If a woman could die of humiliation, Cecily Hale would have perished three hours ago. Luke Trenton had finally returned to Swinford Manor, only to cruelly spurn her long-held love. But she couldn’t conveniently die of shame on the spot—oh, no. Instead she joined her friends on this ridiculous search for a legendary man-beast. Now she’ll die here—alone in the woods, at the tusks of a snarling boar. Luke left for war a dashing youth and returned a man—just not the same man Cecily fell in love with. His passion for her is stronger than ever, but the ravages of battle changed him in ways she wouldn’t understand. Pushing her away was supposed to save her, not throw her into the path of another inhuman creature…or into the arms of another man.
For it is a man who rescues Cecily, just as the boar attacks. A mysterious, silent man who disappears into the woods, leaving her with just a glimpse—of a fleeing white deer. Could her rescuer be the man-beast of local lore? A dangerous myth has captured Cecily’s imagination, putting Luke on the horns of a dilemma. Unless he summons the passion and tenderness to win her back, he could lose her forever…to the Werestag.
Cecily Hale has been in love with Luke Trenton, Viscount Merritt, for 4 years. Luke went to join the Army and left Cecily with some unfinished business between them and pining for him. Now he’s back and trying hard to ignore Cecily because war has changed him and not for the better. A midnight hunt for a spooky legend opens both Luke’s and Cecily’s eyes to things that were clear to everyone but the two of them.
Cecily is a character I immediately connected with. She is direct, tenacious and caring but also realistic and down to earth. She doesn’t whine when things don’t go her way. No she takes the bull, or in this case, the Werestag, by the horns and deals with it. I like that in heroines. If Cecily was the bright element in this novella, Luke was definitely the dark force of it. The darkness and torment just poured out of him. He is tainted by war and feels unworthy of Cecily’s love and admiration. Yet, he is unable to resist the powerful attraction he has for her.
There are a few secondary characters that all fulfill their roles perfectly. There was even room for a very nice secondary romance between two great secondary characters who had some fierce chemistry going.
This was one of the best historical novellas I’ve read to date. It’s a tale of emotional and physical battles, love, change and strength of character. All bundled into a short story that felt like a full-length novel. The love scenes are arousing yet done in a classy way, fitting the story perfectly. The story of the Werestag had a surprising wrap-up, at least to me because I didn’t see that one coming. Love it when an author surprises me, so another winning point for Tessa Dare. I was really sorry to leave Cecily and Luke and for me the novella could easily have continued for another 60 or 100 pages but I was glad to see them have their HEA.
In a mere 64 pages Tessa Dare penned down a lovely, rounded and excellent novella. She managed to create a cast of wonderful characters and an alluring romantic story that was far from cliché. She is truly a gifted storyteller and if this short story is any indication, I am really looking forward to her full-length work.
When he did not answer, she took three paces in his direction. “I know how proud you must be of those enigmatic silences, but I believe I deserve an answer.” She stood between his icy silence and the heated aura of the fire. Scorched on one side, bitterly cold on the other—like a slice of toast someone had forgotten to turn.
He wanted to possess her mouth, her body, her mind and heart. To touch every deep, soft and secret part of her: the tender arch of her palate, the vulnerable curve beneath each breast, the snug corner of her heart where his memory lived.