Funmbi and Katie review Lord Dashwood Missed Out by Tessa Dare, a new novella in the Spindle Cove series. This quick, fun read is perfect for the holidays. Grab it now!
[Some Spoilers; For Mature Audiences]
Funmbi’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
As far as I’m concerned, Tessa Dare is one of the most influential voices in the Historical Romance genre. With her excellent attention to detail, relatable characters, and HILARIOUS banter, Ms. Dare’s novels always have me cackling with laughter and then swooooooooning. Her Spindle Cove series 100% embodies all of these qualities, along with a girl power theme that I find particularly compelling. Spindle Cove is a place where young women can be their true selves. Away from the critical eyes of their families and London society, they can embrace all their quirks. And interestingly enough, love is usually right around the corner 😉
When Tessa Dare announced that she would be bringing readers back to Spindle Cove in a new Holiday-themed novella, I was so excited! And once I got my hands on Lord Dashwood Missed Out, I devoured it in a single evening.
We meet Miss Elinora Browning as she’s on her way to Spindle Cove for a speaking engagement at the local subscription library. In a rather unexpected turn of events, Nora is now a celebrated authoress—primarily a result of her essay, Lord Ashwood Missed Out: A Gentleman’s Rejection, Rejected.
Nora falls in love with George Travers, Lord Dashwood very early on in her life. As her neighbor and her older brother’s best friend, Nora and Dash spend a lot of time together, so much so, that she and her family start to have expectations for a future. Unfortunately, those hopes are dashed (pun intended!) when Lord Dashwood leaves England for a cartography expedition.
One evening when Nora is reeling from the pain and disappointment, she writes Lord Ashwood Missed Out, “a literary vindication for every young woman who’d pinned her hopes to a man and then watched both man and hopes walk away.” Who knew that other young ladies would find a kindred spirit in Nora and solace in Nora’s words? Lord Ashwood Missed Out is a bestseller and Nora travels the country speaking to women about their individual worth, outside of male attention and marriage.
However, on her way to Spindle Cove for such an appearance, Nora comes face-to-face with Dashwood/Ashwood himself! He’s back in England and cannot believe his reputation is in tatters. As a result of Nora’s essay, Dash is known through the country as a “vain, self-important jackass who can’t observe what’s beneath his own nose.” Now that they’re together once again, and consequently trapped together in a snowstorm, Dash is determined to find out exactly what he missed out on…and Nora is prepared to show him.
As I mentioned before, even though this is historical fiction, I adore the independent, modern girl motif and Nora definitely represents this! I can’t imagine the courage it would take to articulate her feelings and then publish them for the world to see and speculate on. And even with her personal success and vibrant career, Nora finds the most joy in encouraging other women to find their own happiness. Truth be told, I’d love to have Nora as my life coach!
And Darling Dash—even though I begin the story annoyed with him, I can quickly see why Nora falls so deeply in love…and why she’s still in love with him. He’s abrasive, at times hurtful, especially when he admits to knowing Nora’s feelings all along. Yet he still leaves to pursue his cartography career. But this time, Nora finds the courage to tell Dash exactly what she thinks:
“You were a coward. You knew I had hopes. Hopes that were shared by my family. Rather than let me down gently, privately–as basic respect might have demanded–you decided to make me a spectacle instead. To humiliate me publicly. To make me a fool.”
Yes, Dash missed out, but in truth, his loss was her gain, and he knows it.
“…look at you. You’re famous. Wanted for speaking engagements all over Britain. It’s remarkable. You’re remarkable. You don’t need me for entree into salons or exhibitions. You don’t need my admiration, either.”
Both Nora and Dash are older, wiser, and now that they have professional success, they’re on the same page. And in the privacy of a secluded hut where they find shelter from the storm, Nora and Dash give in to their romance:
She was a woman. An accomplished, brave, beautiful woman. An acclaimed authoress. A creative lover. Best of all, his friend. And she was laid out before him like a landscape of pristine, snowy hills on a winter’s night, lit by a dying ember of the sun. Still holding her hands overhead, he dipped to kiss her brow. Then her nose. Then her lips. And then down, down. Breasts, belly, navel… She gasped and bucked… He released her arms and settle between her thighs, a man with a purpose. He was not going to get carried away with his own needs this time. This time, she came first.
In bed, and in his life *SWOONS*
No spoilers, but there’s a bit of a twist at the end that leads Nora to question Dash’s intentions. However, there’s a really sweet HEA, which all of our favorite Spindle Cove couples get to witness too!
I wholeheartedly recommend Lord Dashwood Missed Out to historical romance fans and those who enjoy second-chance romance stories. This is a perfect holiday treat!
Katie’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Spindle Cove is such a lovely place to visit, especially if you’re a lady looking for an escape from Town. Over the years, it’s gained a reputation as being the place for ladies who have either decided against being a part of the spectacle of the marriage mart in London or they’re on the shelf and looking for a place of acceptance.
Miss Elinora Browning is no different than the ladies of Spindle Cove. In fact, she’s going there to give a lecture on her pamphlet (love letter), Lord Ashwood Missed Out. Nora grew up with great aspirations of love and marriage with the boy (Lord) next door. She waited oh so patiently for his interest to be peeked and for him to realize his undying love for her. Sadly, that never happened, and one night, after too much sherry, she wrote a letter to her beloved then went ahead and published it for all women to read.
A woman’s worth isn’t in the man that decides she’s worthy of marriage. A woman’s worth is solely hers, and she can do whatever she pleases.
George Travers, Lord Dashwood in title, left England several years before and saw his dreams of traveling the world and becoming a top cartographer realized. The only thing that he’s not pleased about is the fact that there’s a pamphlet flying off the shelves about him. Well, about Lord Ashwood, but he knows and so does everyone else, that Lord Ashwood is really Lord Dashwood. Dash has a bone to pick with his childhood friend, Nora, and nothing will stand in his way before he has a word with her.
One night changed both of their lives with her writing that letter, and now another night is going to change both of their lives entirely again.
Oh, guys. This one was just—let me swoon a minute—so cute.
I really adore Nora from the very start. Out of her humiliation, she’s grown into such a strong woman. She’s successful and doing all the things she loves, and the surprising thing is that she didn’t need a husband to find that happiness. Dash’s leaving spurred her to become someone she might not have if he’d have stayed.
Then there’s Dash. He’s sweet and charming, but he hides it under a very hostile exterior at first. He wants answers from Nora, specifically why she would blast him like that in a very public way, but he knows that he embarrassed her just as publicly when he left.
The truth of this story is so simple. They loved each other the whole time, but they needed to become their own person before they could be a couple.
“Would we have been content? I suppose so. Perhaps even happy. But we would never have pushed our boundaries, become our best and bravest selves. I would not be a cartographer. You would not be a writer.”
In an abandoned hut, during a snowstorm, Nora and Dash are about to lay it all out on the table. It doesn’t take long at all for things to get more than a little warm either.
What a picture she made. Her fiery hair, her smooth skin. Her long, elegant fingers working between her legs, and her full breasts rolling to the rhythm he set.
Damn. He’d never seen anything so arousing in his life.
She wrapped her legs around his hips and held onto his neck, and Dash lost all control. He thrust hard and fast, and faster still until he reached that blissful, dizzying plateau of inevitability.
“Yes,” she urged, locking her legs right around him.
And yes and yes and yes again.
On top of their romance, we also get to see the men of the previous Spindle Cove books as they try to find Miss Browning in the storm. They manage to create a name for their group, fight their way out of a smuggling ring, and find Nora before making it back to their wives in one piece.
That side plot was a very fun look into their lives now, as well as getting us reacquainted with old characters, specifically Charlotte and her mother. Readers of the Spindle Cove series already know what a busybody Mrs. Highwood is, and the next full-length novel in the series will focus on Charlotte. Here’s hoping she finds a good one…for her mother’s sake.
This novella and the series are must-reads for any historical romance reader.
Make sure to add Lord Dashwood Missed Out to your Goodreads TBR list and download your copy today!
Many thanks to the author and publisher for providing an advanced review copy.