her to attend social functions and be accepted in society. He was very selfless in that area.

One of the things that frustrated me about the previous novel, Twice Tempted by a Rogue was that the class differences between the hero and heroine weren’t fully explored. That wasn’t the case here. Julian really thought about what it would mean for Lily to be with him.

I expected to be annoyed by Julian, or to have his insistence that Lily marry be too much. But instead I sympathized with him and adored him. He really only wanted what was best for her. In so many novels the hero thinks, “Damn the consequences!” and while that can be very exciting, it’s also not very realistic. Dare really showcased just how much Julian truly cared for Lily, in actions rather than words.

“Julian,” she said huskily, “you were right the other morning. You know me so well. I’m not made for illicit affaires, all that sneaking around to avoid discovery.” In the dark, her hands crept up to his shoulders, then his face. Her finger teased through his hair. “Why should we hide at all? Let all London see us together. I don’t care what anyone says or thinks. I love you, and I want the world to know.”

He wanted to weep. For joy, for frustration. She was so brave, his beautiful Lily, and the situation was so damned unfair. It wasn’t her fault that she made these heartrending declarations at a moment when their lives were probably in danger and he couldn’t possibly reciprocate. That fault was his, for choosing to live the way he had and making the decisions he’d made. He didn’t deserve her, didn’t deserve her love. He most certainly didn’t merit those warm brushes of her lips against his skin. But damned if he could bring himself to stop them.

“We’re in love, Julian. Isn’t it wonderful?”

“No,” he murmured as she kissed him again. “It’s not wonderful. It’s a disaster.”

Her lips grazed his jaw, then his throat. “I can feel you speaking, and I know you’re probably making some valiant protest. But you know I can’t hear those words. Your body is making an altogether different argument, and I’m listening to it.” Her fingers crept inside his waistcoat, splaying over the thin lawn of his shirt. “Take your heart, for example.”

Yes, take it. Take it and keep it, always.

The problem wasn’t with them being in love. It’s obvious from the beginning that Julian cares for her and it isn’t long before Lily realizes she loves him as well. The problem is that Julian isn’t good enough.

You see I’ve mentioned this several times. He’s not good enough for her. Though I understand, and appreciate, the class differences between them and why Julian wanted better for Lily, it was harped on a bit too much. Julian constantly pushes Lily away because he isn’t good enough. It became too much for me, especially near the end.

He also had a major secret he kept from her, almost until the last page. Why he kept it from her is beyond me. His insistence that he had to be “Good” for her and that she was “everything” to him frustrated me. The good news is, it also frustrated Lily. She didn’t let him get away with much, including keeping her in the dark.

Despite my frustrations with Julian and his need to protect Lily from herself, I have to say this was my favorite of the trilogy. I adored the overall storyline and the beautiful romance. Each character brought out the best in the other. I was truly wrapped up in them, my heart and mind fully engaged.

4.5 out of 5

The Series:

One Dance with a Duke
Twice Tempted by a Rogue
Three Nights with a Scoundrel

Would you like to win a copy of Three Nights with a Scoundrel? Leave a comment on this post telling me why you want to win before 11:59 p.m. Friday, August 6th, and you’ll be entered.

This book is available from Ballantine. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

four-half-stars

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Review and a Giveaway: Twice Tempted by a Rogue by Tessa Dare

Posted July 6, 2010 by Holly in Giveaways, Reviews | 26 Comments

Review and a Giveaway: Twice Tempted by a Rogue by Tessa DareReviewer: Holly
Twice Tempted by a Rogue by Tessa Dare
Series: Stud Club #2
Also in this series: One Dance with a Duke, Three Nights with a Scoundrel
Published by Random House Publishing Group
Publication Date: June 22nd 2010
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Historical, Regency
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

The daring members of the Stud Club are reckless gamblers and no strangers to risk—until love raises the stakes in Twice Tempted by a Rogue. Luck is a double-edged sword for brooding war hero Rhys St. Maur. His death wish went unanswered on the battlefield, while fate allowed the murder of his good friend in the elite gentlemen’s society known as the Stud Club. Out of options, Rhys returns to his ancestral home on the moors of Devonshire, expecting anything but a chance at redemption in the arms of a beautiful innkeeper who dares him to take on the demons of his past—and the sweet temptation of a woman’s love.
Meredith Maddox believes in hard work, not fate, and romance isn’t part of her plan. But when Rhys returns, battle-scarred, world-weary, and more dangerously attractive than ever, the lovely widow is torn between determination and desire. As a deep mystery and dangerous smugglers threaten much more than their passionate reckoning, Meredith discovers that she must trust everything to a wager her heart placed long ago.
From the Paperback edition.

This is the 2nd book in Dare’s Stud Club series. I was really looking forward to it because Rhys intrigued me in the first book. He was so bent on self-destruction I wanted to see how his character would develop and what his past would reveal.

On that score I wasn’t disappointed. Rhys really came alive for me. His past and his self-destructive bent were explained well, and we got a lot of insight into his character.

On the opposite side was Meredith. If Rhys was dark, brooding and complex, Meredith was light, open and uncomplicated. She was just a simple woman trying to make a living for herself, her father and the village she loved.

Rhys decides fate had decreed that he and Meredith marry. He thinks it’s because of him she’s had to work hard to make a living for herself all these years and that her father was injured and lost his job. He also feels responsible for the state of the village. His solution is to marry Meredith and rebuild his manor, which will save her from having to work so hard plus offer jobs to the village people.

But the way he presents it to Meredith pricks her pride. She wants to be wanted for herself, not because fate decreed it. And Rhys doesn’t help the situation at all, being the oblivious man that he his.

I understood where both of them were coming from; Rhys wanted to make things right and finally settle down with someone who would give him peace; Meredith wants to be wanted for herself, not because fate said so or Rhys had “nothing else to do”.

Unfortunately something was lost in translation. While I appreciated both their positions, I wasn’t as emotionally invested in either of them as I expected to be. I became annoyed with both of them on several occasions for not talking things out.

I was also very bothered by the thought of a Peer of the Realm marrying a tavern owner/widow who’d had several lovers. Not that I begrudge Meredith her fun (hey girl, get you some), but it wasn’t plausible at all that a Viscount would marry a tavern owner/stable master’s daughter and it not be seen as a problem. Maybe this wouldn’t have bothered me if it had been addressed, but it was totally glossed over.

Having said that, there were parts I adored. When Meredith and Rhys visit Bath and each are battling their own insecurities I was really touched. I also loved that Rhys was so set on Meredith and refused to back down. When he had the banns read at church without telling her he was doing it I laughed out loud. I was also amused at several of the scenes when he was ‘courting’ her.

I really liked the end, too. The way things all came to a head and Rhys really let go..well, it was beautifully done. Unfortunately that wasn’t enough to elevate my enjoyment of this book to the same level as the last one.

3.5 out of 5

The Series:

One Dance with a Duke
Twice Tempted by a Rogue
Three Nights with a Scoundrel

Interested in winning a copy? Leave a comment telling me what you think of the the idea of a Viscount marrying a tavern owner and I’ll throw your name in the hat.  Contest ends Tuesday, July 13.

This book is available from Ballantine. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

three-half-stars

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Review and a Giveaway: One Dance with a Duke by Tessa Dare

Posted June 1, 2010 by Holly in Reviews | 41 Comments

Review and a Giveaway: One Dance with a Duke by Tessa DareReviewer: Holly
One Dance with a Duke by Tessa Dare
Series: Stud Club #1
Also in this series: Twice Tempted by a Rogue, Three Nights with a Scoundrel
Published by Random House Publishing Group
Publication Date: May 25th 2010
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Historical, Regency
Pages: 400
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

In One Dance with a Duke—the first novel in Tessa Dare’s delightful new trilogy—secrets and scandals tempt the irresistible rogues of the Stud Club to gamble everything for love. 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?
From the Paperback edition.

Spencer Dumarque, the Duke of Morland, has garnered a reputation for himself. Every night at the stroke of midnight he shows up at a ball, dances one dance with one girl, escorts her to dinner, then leaves. Thus society is totally smitten with him. They’ve dubbed him The Duke of Midnight.  Lady Amelia d’Orsay has dubbed him something else, however..a cad.

Spencer is a member of the exclusive Stud Club. But he isn’t satisfied with owning one-tenth of the stud horse the club is named after. He won’t settle for less than full ownership. Unfortunately for Lady Amelia and her family, the coins can’t be sold or given away – they must be won in a game of chance. Her brother was lucky enough to gain one of these coins, and unlucky enough to lose it – along with a considerable sum of money – to Morland. Desperate to get him to release the debt, Amelia claims Spencer’s midnight dance..and sets off an entirely unexpected chain of events.

Shortly thereafter The Stud Club’s founder, Leo, is found murdered and Spencer and Amelia set off break the news to his twin sister. The other remaining members of the club, Rhys St. Maur and Julian Bellamy, decide someone must marry Leo’s sister as a way to protect her. Julian can’t because he doesn’t consider himself his equal. Rhys refuses for his how reasons. That leaves Spencer. Only Spencer isn’t interested in marrying anyone. Or is he. Because though he can’t imagine marrying Leo’s sister, the more he thinks about it, the more he realizes Amelia is everything he wants in a wife. Of course, convincing her might be more trouble that it’s worth, but once Spencer makes up his mind he isn’t easily deterred.

Amelia was very refreshing as a heroine. She was thisclose to being on the shelf, so she was somewhat more mature as a woman. I really liked that she was so practical and down to earth. She wasn’t a simpering miss, convinced love is the only answer to everything. She knew she wouldn’t get a better offer of marriage, and though Spencer wasn’t exactly what she’d always been dreaming of, she was practical enough to accept this was the best thing for her. She showed strength and depth of character.

Spencer was a coarse man. Or maybe plain-speaking is a better way to put it. He said what was on his mind and often alienated others – including Amelia – because of the way he put things. But he was strong and sensitive, even if he didn’t always show it. I really adored him. Both he and Amelia were flawed and that made their coming together all the more real.

While I loved most if it, I’m really struggling to come to terms with the actions of the heroine at the end of the book. Both protagonists made mistakes throughout, but I don’t understand why the heroine made the choice she did at the very end. Throughout the book I adored her, but there at the end I found myself questioning her feelings for the hero. She truly didn’t seem to care for him as much as he did her, by thought or deed.

Otherwise I really loved it. The story itself was wonderfully told and the characters were beautifully drawn. Both were flawed, yet lovable. Though the end marred my overall enjoyment somewhat, I still have to say this was a fabulous novel in what looks to be a promising trilogy. I’m anxious to start the next one.

4.25 out of 5

The Series:

One Dance with a Duke
Twice Tempted by a Rogue
Three Nights with a Scoundrel

I have an extra copy this book. If you’d like a chance to win, leave a comment on this post telling us why you want to read it, and we’ll enter your name in the drawing. Contest ends Sunday, June 6, 2010 at 11:59 p.m.

This book is available from Ballantine. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

four-stars

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