By Tessa Dare
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Publication Date: April 28, 2013
Series or Standalone: Spindle Cove 3.5
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
I’ve read the Spindle Cove series multiple times but always skipped over the novellas. There isn’t anything wrong with novellas, but I’m not the biggest fan of them. As part of the But Do They Bang? Readalong, we picked a few of Tessa Dare’s novellas to read and I’m so glad we did as it gave me an excuse to read the stories I always skipped over.
Beauty and the Blacksmith gives us Diana Highwood and Aaron Dawes happily ever after. Beautiful Diana Highwood is destined to marry a nobleman; it’s all her mother wants for her. Meanwhile, Diana couldn’t care less about the noblemen who come through Spindle Cove. She’s got her eyes set on Aaron Dawes, the village blacksmith. She keeps finding excuses to come back to his shop, and Aaron cannot keep his eyes off her. However, he knows she’s destined for greater things and doesn’t want to jeopardize her future.
Both Diana and Aaron are characters we’ve seen in the first three books in the Spindle Cove series, which made this novella work for me. One of my issues with romance-focused novellas is it can be hard to get invested in a relationship in such a short amount of time. Having this focus on two characters who we got to know in previous books made the romance work in a short amount of time. If you’ve read the previous Spindle Cove novels, you have seen the connection between these two characters sprinkled throughout. That helped me feel invested in the romance despite this book only being a hundred or so pages.
Both Aaron and Diana were so far gone for each other. I loved all the excuses she would come up with to visit Aaron in the forge. Her love for him truly empowered her to stand up for herself and feel what she wants to feel. Diana had suffered from terrible asthma her whole childhood – that’s how the Highwoods ended up in Spindle Cove in the first place. Anything could have set her asthma attacks off, so she learns how to conceal her emotions so as to not get overwrought. Now that it seems like she’s grown out of her attacks, she’s willing to take the risk and run headfirst towards what she wants. I loved when she stood up to her mother to claim her own future. Good for her! Meanwhile, Aaron is such a cinnamon roll to me. He wants Diana but knows how it could affect her future. He puts her needs before his own until he sees just how much she wants him. And even when he’s willing to take the next step in his relationship with Diana, he asks Diana’s youngest sister, Charlotte, for her permission! He knows Diana’s relationship will have broad implications for Charlotte’s future and couldn’t move forward with a relationship unless Charlotte was okay with it. So considerate!
For such a short novella, also Dare manages to bring the steam. You might be asking: Do they bang in this book? The answer is a resounding YES. Dare delivers on the banging. Hot anvil sex, anyone?? I honestly would have been so disappointed if we had a blacksmith romance and didn’t get some anvil action.
I also found the plot of this so fun! Dare truly packs a lot of action into a short tale. We get everything from Diana shooting a gun out of someone’s hand to Aaron getting stabbed to a mysterious thief stealing valuables from Spindle Cove and Diana being falsely accused. The reveal of who is actually behind the robberies is a pure treat! The twist is quintessential Tessa Dare in every way.
If you’re a fan of the Spindle Cove series, I highly recommend checking out this novella. We get references to the actions of it, particularly in Do You Want to Start a Scandal, which I’ve now picked up on as I’m rereading it! You can read the Spindle Cove series without the novellas – it won’t diminish your experience at all – but this is a fun, short read between two familiar faces so I’d definitely pick it up. I’m honestly kicking myself for not reading it sooner!