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REVIEW: Trail of the Tudor Blue by Gwen Roman

“For straight-and-narrow art restorer Ardis Bellamy, a trip to the South of France to reclaim a historic blue diamond necklace should have been only mildly nervewracking. Understatement. In order to succeed, she’s going to have to learn whom she can and can’t trust, give the thugs who are chasing her the slip, and decide whether her growing relationship with sexy “recovery agent” James Tate is worth risking everything for — or whether he’s been double-crossing her all along.”

Dear Ms. Roman,

I love the image of books set in the south of France. The glamour, the chic-ness, the beauty of the area and, due to the movie “To Catch a Thief,” the potential for danger. More on that later. “Trail of the Tudor Blue” lives up to all of these and provided me with my first A grade read this year.

Trail Of The Tudor Blue (Jewel of the Night) by Gwen Roman The action, danger and mystery start immediately as you toss Ardis, and us, straight into the story. Since it’s a first person POV telling, it makes sense and keeps everyone on their toes to figure out who’s who, what’s what and have Tate remain as much a wild card to readers as he is to Ardis.

Ardis immediately feels some attraction for Tate but, thank goodness, she keeps a rein on it. I hate heroines who fall in lust with men they’re unsure of and then decide that he must be trustworthy because of those feelings. After all the trouble you take to make Tate a potential bad guy, I would have questioned Ardis’s intelligence. Instead, she’s smart and doesn’t let lust crowd her thinking – mostly. She’s skeptical about what Tate is up to and doesn’t fall into the “I’m in lurve so he must be too” trap. He’s shadowy and she’s in up to her neck with people and situations she’s never experienced so this works for me. I’m a cautious person too so I can really see her POV.

Tate, meanwhile, might appeal to readers who like a hero who initially has questionable motives. Especially if he actually does have them instead of just pretending to. I like that he really is initially out for himself despite any physical attraction he might feel for Ardis. He also fills the “bad boy” role so beloved in romance books and might actually still be something of one when the book ends. And Tate is a Tarheel – yeah!

The development of the romance here is definitely of the “two steps forward, one step back” variety. The actual amount of time that elapses from the start of the story until the end is fairly short but the progression of feelings between Ardis and Tate doesn’t feel that way. In fact, I was actually a tad impatient for Ardis to begin to trust Tate.

The ultimate villain of the piece is a piece of work. But I can see this sort of person hanging around Monaco and southern France – this certainly seems to be the destination for them – and the reason for coveting the Tudor Blue makes sense for a person in this position. At this point, you’d be willing to believe in almost anything to obtain you goal. I love that part of Ardis’s growth as a character involves telling this person off in no uncertain terms.

The book seems to have a good feel for the locations you include. I can see the narrow, old streets of the small towns with flower-box filled windows. I could imagine Ardis as Grace Kelly roaring around twisty road curves and slightly scaring Tate with her Ferrari driving skills. The sea off the coast of Sardinia sparkled in my mind and I wouldn’t mind owning the villa that slimy Ahnshen has. BTW, I love his man-maid Curtis.

But…but…but here comes a teensy spoiler, my slight niggle and what brings the grade down. [spoiler]Ardis and Tate get what they came for in the end and Ardis then hands the necklace over to a diplomat but …isn’t this the same diplomat set up for her by the villain? [/spoiler]Can she trust that the necklace will get where she wants it to go?

I like the neat segue to the future for Tate and Ardis. This is a marriage of careers and knowledge made in heaven. Also Ardis breaks free of stiff control over her life that she’s been burdened under after her feckless father darted in and out of her life. I’m left with an image of her blossoming into the woman she’s always secretly wanted to be.

So adventure, suspense, romance – the book manages to balance all three without the characters turning to gooey syrup over love. It has vivid imagery, smart dialogue and good pacing. It’s not all breakneck but there didn’t seem to be any sagging in the middle – something is always on the burner even if it’s just simmering. I only reluctantly put the book down when I absolutely had to and end it hoping that there could be future adventures for Ardis and Tate. Good job and it’s nice to start the year with an A- book.


Book Link | Kindle | All Romance eBooks

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.


  1. DS
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 07:17:13

    Thanks, I like romantic suspense. But I would never have guessed all of that hid under that cover. The book was recommended by Amazon and I clicked past it because it looked at a glance like the story of an underaged garage mechanic in the 1950’s. Not every book needs to have mantitty and low riding pants on the cover.

  2. Jayne
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 07:33:14

    LOL, I might have pegged him as a 1990s garage mechanic but he’s definitely more appealing within the book covers than on the cover.

  3. Pat
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 07:47:16

    I took one look at the cover and thought “Yuck!” But your review makes it sound as if the cover and contents have nothing to do with each other.

  4. becca
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 08:05:50

    I love romantic suspense too, and it’s even affordable in Kindle format! Pity about the cover, but I don’t see those much on my Kindle anyway. (going to go order it now)

  5. tori aka ggs_closet
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 08:10:00

    Great review. I like the sound of this one. lol I’m not normally a cover ho but this one wouldn’t have even caught my eye. *im ashamed*

  6. Dani
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 08:32:25

    I’ve been looking for a good romantic suspense sense I finished Stuart’s Ice series. This one sounds great.

  7. Dani
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 08:33:28

    *since* never post before coffee!

  8. Tweets that mention REVIEW: Trail of the Tudor Blue by Gwen Roman | Dear Author --
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 08:58:51

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by rissatoo, dearauthor. dearauthor said: NewPost: REVIEW: Trail of the Tudor Blue by Gwen Roman […]

  9. LindaG
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 10:15:30

    Great review. I love this book and also hope to see more adventures with Ardis and Tate! Don’t let the cover hold you back. There’s a gem of a story inside. (hehe)

  10. Jane
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 10:19:37

    @LindaG: Yeah, the Reply button is working again.

    Yes, the cover is really offputting. I would never have guessed that there was such an interesting story inside!

  11. Janine
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 10:25:07

    Very intriguing review! Neither the cover nor the title would have caught my attention, so I’m curious — what made you pick this one up?

  12. liz
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 11:59:22

    I’ve been seeing this book around more and more. I’m moving it to the top of my “must read” pile now.

  13. Elisa Beatty
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 14:00:25

    Sounds really intriguing! Thanks for the review!

  14. orannia
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 17:40:43

    Thank you Jayne!

    Hmmm, the cover seems…not right for the book’s premise, but I love the title! (Had a chat with a friend recently about good titles and Trail of the Tudor Blue caught my eye, which is why I read the review :)

    I do like the sound of the book so I think I’ll ‘suggest’ it to my library :)

  15. Jayne
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 18:42:08

    @Janine: I’m always looking for unusual occupations for main characters so the art restorer aspect caught my attention then the south of France setting then the hint of danger implied by the blurb.

  16. Jayne
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 19:22:05

    @orannia: I like the title too. It’s different and stands out from the same old cast of titles that seem to get rehashed, rearranged and reused.

  17. Laura Florand
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 19:23:20

    Jayne…how can being a Tarheel be a plus? :) (With the game going on tonight, couldn’t resist.)

    The cover is completely off-putting, but it sounds like a delight. I love the setting already. :)

  18. Jayne
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 19:37:35

    @Laura Florand: Being a Tarheel is always a plus. And I’m not counting them out tonight. Go Heels!

    I figured you’d like the location of the book. ;)

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    Feb 13, 2011 @ 11:47:52

    […] Dear Author […]

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    Apr 04, 2011 @ 12:04:01

    […] Reviews Dear Author – A- […]

  21. DABWAHAing | Shannon Stacey
    Mar 16, 2012 @ 08:21:21

    […] it sounds awesome and I can be pretty confident it’s a good read since Jayne gave it an A- review at Dear Author and put it on her Best of 2011 list. (I’m probably not doing this trash-talking thing very […]

  22. Janet Terlecki
    Dec 12, 2012 @ 19:18:42

    I can’t find the e-book anywhere, will se be publishing somewhere else. I hope so.

  23. Jayne
    Dec 13, 2012 @ 04:31:17

    @Janet Terlecki: After a short search online, I can’t find an ebook either. In fact I can barely find anything about this author though I’ve heard (can’t remember where) that she publishes under another pen name as well. It’s a shame since I loved this book and have checked in the almost 2 years since to see if she’s written anything else.

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