Once Upon a Winter’s Eve (Tessa Dare)

December 10, 2018 Book Reviews 2 ★★★½

Once Upon a Winter’s Eve (Tessa Dare)Once Upon a Winter's Eve by Tessa Dare
Series: Spindle Cove #1.5
Published by self-published on November 22, 2016
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 116
Source: purchased
Purchase: Amazon
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Also by this author: When a Scot Ties the Knot, The Duchess Deal, How the Dukes Stole Christmas, His Bride for the Taking

Some wallflowers bloom at night…

Violet is a quiet girl. She speaks six languages, but seldom raises her voice. 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. 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.

This book contains mature content and may not be suitable for younger readers.


I bought Once Upon a Winter’s Eve thinking the blurb sounded vaguely familiar, but not recognizing the cover. Partway through, I realized that yes, I had read it before…though I only remembered the details as I read them.

On a second reading, my opinion remains the same as the first time I read it: I enjoyed the novella, but struggled with parts of it. I really like Violet. Although the whole novella takes place over the space of a night (with memories of her earlier life), we get to see her grow into the strong, resourceful, and confident woman she has, without even realizing it, been becoming over the last year. In other words, there’s character development despite the story’s brevity. There’s relationship development, too: a surprising amount, given that the characters only spend about 12 hours together in “present time” over the course of the novella.

On the other hand, I had very mixed feelings about the hero. He too has done a fair bit of growing and maturing before we first see him, all of it off-page. But before that, he did something almost unpardonable by Regency standards (and pretty close even by my more modern standards).  I had a very hard time forgiving him for it. Fortunately for Violet’s sake (and the novella’s), he grovels really well. And when he finally speaks from the heart, it would melt a harder heart than mine. Tessa Dare writes wonderful dialogue, conveying humor and heartfelt emotion with equal ease, and her skills are on full display in every interchange between Violet and the hero.

For all those reasons, I’m bumping my original 3-star rating to 3.5 stars: somewhere between “Liked it” and “Really liked it.”


Note: Originally published in 2011 by Samhain Publishing, and re-released by the author in 2016.


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • COYER Winter 2018-2019

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