Summary from Amazon:
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.
I loved A Night to Surrender, Tessa Dare’s first Spindle Cove novel, so much that I had to get my hands on the next book in the series. While I was looking up the book order, I saw Once Upon a Winter’s Eve, a novella that follows the event’s of the first book. This turned out to be an excellent life decision, as I really enjoyed this one.
I think that novellas are difficult to pull off. The author has a limited time to introduce characters, get us to understand these characters, and also tell an interesting story. Not an easy thing to do, but I think Tessa Dare did a wonderful job with Once Upon a Winter’s Eve.
We first met Violet Winterbottom in A Night to Surrender, but we really didn’t learn much about her. We get that chance in this novella, and I have to say that I really liked and related to her. She’s accepted that she’s a wallflower, and she really isn’t all that saddened about it. When a mysterious stranger barges into a winter party in Spindle Cove and collapses at Violet’s feet, Violet suddenly finds herself the center of attention.
This stranger doesn’t speak English, and soon everyone is concerned that this injured man could be a French Spy (England is at war with France, after all), because he is speaking in Breton. As Violet can speak many languages, she’s called upon to lend her expertise to help figure out if this stranger is. And Violet can’t help but think that this stranger bares an uncanny resemblance to someone from Violet’s past.
I really enjoyed this short novella. I do wish it was a little longer so we could have gotten a bit more back story and character development between Violet and the stranger, but isn’t that always the case with enjoyable novellas? I was pretty fascinated by Violet and the stranger’s story, and although I wasn’t a big fan of some the decisions that the strange made, ultimately he turned out to be someone I liked. I can’t get into too much detail without spoilers, but ultimately I was rooting for Violet and the Stranger to find a way to make things work. If you like historical romance, and are looking for something to read in an hour to two, then give Once Upon a Winter’s Eve a try. Or, you know, you could just read the whole Spindle Cove series because it’s amazing!