Ew girl stuff!

So I think I’m going to change focus here a little bit. I make fun of romance novels because sexy times are so ripe for vast amounts of bullshit. I mean, do you have any idea how many times I’ve read the phrase “her centre of desire”? WAY TOO MANY. It’s a fuckin’ clitoris, people.

But at the same time, A) lots of books are bad as fuck and B) I don’t want to make it seem like it’s the “girl things are bad” styles either. Honestly, I’d never read any romance in my life at all, other than the sex scenes in various paperbacks (the weirder the better!). After reading that Tessa Dare and enjoying it, I realized there was no good reason not to read them — I have a habit of reading lots and lots of dubiously literary works; romance novels are not going to be a shameful secret next to the dumb shit I often read.

So, Tessa Dare won the honour of being the first romance author I purchased. Granted, this was out of desperation due to a confluence of Kobo disaster, but even so that’s high praise indeed. In the 2.5 years I’ve owned an e-reader, I’ve purchased under 20 books. And half of those are trilogies and uh…quintilogies? Sextopolies? If GRRM ever finishes?

Anyhoo, I’ve now read a bunch of her books/novellas. I noticed a few complaints on GoodReads that her plots are historically inaccurate. Well, duh. These are romance novels. They are usually not written with the aim of being livre verite. Otherwise I am sorry to inform you but they would generally be far less entertaining.

As for actual reviews: I’m backed up on books here, including a couple of non-romance deelios. I had better get moving on those before the list gets even longer (I was going to say “before I forget them” but at the best of times I just attempt to retain a general sense of what I was irritated by. That’s as good as it gets in my head.).

Your faithful servant in snark,
Maggie

“Beauty and the Blacksmith”, Tessa Dare

Dudes, whoa! Beauty and the Blacksmith by Tessa Dare was really good. I genuinely enjoyed it, and totally will read more of her books.

You know all of those things I complain about in all of these reviews? NONE OF THOSE COMPLAINTS ARE IN THIS NOVELLA.

Diana Highwood is the beauty of the title, an upper-class young lady who grew up with asthma and — this being a historical romance — unable to do much of anything in case it sets off an attack.

Aaron Dawes is the sexy blacksmith of the village. I may or may not be picturing Gendry with a better haircut in this role.

The novella opens with Diana having him fix her necklace for her, just so she can ogle him. She’s broken tons of things, just so she can go see him. Aaron’s like, yeah okay — this is starting to seem a LITTLE BIT INTENTIONAL, lady — so U wanna kiss nao?

Diana snaps like a little twig and freaks out, which she regrets and so she decides later to go to the tavern where she knows he is. She has decided that it is high time to stop being Sheltered Sick Pretty Girl, since it seems that she’s grown out of the asthma. She drinks a bunch of whiskey, and proceeds to try and stick her face on his face.

Aaron surely does want to stick it to her, but not when she’s drunk off her ass. 1 INTERNET COOKIE TO AARON FOR BASIC HUMAN DECENCY!

The next day she runs into him on a carriage, and her mom forces her to go with him so he can take her home, thereby preventing freckles. Can’t have freckles if one hopes to entice Gendry. I MEAN, GENTRY. Gentry.

She apologizes for the other night, and he teaches her how to drive. She admits to him that she’s had a crush on him since she helped him with a medical emergency a couple of years ago…and also — like, I know this is really pathetic and ridiculous buuuuuuuuuut also I bought a bunch of the jewelry you’ve made….and I keep one of them in my pocket all the time.

Which comes off as endearing and not creepy stalky. TURNS OUT that the one she keeps in her pocket is the one that he made WITH HER IN MIND!  Sploosh. So they makes outs a bit, and he sez to Diana he sez: “You’re a grown woman, and a clever one. I believe you understand the situation. And I trust that you know your own mind.” 1 POINT TO AARON.

You catch that? They’re both like “Yeah, the difference in station is awkward, but I like you and you like me, so let’s see what happens.” There’s no WOE OH WOE WHATEVER SHALL WE DO I WANT YOU BUT I MUSTN’T

This is especially appealing to me, since this is my method of dating. I like you, you like me; let’s get it on and see what happens!

The next day she sneaks out of her house and goes to see him. He’s busy working on something, and references the fact that any possibly wife of his would need to be able to help him, as a lower-class wife can’t just be decorative. She decides to make him lunch, spunky thing that she is. Of course, she has no clue what she was doing, and despite trying really damn hard, her eel escapes and she fails. Yes, eel. It’s kind of adorable.

“I have nothing against you,” she told the eel. “I’m sure you’re a perfectly fine creature.”

See? Adorable. She breaks down in tears because of the disaster she created, and also she got burnt by a cinder, which is understandably kind of upsetting when you’ve been taught your only value is in your face.

[S]he offered her face for his view. “Is it very hideous?” What a question. As if she could – ever – be anything less than beautiful in his eyes.

Dawwww you guys. So adorbz.

The next day, she makes up an excuse to go with him to the nearby bigger town (along with her sister). On the way back, they end up accosted by some highway robbers. Diana shoots the knife right out of Bad Guy’s hand, bam. Aww yiss.

He decides to propose to her, and makes a fancy ring and suits up all nice to go talk to her brother-in-law just to be classy about things. But, medical emergency time! So he can’t go out to fancy night out, and can’t even get a message to her. But she heard about the accident and knows that, stand-up dude that he is, he’ll be off doing that so she waits for him at home.

He comes in shirtless and now it is time for the sex. The sex. It is time.

1 more point to Aaron! And a million points to Tessa Dare. This is about Diana here, and it’s great. First of all: he asks if she knows how to come, and she says yes. SHE SAYS YES YOU GUYS! A romance novel where a woman has masturabated!!! Woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo yeah!

She even shows him what she likes, and he has her come first. He makes sure that she’s okay with everything, and while it hurts for her and she doesn’t orgasm again (unlike just about every frigging romance!), she’s like okay — this hurts, but it’s starting to feel better, cool. The next day he introduces her to oral, woot. While sitting on his anvil! Also adorably, he’s fantasized about that in the past, and realizes that O WAIT she has too and they get a bit dirty both in the metaphorical and physical sense. Awww. Adorable.

Anyhoo, things have been disappearing in the boarding house where she lives, and now she’s been accused of stealing since it appeared to everyone else that she had been there alone when something else had gone missing. So she’s like, yo, I  gotta tell everyone where I was! But Aaron’s like BUT THEN THEY’LL THINK YOU’RE A SLUTTY HO-BAG AND/OR THAT I GO AROUND SEDUCING WOMEN THEN HAVE TO MARRY THEM! And Diana’s like ummmmmm what? douchebag, I’m outta here. *drops mike*

This is another spot where any other romance would spend 100 pages on MISUNDERSTANDINGS! and HIJINKS! and OH NOES BUT DOES HE REALLY LOVE ME? OH NOES DOES SHE REALLY LOVE ME? etc etc etc etc etc forever and ever.

But not here my friends, oh no! Aaron realizes that was really stupid, so he just goes to find her and apologize. He arrives just when she’s about to have to reveal that she was fuckin around last night. He says she was with him, and amusingly her mom’s like oh yeah, there was that accident. She was helping Aaron with that.

And I love this, cause Diana doesn’t take that and run with it, nope. NO MOM THE BLACKSMITH WAS STICKING IT TO ME! And Aaron sez, would you marry me, Diana? Mom freaks out, and tells him that he’s obviously just lying to Diana will have to marry him. Whereupon Diana throws open her cloak, revealing a large dirty handprint on her boob. HAHAHA SERIOUSLY THIS BOOK I LOVE IT.

Also it was just a rat that had a habit of yoinking stuff.

Her mom tells her she just wants her to be safe and happy, and Diana and Aaron get married. Who gives away the bride? DIANA DOES, MOTHERLOVERS. SHE GIVES HERSELF AWAY.

And there ends the totally great “Beauty and the Blacksmith.”

Grade: A for fuck yeah!