Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Tessa Dare

REVIEW: A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare

REVIEW: A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare

Dear Ms. Dare:

You are well known for your cute toy filled book trailers (Stud Club Trilogy / Maya Banks’ Highlander Trilogy) and I was tempted to do a lego review for this book. After all, I have a castle.

castle

I bought some canons.

lego cannon

I have minifigs where the girl’s boobs look like they are busting out of her top like any decent romance heroine.

Busty girl

I don’t have a carriage but I did debate buying one. I have cows though which can depict a gentle, pastoral setting.

lego cows

But alas, my Lego helpers have abandoned me for other things.

garter barbie

A Night to Surrender is the battle of the sexes story. It’s a very cute and sweet romance. At times, I just wanted to squeeze the book it was so darn adorable.  However, the battle of the sexes stories are notoriously difficult to do because you have to make sure that you don’t demonize one sex in order to elevate the other. On the macro scale, I thought you were less successful in portraying this because the entire story is about how this bucolic retreat for women was made better by a male outsider coming in and changing the male/female dynamic. On the micro scale, I felt that the two protagonists were portrayed as much more balanced.

Tessa Dare a night to surrenderSpindle Cove has gained the reputation as a retreat for women, so much so that it is called Spinster’s Cove by some (a term probably coined by a male to be derisive). But Spindle Cove is a safe place for women to come. Susanna Finch is the daughter of the only local “gentleman”, Sir Lewis Finch, albeit an ignored daughter, and is the leader of her community. She is revered by both the men and the women. A gentlewoman by the name of Mrs. Highwood is considering sending her three daughters to stay at Spindle Cove. Susanna realizes that the bookish Minerva and the slightly asthmatic Diana whose treatment at the hands of male hacks has led her deeper into illness could do very well at Spindle Cove where they would gain self confidence and good health. Susanna’s plans to enfold the Highwood girls into the town’s embrace is placed in jeopardy by the arrival of Lieutenant Colonel Victor Bramwell. Bram plans to convince Sir Finch that Bram is fully capable of going back into battle despite his gimpy right knee.

Sir Finch is a “celebrated innovator of fireams and artillery”, is an advisor to the royals, and as such has enormous pull with the British military. A recommendation from Sir Finch all but guarantees Bram’s return to active duty.  Bram believes that his place is life is one of a soldier.  It’s all that he knows how to do and it’s how he measures his self worth.  Not soldiering feels like a diminishment to Bram.

Bram is then tasked with mounting a 24 man militia to march in the midsummer year’s fair. Bram eagerly accepts this challenge before realizing that finding 24 able bodied men to serve in the militia in Spindle’s Cove may be more difficult than spotting comets without a telescope. His cousin says that there are no men in Spinter’s Cove what with the women in the town completely emasculating anything that may have balls and stalk between their legs. Bram, however, is completely undone by a smart woman and Susannah with her talk of battle strategies and her competency with a gun nearly has Bram swooning.

The introduction of Bram, Colin, and their manly men set the town a flutter and none of the ladies can talk of anything else.  While some the book is a clever poke at societal expectations such as when Bram is told that he should marry and raise a family and give up soldiering, something undoubtedly told to hundreds of girls, there is also an unconscious undertone that something is wrong with Spindle Cove.  Before Bram comes to town apparently none of the men could stand up to Susanna and thus their tavern is turned into a teahouse and the smithy is not banging out horseshoes and swords but fashioning clasps on lockets. The truth is that Susanna is a good leader and the overt text of the story acknowledges this toward the end.

The story is funny and charming. The sexual tension between Susanna and Bram is immediate but believable. Susanna and Bram, both individually and together, are sharp and fulsome characters. There are no wasted scenes and the dialogue is snappy. I also felt that Susanna and Bram made a great couple and that their strengths and weaknesses overlapped. The story is very romantic with both characters making big gestures (and Bram making the biggest).

But I admit that throughout the book I felt uncomfortable. The idea that you seem to be heralding is that a balanced community is better than an unbalanced one, i.e., that everyone will be happier if the men are integrated in a equal fashion with the women. I think that this worldbuilding works better on a grander scale as in a science fiction where the entire world is unbalanced.  When the Cove, however, is one bastion of retreat for women where they can come and be judged not on the basis of their ability to pour tea and bear offspring, but on their intelligence and capabilities, does it really need to be changed? “They included the sickly, the scandalous, and the painfully shy; young wives disenchanted with the wrong men…All of them delivered here by the guardians to whom they presented problems, in hopes that the sea air would cure them of their ills.” The book goes on to say “No ‘cures’ were necessary. They didn’t need doctors pressing lancets to their veins, or daily doses of poison. They just needed a place to be themselves. Spindle Cove was that place.” Did Spindle Cove need to change? It seemed like a question that was never asked, let alone, answered. The absence of that debate, particularly given the stance of the leading female protagonist (aka heroine) was one that made this book a B- rather than a B.

Best regards,

Jane

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | nook | Sony | Kobo

Wednesday Midday Links: Maya Banks Trailer & Agency Publishers Sued

Wednesday Midday Links: Maya Banks Trailer & Agency Publishers Sued

First up is this trailer of Maya Banks’ Highlander series. Men in Kilts. It’s must watch YouTube. (It is also part of the auction that Maya Banks won in support of our blogger friend, Fatin, when she lost her husband in a senseless shooting. Tessa Dare put it together and it features, amongst other things, Men in Kilts. At least watch the opening sequence, won’t you?

*****

This seemed inevitable. Apple and five of the big 6: Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins, Macmillan, and Hachette are being sued.  Random House is the only one that is not and likely because it joined the agency party late, it’s hard to point the collusion finger toward them.  First noticed by Edward Nawotka at Publishing Perspectives and explored more in depth here.  I wrote back in the day

The economic history of a vertical price constraint always leads to higher prices. Even the Supreme Court didn’t rebut that in Leegin, instead it argued that in some cases, freeloading disincentivized quality service to consumers (noting that price isn’t the only thing in measuring whether anticompetitive behavior has a pro consumer result).

In books, however, as opposed to luxury goods or technology, there is no specialized training that a seller needs to sell a particular novel. Further, I don’t think any publisher could show that they engage in any kind of specialized service or training that the Leegin court talked about in overturning the 97 year old decision against RPM.

So, no, I would never be in favor of RPMs because they are decidedly anti competitive, create artificial pricing floors.

When all publishers go to the agency model wherein the publisher sets the price (and they will all move to that model now), and the retailer is not allowed to discount, there will be no trending downward of prices. It’s very possible that if all publishers move to the agency model (unless they can prove that it is, in truth, real agency relationships), I have some doubts whether the big 6 won’t face some action of violation the Sherman Act.

My thoughts are that collusion will be hard to sustain but it may succeed in proving a horizontal cartel by mutuality of action.  However, the Leegin decision did not rule out cases involving retail price maintenance, only made them very hard to prove.  What the big six are doing, however, isn’t exactly Agency pricing because their prices are bound by the rules Apple created.

Mark Coker, the owner of Smashwords, also put out the pricing guidelines, as required by Apple.   Even if you don’t have an iThing or plan to own one, Apple pricing scheme is being adopted by five of the Big 6 and will likely inform the prices at other retailers (this is one thing Amazon is fighting for – the right not to be outpriced by Apple).

Full right to price without Apple restrictions exists for:

  • Books that do not have a print equivalent.
  • Hardcover list prices that exceed $40 in print
  • Mass market or trade paperbacks list prices that exceed $22

For Mass Markets or Trade Paperbacks

  • For any book with a print equivalent list priced at $22 or less, the cap is $9.99
  • This is for the first year only
  • After the first year, price can be anything UNLESS APPLE DEEMS IT UNREALISTIC

For Hardcovers

  • Anything under $22.00 is capped at $9.99
  • $22.01-$24.00, the maximum ebook price is $10.99;
  • $24.01-$25.00 is $11.99;
  • $25.01-$27.50 is $12.99;
  • $27.51-$30.00 is $14.99;
  • $30.01-$35.00 is $16.99;
  • $35.01-$40.00 is $19.99.

It is Apple that has decreed that books fall within certain guidelines and the publishers have followed them.  Thus, it isn’t actually the publishers who are setting the prices independently.  That may actually be the downfall of the publishers but probably not Apple.

I’ve written a few articles about the Agency pricing model:

The Publishing Perspectives piece also notes that the same law firm is looking at launching an ebook royalty class action suit, asserting that ebook royalties aren’t properly accounted for.

*****

Web Browsers for Kindle Web App

Amazon has launched a html5 web app for Kindle.  This is only useable on Chrome, Safari, and iPad.  It is NOT available for iTouch/iPhone users.  It does NOT have any way to organize your books.  It does NOT have any notes or highlighting features.  It DOES have syncing and a nice looking Amazon eBookstore.