Saturday, May 4, 2013

Review: Beauty and the Blacksmith by Tessa Dare (e-novella)


As a fan of Tessa Dare's Spindle Cove series, I've always considered Diana Highwood as the princess of Spindle Cove. She was presented as this perfectly beautiful, and delicate lady who was the jewel of her mother's eye. There may have been a part of Diana who believed her mother who said she would be destroyed by her asthma -- so she contained herself: all her happiness, sadness, anger, and love were hidden away from herself and from the world, much like the little trinkets purchased from the Brights' All Things shop, which she carefully hid at the bottom of her trunk. She tried to control what she felt for Aaron Dawes, the blacksmith -- allowing herself a little bit of him every day -- but never more than that. This is Diana's irony -- it is generally believed that she could have any man she wanted because of her beauty and her accomplishments -- but she can never have the one man she desperately wanted.

Like the rest of the world, Aaron loved Diana from afar, afraid to soil her with his tradesman's hands and it took a lot of courage for Aaron to take that first step closer, and then the next step, and the next -- until he was close enough to realize that Diana was flesh and blood, heart and passion.

I love Tessa Dare's play on "dirty" in both the literal and figurative sense. Diana is a true English lady who is always very nicely put together: always knowing the right thing to say and the right thing to do. She has never dug up rocks and gone exploring like her sister Minerva and she has never experience the rigors of life because of her asthma -- her mother had kept her in their house, safe and unsullied by the world. Inwardly, Diana also has a pureness to her. She is kind and sweet and loving and loyal. But she is in love with Aaron: a man who is surrounded by coal and soot and whose hands are rough and grimy -- Aaron is the opposite of who Diana's mother wants for Diana, who dreams of pairing Diana with a peer.

By habit, she'd never strayed too near a fireplace or stove -- not only because her mother had insisted gentlewomen didn't dirty their hands with such tasks but also because Diana had feared that inhaling smoke or ash could trigger a breathing crisis.
- loc 723 - 736

Diana is the woman on the pedestal. She is perfect, unblemished, and there to be worshipped, but this honor is tainted: being on a pedestal, Diana cannot move from her fixed spot. She is adored but cannot adore. She can be touched but she cannot return the gesture.

What happens, then, when said woman is knocked off her pedestal? The most common belief is that she would shatter and be ruined forever. But, what really happens is that the woman is set free.

..."Tonight, my sister asked me, Don't I want to start living? And I realized I don't even know what I want from life. I know what my mother wants for me. I know what everyone else expects. But what do I truly desire?"

Excellent question. Aaron waited for the answer.

Her hand pressed to her chest. "Do I want to have a season in London and marry a lord? Do I want to stay here in the village and become a permanent spinster? Do I want to join a circus? I don't know, Mr. Dawes. I don't know, and it terrifies me. All those years of setting aside my emotions. My lungs are healed, but at what cost? I am a stranger to me own heart."

...

"There's only one thing I feel absolutely certain of," she said.

"Tell me."

Whatever it was, he vowed that she would have it.

...

"This afternoon. She drew close. "I wanted you to kiss me. I wanted it more than I can remember wanting anything in my life."
- loc 374 - 388

I love the title Beauty and the Blacksmith as it plays on the Beauty and the Beast theme, showcasing the transformative power of love. Diana's love for Aaron is the impetus for her emergence and makes her discover her true potential.

Novellas are most often criticized for lacking depth and development, and is is an understandable concern due to the limited length of the form -- but there have been authors who have used the novella in a tremendously creative and imaginative way and managed to create the world in a grain of sand (Apologies, William Blake).

Tessa Dare is one of those authors. Her previous novella (also part of the Spindle Cove series), Once Upon a Winter's Eve, is another shining example of the novella done right.

Beauty and the Blacksmith is Book 3.5 in Tessa Dare's Spindle Cove series. Book 4, Any Duchess Will Do, will be released on May 28. (I'm reading it now and it is amazing. ^_^) To find out more about Tessa Dare and her books, visit her website. She is also on Facebook and on Goodreads.

1 comments:

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...