Beauty and the Blacksmith
By Tessa Dare
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Release Date: April 30, 2013
Diana Highwood is the family beauty. It was Diana’s asthma that brought Mrs. Highwood and her daughters to Spindle Cove. After two years in the seaside village, Diana’s asthma has disappeared, but her mother’s conviction that Diana’s beauty will win the heart of a titled gentleman shows no signs of diminishing. Mrs. Highwood would be horrified if she knew that Diana’s thoughts are filled not with elusive dukes and earls but with the village blacksmith, one Aaron Dawes—his arms, his lips, his voice. In fact, Diana manufactures reasons for visiting the smith whose virility generates more heat than the forge in the opinion of the proper Miss Highwood.
Aaron Dawes may work with his hands, but he’s no simpleton. He realizes that the beautiful Diana is making excuses to see him. Aaron is not indifferent to the beautiful Diana, and it’s more than her beauty that attracts him. He enjoys playing big brother to most of the young women who have invaded Spindle Cove, but there’s nothing the least fraternal about his feelings for Diana. However, fully conscious of the social chasm between a lady and a blacksmith, he resists temptation even when a little whiskey emboldens Diana to ask for a kiss. He’s less noble when a second opportunity presents itself, ironically arranged by Diana’s mother.
I’ve loved Spindle Cove since I first heard the premise, and each novel and novella has given me more reasons for Spindle Cove to be one of my favorite historical series. “The Beauty and the Blacksmith” is a delight. It is joyous to watch Diana throw off the constraints that have limited her and become her own person, and Aaron is a wonderful hero whose physical appeal is only exceeded by his tenderness and wisdom. One of my favorite moments occurs when he teaches Diana to drive, a scene that reveals his practicality and his concern and respect for women. When Diana says that shooting lessons make the women of Spindle Cove feel strong and in control, Aaron responds, “I’m not saying it’s bad. But there’s feeling powerful, and then there’s actually taking the reins. There are a great many situations a woman might do well to drive away from. Very few where it’s advisable to shoot her way out.”
Dare’s use of humor is one of her most consistent strengths, one that is sometimes underappreciated. This novella is rich with humor. I have serious questions about the sense of humor of any reader who can get through the cooking scene without laughing out loud. The sensuality level of the novella is high, but the love scenes are never merely titillation. If you are a fan of the Spindle Cove books, you probably have this preordered. Prepare to enjoy every page. If you haven’t tried Tessa Dare’s books, this taste is sure to whet your appetite for more. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Dare plans to write a story for Charlotte, the third Highwood sister, one of the lesser stars of “The Beauty and the Blacksmith.”
Aaron is definitely not the typical historical romance hero, and I love him all the more because he’s not. Do you like working class heroes the historical romances you read, or do you prefer your heroes with blue blood and a title?