Review: Dweller on the Threshold by Rinda Elliot


Title:  Dweller on the Threshold

Author:  Rinda Elliott


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:


On a hunt to save her sister, the last thing Beri O’Dell needs is love. Aren’t demons bad enough?

Beri O’Dell is investigating paranormal creatures because she wants to know what she is. Taller and stronger than most men, she astral projects and can peel through dimensional layers to see the creatures and spirits beyond.he once helped her foster sister, Detective Elsa Remington, track down killers in Jacksonville, Florida, but stopped when a nasty fire elemental turned her strength against her. Now, she finds herself pulled back when something steals Elsa’s soul and puts her into a coma.

With little time to spare, Beri searches for the reason behind her sister’s coma. She has help in her spirit guides Fred and Phro, but others come along for the ride, including a pyro-nervous witch, and an androgynous necromancer.

The last thing Beri needs is to fall in love with a mysterious stranger. But the handsome Minoan warrior Nikolos knows what creature she’s after because he’s battled it before.
It’s bad.

Really, really bad.

He calls it the Dweller on the Threshold.

Contains a worried heroine with no time, a witch with fire problems, a pissed-off necromancer, a trapped goddess, and a damned sexy, but scary, warrior. Throw in bloody battles, mass-murderer history lessons and a bit of sexy time and you get the start of Beri’s new life.


After my success with Erica Hayes Redemption, I decided to dive into another Paranormal/UF book.  Dweller on the Threshold looked like an interesting blend of creepy and magical, and it was.  The romance is kept on the back burner, and instead the focus is on finding and taking down the dreaded Dweller on the Threshold.  There are people dropping like flies as their souls are sucked out of their bodies, demon battles galore, and an ancient Minoan warrior who possesses both brawn and good-looks.  I liked the Greek mythology that was incorporated into the story, as well as the concept of guardians, ghostly protectors who watch over their charges, usually invisible and undetected for normal people.  Beri, the protagonist, isn’t normal.

I found Beri an interesting protagonist.  She knows that she’s different, but she doesn’t know why.  She can see her guardians – the serious Fred, who was killed in a fire when he was on the cusp of manhood, and Phro, who claims to be the Goddess of Love.  Yes, that Goddess of Love.  Beri wonders what motivates both of them to stay with her, especially the beautiful Phro.  Surely she has better things to do than follow a towering, streaky haired freak of a woman around year after year.  I am still wondering what Fred’s deal is, because it’s obvious there is more to him being with Beri than meets the eye.  Maybe we’ll find out what’s going on with him in the next book of the series?  Where does he keep disappearing to, and can he be completely trusted?  With so many dangers popping up to threaten her life, I believe these are questions that Beri needs to have answered  stat.

Beri has been searching for other answers for her entire life.  Who is she?  What is she?  After being bounced around from foster home to foster home, she’s developed a thick skin, and she prefers to keep others at a safe distance.  The only person she is close to is Elsa, whose parents took Beri in before weird things started happening and they became too terrified of her to keep her round.  Now, the two women consider themselves sisters, and when Elsa interrupts a paranormal hunting trip in the swamp, Beri is obligated to help her sister, a police detective, with the case she’s working on.  Even though things ended disastrously the last time she tried to help, and Beri ended up bathed in blood and detached body parts.  Ugh.

Back in the city, Beri learns that Elsa is in a coma, and things don’t look good.  When she can’t see Elsa’s soul, Beri knows that she has to figure out what she was working on.  As danger mounts, and more mysteries are revealed, Beri has no choice but to trust Blyth, a flaky witch, and Nikolas, an old, old being who is surrounded with the darkness of hundreds and hundreds of trapped souls.  And, oh, yeah, even though he’s older than dirt, he’s a handsome, hulking warrior, and Beri can’t help but be attracted to him and all of his secrets.

I loved Nicolas’ tragic past, and all of the references to Greek mythology.  While some of the world-building was confusing or non-existent, there was enough demon slaying and demon attacking action to distract me from most of my hang-ups about the world Beri resides in.  Just throw some magic, some ugly monsters, and a kick-ass heroine into the mix, and I’m a pretty happy camper.  The action and the quest to find  and defeat the Dweller drive this story, more so than the romance or any other element, and I didn’t mind one bit.  What did kind of bug me?  The non-ending! 

Grade: B

Review copy provided by author

Interview with Rinda Elliott, Author of Dweller On The Threshold

Our special guest today is Rinda Elliott!  Her latest release Dweller On The Threshold hits store shelves next week.  Please give Rinda a warm welcome!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Please tell us a little about yourself.

[Rinda Elliott] Let’s see, I’ve been married forever to my best friend. I’m crazy about my kids and I love to read above all things. I prefer genre fiction—mostly urban fantasy and romance. My other loves are movies and shows like The Walking Dead, Lost Girl, Veronica Mars, Buffy and Firefly. (Yeah, the last three are long gone, but I still miss them!) I love to cook and have a sincere respect for red wine. Hobbies? Making wine (I share the process in photographs on my website.) and sometimes playing video games. Last year, I took up gardening because of the cooking and my love for fresh vegetables.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Dweller on the Threshold?

[Rinda Elliott] Here’s the official blurb:

Beri O’Dell is investigating paranormal creatures because she wants to know what she is.  Taller and stronger than most men, she astral projects and can peel through dimensional layers to see the creatures and spirits beyond.

She once helped her foster sister, Detective Elsa Remington, track down killers in Jacksonville, Florida, but stopped when a nasty fire elemental turned her strength against her. Now, she finds herself pulled back when something steals Elsa’s soul and puts her into a coma.

With little time to spare, Beri searches for the reason behind her sister’s coma. She has help in her spirit guides Fred and Phro, but others come along for the ride, including a pyro-nervous witch, and an androgynous necromancer.

The last thing Beri needs is to fall in love with a mysterious stranger. But the handsome Minoan warrior Nikolos knows what creature she’s after because he’s battled it before.

It’s bad.

Really, really bad.

He calls it the Dweller on the Threshold.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Rinda Elliott] I started Dweller on the Threshold years ago. I had written quite a few romances and though editors seemed to like them, most told me my heroines were too strong. Beri, the heroine of Dweller on the Threshold, sort of stormed into my life. I started writing about her for fun and everything really gelled when I came upon this theosophical concept of the dweller on the threshold. People who follow theosophy believe that a person is reincarnated over and over until they learn all life lessons. When they reach their last incarnation, they can only discover true enlightenment when they vanquish the karmic gathering of all their past lives. I thought what if that karmic gathering came from many evil lifetimes and it found a way to physically manifest? Then, I thought about Beri and how she’d deal with such a thing. Dweller on the Threshold was born. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Beri?

[Rinda Elliott] Unique, impatient, and caring.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Nikolos is never without.

[Rinda Elliott] I can name two. His ankh and his dagger.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Beri’s bedroom?

[Rinda Elliott] Perfume, dresses, and heels. She’s not very girly. <g>

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Beri’s greatest regret?

[Rinda Elliott] She regrets losing control to a fire elemental and killing someone in a horrific manner. He was a bad guy, but knowing she’s capable of that kind of violence terrifies her.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Rinda Elliott] Other writers I admire, music and art. I make collages of images for every book. I also put together soundtracks.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Rinda Elliott] This one is tough. I was going to say laptop, but I can sometimes fill up notebooks. I was going to say music, but occasionally, quiet is best. I don’t have rituals because I believe it’s better to write whenever and wherever you can. Think this comes from being a mother. I do like to have a cup of coffee or tea somewhere close. Okay… and lip balm. I admit that’s weird, but dry lips bug me, so I keep a tube next to anyplace I might write. I also like lit candles. Doesn’t matter what time of day or year, I keep a bunch on my desk and love to have them flickering behind my laptop.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Rinda Elliott] I have to be honest. It was my critique partner’s latest project. I can’t say anything about it other than I loved it. She has several other series out people can read until this gem is available. Her name is Rachel Vincent and the series are Soul Screamers, Shifters and Unbound.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Rinda Elliott] Just one? As a kid, I read everything. My earliest favorite book memory is Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. I went on to devour all the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. Then Judy Blume came into my life. Everything changed one summer when I was living in the Ozarks, bored out of my mind, and a nice woman gave me a box of Harlequin Presents novels. The first one I picked up was called Living with Adam by Anne Mather. My young heart went crazy and a love for romance novels was born. My husband tracked that book down for me again many years later and I reread it. Had to laugh. My taste in heroes and heroines has changed dramatically, but that book was the start. The start of my love for paranormal books? Wizard of Seattle by Kay Hooper.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Rinda Elliott] Hang out with my family, watch movies, make wine or read. Sometimes, I’m reading while doing all those other things.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Rinda Elliott] I have too many websites right now, but hope to streamline them soon. I have a Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc, but the best place is I’m also a member of a group of fantastic writers called The Deadline Dames. You can check out all our books at .

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

You can pre-order Dweller On The Threshold from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the link below:


About the author:

Rinda Elliott loves unusual stories and she credits growing up in a family of curious life-lovers who moved all over the country. Books and movies full of fantasy, science fiction and horror kept them amused, especially in some of the stranger places. For years, Rinda tried to separate her darker side with her humorous and romantic one. She published short fiction, but things really started happening when she gave in and mixed it up. When not lost in fiction, she loves making wine, collecting music, gaming and spending time with her husband and two children.

Review: Confidence Tricks by Tamara Morgan




Title: Confidence Tricks

Author: Tamara Morgan

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Asprey Charles has always assumed he would one day take his place in the family art appraisal and insurance firm. “His place” meaning he plans to continue to enjoy his playboy lifestyle, lavish money on his Cessna, and shirk every responsibility that dares come his way.

But when a life of crime is thrust upon him, he is just as happy to slip on a mask and cape and play a highwayman rogue. After all, life is one big game—and he excels at playing.

Poppy Donovan vows that her recent release from jail will be her last—no more crime, no more cons. But when she learns that her grandmother lost her savings to a low-life financial advisor, she’s forced to do just one more job.

It’s all going smoothly until the necklace she intends to pawn to fund her con is stolen by a handsome, mocking, white-collar thief. A thief who, it turns out, could take a whole lot more than money. If she’s not careful, this blue blood with no business on her side of the tracks could run off with the last thing she can afford to lose. Her heart.

Warning: This book contains masked crusaders, a remorseless con woman, and plans to boost a ten-million-dollar painting. Expect high speeds and fast hands.


Confidence Tricks is a fun, fast-paced romance with a likable ex-con protagonist.  I loved Poppy.  She is different from most romance heroines, and she’s brutally honest about her prospects for the future.  After she falls for rich guy Asprey, she understands the reality of their relationship, as in, there can’t be one.  How can a guy who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, who has never wanted for anything, understand that a future with Poppy, a poor girl who has been living on the edge for years, is out of the question?  It was the difference in their social status that really attracted me to this story, and by the end of the book, I was convinced that Poppy and Asprey would find their HEA.  It wouldn’t be easy, but, dang, they deserved to be happy!  Together!

The story starts out with Asprey completely at Poppy’s mercy.  She’s got a stiletto heel jabbed against his throat, and she’s not afraid to use it!  She’s already dislocated his shoulder, and she’s not going to hesitate to inflict more bodily harm.  How dare he interfere with her mark?  She has been hanging around with slimeball Todd for weeks, all in an effort to steal back the money he stole from her grandmother.  How dare these amateur thieves try to steal her thunder.

I enjoyed the power imbalance between Poppy and Asprey.  She is hard as nails and can open a can of whoop ass on him without even thinking about it.  Asprey, on the other hand, is like a genteel Robin Hood, stealing back jewelry and art from their owners so they can collect on insurance policies.  Why? Because everything that he and his older brother are stealing are fakes.  Oops!  The cons are very convoluted in Confidence Tricks, and there were several times when I had to throw away everything I thought I knew was going on, because Tamara Morgan had me totally bamboozled.  Clueless.  It was fun watching as the web of deception unraveled, leaving the characters second guessing themselves. 

I was entertained by Asprey and Poppy’s unusual courtship.  They try to steal an espresso machine in a bet for answers to the burning questions they have for each other. They don’t quite trust each other, but as they are thrown from one dangerous adventure to the next, they find that they don’t have anyone else to rely on but each other.  When Poppy’s less than shining history is finally revealed, Asprey doesn’t seem phased at all.  He can put her past mistakes in the past where they belong, though he constantly questions why she would act as she did by turning herself in.  The romance is hot and flares quickly out of control, and I thought that the two made a great couple.  Even better, Asprey’s older brother is disapproving and trying to find ways to drive the two apart.  Stupid brothers!

I did think that the action lagged during the poker games.  Poppy and Asprey just can’t compete with Paul Newman and Robert Redford; I don’t think any characters could.  How do you pull off a better sting than those guys?  I don’t think you can, so these scenes didn’t work for me.  The rest of the cons did, though, and I was caught up in the rest of the intrigue and suspense.  And again, I loved the stark contrast between Poppy and Asprey’s backgrounds.

If you enjoy suspense, danger, and cons in your romance, I think you will like Confidence Tricks.  Not sure? Check back later today for the opportunity to win a copy for yourself.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by author

Interview with Yolanda Sfetsos, Author of A Patch of Darkness

Yolanda Sfetsos is the author of A Patch of Darkness, the first book in her Sierra Fox series.  Yolanda visited the virtual offices to chat up her new book, so check out what she has to say.

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Yolanda Sfetsos] Wife. Mother. Writer. Bibliophile. Dreamer. Animal lover. Intrigued by the supernatural. Horror freak. Zombie enthusiast. Movie & music fan.

(This is exactly 140 characters. I checked on Twitter, lol.)

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about A Patch of Darkness?

[Yolanda Sfetsos] A Patch of Darkness is the first book in my urban fantasy series about a spook catcher. It’s set in Sydney, but it’s an alternate version of our world, where ghosts are an accepted part of society and have certain rights. There are other supernatural creatures as well, but they’re still a secret—well, except for the people who know about them.

[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Yolanda Sfetsos] I’ve always loved ghost stories. They’re spooky, intriguing, and always make me wonder about what’s really out there. When I set out to write this story, I wanted to explore a world where everyone knew that ghosts exist, but only a select few can actually interact with them.

I also wanted a large cast of characters with different backgrounds and problems, all forced to work together. Oh, and a complicated love life for the heroine.

After I had all of those ingredients, the concept was born and the world was full of characters.

[Manga Maniac Café] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?

[Yolanda Sfetsos] The most challenging aspect was—and still is—keeping all the details consistent. There’s so much, and it’s easy for me to forget a small detail that can make a huge impact. So I keep a Sierra Fox Bible, where I write down as much info, research, and details as I can.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are three things Sierra would never have in in her bedroom?

[Yolanda Sfetsos] A jinxed amulet, demons and shadows. You’ll know exactly what I mean if you read the book. 😉

[Manga Maniac Café] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Yolanda Sfetsos] The world around me is often my biggest creative influence. It doesn’t take much to get my mind wandering and eventually coming up with either a character and/or story. Then, when I’ve got something that fits into everyday life, I like to throw in the supernatural.

I’m pretty obsessed with supernatural creatures and phenomena, and if I think about them often enough my muse starts buzzing.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Yolanda Sfetsos] I need my computer/laptop, story notes, as well as pen and paper. Oh, wait, isn’t that really four things?

[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Yolanda Sfetsos] I would have to say Rumble Fish by S.E. Hinton. After I read that in school, I couldn’t get other books fast enough.

[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Yolanda Sfetsos] When I’m not writing I love spending time with my family. I also enjoy going for walks, and working out with my hubby. Oh, and watching my fave TV shows—especially Castle, The Walking Dead, and Jon Stewart.

I also love to read.

[Manga Maniac Café] What do you enjoy most about urban fantasy?

[Yolanda Sfetsos] Definitely the freedom to include so much of what I love in storytelling—blending the supernatural into a contemporary existence, a touch of horror, complicated relationships, love triangles, mystery, suspense, monsters… that type of thing. 😉

[Manga Maniac Café] How can readers connect with you?

[Yolanda Sfetsos] Here are my links:


It was a lot of fun! Thanks so much for having me over at your blog.

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

A Patch of Darkness hits stores May 15.  You can purchase A Patch of Darkness from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below:


All it takes is one weak seam for everything to fall apart.

Sierra Fox, Book 1

In a perfect world, Sierra Fox would have stayed away from the Council she left years ago. But in this world—where spirits have the right to walk among the living—it’s her job to round up troublesome spooks and bring them before that very same Council.

Though her desk is piled high with open cases, she can’t resist an anonymous summons to a mysterious late-night meeting with a bunch of other hunters, each of whom seems to have a unique specialty. The news is dire: something is tearing at the fabric of the universe. If the hunters can’t find who or why in time, something’s going to give in a very messy way.

As current cases, family secrets, new clues and her tangled love life slowly wind themselves into an impossible knot, Sierra finds herself the target of a power-sucking duo intent on stealing her mojo. And realizing she holds the key to the last hope of sealing the widening rift.

Warning: Spook catching: may contain traces of ectoplasm and otherworldly nasties. Not recommended for those with allergies to ghosts, demons, and with boyfriends who think your power is theirs. While reading, avoid dark patches and stay to the light.

Interview with Tamara Morgan, Author of Love is a Battlefield

Tamara Morgan kicks off her Games of Love series with Love is a Battlefield, a recent release from Samhain Publishing.  Tamara dropped by the virtual offices to chat about her new book.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Tamara Morgan] Contemporary romance author with a love of heroes who wear costumes. Video game geek. Wine lover. Zombie apocalypse prepared.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Love is a Battlefield?

[Tamara Morgan] Love is a Battlefield is a modern take on two of my favorite romance tropes: Regency England and Highlanders.

Kate Simmons is a Jane Austen re-enactor with a love of history and romance. Julian Wallace is a professional Highland Games athlete who adheres to the time-honored traditions of Scotland. Sparks between them fly until they realize they both want the same plot of land for their annual conventions.

Basically, it’s a land feud between re-enactment groups with a Renaissance fair, a wood-fired hot tub, and a rich Duke with his own agenda thrown into the mix.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Tamara Morgan] This book has been such a long process it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where everything came from. But I’m a total sucker for historical costumes, and my family goes every year to our city’s Highland Games event, Renaissance Fair, and Civil War re-enactment. I couldn’t think of anything better than to find a way to bring these types of characters to life, especially since it gave me an excuse to write modern-day men in kilts.

Since I decided to play with romance tropes and timelines, I needed characters who would be just at home in a historical novel as a contemporary one. Kate is your typical feisty bluestocking, and Julian is the fierce Highland warrior out to protect his clan.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?

[Tamara Morgan] Walking that fine line between comedy and farce is something I’m continually working on improving. Humor is such a subjective thing, and I know my approach to romantic comedy isn’t for everyone. I did my best to create a fun, entertaining story that gets a few laughs but also tugs a few heartstrings.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Kate?

[Tamara Morgan] Feminine, Romantic, Determined

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Julian would never hide under his kilt?

[Tamara Morgan] Defeat, Fear, Support Hose

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Tamara Morgan] My husband definitely gets kudos for his sense of humor. Whether I’m borrowing stealing his jokes for my characters or relying on him to pull me out of a writerly funk, he can always be counted on to make me laugh. That’s probably why my characters are always laughing with each other—I consider it the foundation of any good, long-term relationship.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Tamara Morgan] COFFEE, my little pink netbook, Twitter

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Tamara Morgan] Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. She’s got a good handle for humor, and I fell in love with her hero, Lincoln, almost immediately. It’s also a total geek book (Dungeons & Dragons! Information Technology!), which should never be underestimated.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Tamara Morgan] You’d have to ask my aunt. Every year for Christmas, she would give me books specially designed to cultivate my tastes and turn me into a romance reader. Every year, she nailed my interests and tastes. The first one I remember (but not the first one I got) was Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman.

Predictably, it features a thirteenth-century love story aimed at kids. I’ve always loved historicals!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Tamara Morgan] Read! People are always asking me what my hobbies are outside of reading and writing, but the truth is that I don’t have many. If I don’t have my computer in hand, I have my Kindle—and I rarely travel anywhere without them both.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Tamara Morgan] I’m most active on Twitter, so if you want to be sure and find me, follow me there at @Tamara_Morgan. I’m also on Facebook at

Every few years I try to blog, but I get very lazy at updating, so for now I have a plain old ordinary website at And if you want to spend more time with Julian, he’s in the (sort of) flesh and waiting for you to pick out his kilt.

Love is a Battlefield is available now! You can order a copy from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below:


About Love is a Battlefield

It takes a real man to wear a kilt. And a real woman to charm him out of it.

It might be modern times, but Kate Simmons isn’t willing to live a life without at least the illusion of the perfect English romance. A proud member of the Jane Austen Regency Re-Enactment Society, Kate fulfills her passion for courtliness and high-waisted gowns in the company of a few women who share her love of all things heaving.

Then she encounters Julian Wallace, a professional Highland Games athlete who could have stepped right off the covers of her favorite novels. He’s everything brooding, masculine, and, well, heaving. The perfect example of a man who knows just how to wear his high sense of honor—and his kilt.

Confronted with a beautiful woman with a tongue as sharp as his sgian dubh, Julian and his band of merry men aren’t about to simply step aside and let Kate and her gaggle of tea-sippers use his land for their annual convention. Never mind that “his land” is a state park—Julian was here first, and he never backs down from a challenge.

Unless that challenge is a woman unafraid to fight for what she wants…and whose wants are suddenly the only thing he can think about.

Warning: The historical re-enactments in this story contain very little actual history. Battle chess and ninja stars may apply.

About Tamara Morgan

Tamara Morgan is a romance writer and unabashed lover of historical reenactments—the more elaborate and geeky the costume requirements, the better. In her quest for modern-day history and intrigue, she has taken fencing classes, forced her child into Highland dancing, and, of course, journeyed annually to the local Renaissance Fair. These feats are matched by a universal love of men in tights, of both the superhero and codpiece variety.

Review: Once Upon a Winter’s Eve by Tessa Dare


Title: Once Upon a Winter’s Eve: A Spindle Cove Novella

Author: Tessa Dare

Publisher: Samhain Publishing



May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Some wallflowers bloom at night…

A Spindle Cove Novella

Violet Winterbottom is a quiet girl. She speaks six languages, but seldom raises her voice. She endured bitter heartbreak in perfect silence. 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. His coarse attire and near-criminal good looks would put any sensible young lady on her guard. 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.

Warning: The heroine packs a pistol, the hero curses in multiple languages, and together they steam up a cold winter’s night.


Once Upon a Winter’s Eve is the first Samhain title that I’ve read, and it’s also one of the growing number of novellas that I have read in.  After recently discovering the appeal of shorter length stories, I have been snapping them up as I see recommendations from bloggers I follow.  I can’t remember where I learned about this particular one, but I’m happy I gave it a try.  At under a dollar, it was a fun read, and a great introduction to both Tessa Dare and Samhain.  I’ll have to go back and read the first Spindle Cove book, A Night to Surrender (which is an Avon release, go figure).

Violet Winterbottom  has retreated to Spindle Cove, where she is nursing a broken heart.  The love of her life, who she now refers to as The Disappointment, loved her and left her, with hardly a word.  Ruined, she is trying to come to terms with her feelings, and is resigned to heed her parents’ demands to return to London.  They are determined to find a match for her, unaware of Violet’s turmoil and her unrequited love for their young neighbor.  When an injured stranger bursts into the Christmas Eve ball she is attending, she’s stunned when the man collapses at her feet.  His incoherent babbling slowly begins to make sense to her.  Gifted in several languages, Violet is tasked with quizzing the man – is he a spy?  What is he doing in Spindle Cove?

This is a fun, fast-paced read with an abundance of action and adventure.  After Violet decides to assist the stranger, she is sent on the adventure of her life.  She is an intelligent and capable young woman, and I quickly began to like her.  And to dislike the man who kicked her to the curb and left her and her bruised heart to fend for themselves.  When Violet is drawn into intrigue by the handsome stranger, she is given the spark that her life has lacked for the last few months.  She embraces the danger and the adventure, and becomes a willing participant in the suspected spy’s attempts at escape. 

While there’s not a lot of depth to this story, there is a lot of fun, and for 79 cents, you can’t beat that.

Grade: B

Review copy purchased from Amazon