Aussie Book Review: Tangled Reins and Other Stories by Stephanie Laurens

tangled Tangled Reins and Other Stories by Stephanie Laurens


Review copy provided by publisher/ DMCPR Media

Harlequin Mira, February 2013

 Synopsis- Tangled Reins by Stephanie Laurens
Miss Dorothea Darent had no intention of ever getting married – until a  dashing stranger with hazel eyes kissed her under a blackberry tree.

Haunted by their kiss, the Marquis of Hazelmere – a notorious scoundrel –  was determined to win Dorothea’s heart while she dazzled London socialites.  Amidst shocked whispers, he swept Dorothea into her first waltz and sparked  the jealous plots of lesser suitors.

Now Dorothea had a choice to make: stick with her plan to stay a respectable  spinster, or run into the arms of her dashing stranger…

The Secrets Of A Courtesan by Nicola Cornick
The epitome of privilege and power, the handsome Duke of Welburn sets all  the ladies’ hearts aflutter as he strides into the village of Fortune’s Folly.

For Eve Nightingale, this fluttering is a mixture of wariness and wonder. Once  his glittering society mistress – caught up in his glamorous world by day and  tangled in his bed sheets by night – she is now no more than a penniless yet  proud shopkeeper.

It’s a world Eve can’t go back to – she has secrets to keep. But this determined  duke seems very keen on unravelling them…

How To Woo A Spinster by Kasey Michaels

Still unmarried at twenty-eight, Lady Emmaline Daughtry has resigned herself  to spinsterhood. Then Captain John Alistair arrives at her door – the very  image of her perfect lover. But can a man with a secret and a woman who’s  never known love find happiness when they least expect to?

Review- Tangled Reins and Other Stories is a collection of three historical romance stories of varying lengths.

The first, Tangled Reins is a novella-length novel by Australian author Stephanie Laurens. It’s the first story I’ve read of Laurens and I was really looking forward to it.

The first chapter immediately placed the reader in the midst of the time and place by introducing Miss Dorothea Darent who is happily unmarried, financially stable and minding her own business picking blackberries when the Marquis of Hazelmere steals a kiss from her leaving her to wonder whether spinsterhood is really the path she wishes to lead. Hazelmere is known for his many mistresses and womanising, but Society is shocked by his sudden taking to Dorothea. He makes it clear to the Ton that he intends to marry her, the only person he hasn’t managed to convince is his wife-to-be.

Though the premise was enticing and the first scene drew me in, I was rather disappointed by the rest of the story. Pacing was a big issue, because this story was just really slow. It felt like every other page Dorothea and Hazelmere were waltzing at a ball and as they fell into a rhythm of socialising and dancing with each other I felt that Dorothea’s feistiness kind of disappeared and she became a bit boring. I understand that Hazelmere wanted to wait until the end of the Season before proposing, Dorothea is not under pressure to marry so she will only marry for love and he wants to make sure she falls for him before he risks proposing. But some variety in their encounters may have made the tension a little more exciting.

Near the end Dorothea managed to get her spunk back and actually confront Hazelmere about his protectiveness and public claim of her and the story did have a satisfactory ending.

Though an interesting premise, Tangled Reins didn’t manage to captivate me nor inspire me to pick up more of Lauren’s titles.

The second story, The Secrets Of A Courtesan by Nicola Cornick is really a short story and I must say, I found this story to be highly enjoyable. I’ve read a couple of Cornick’s titles in the past and always find her writing pleasant and her characters jump of the page.

Eve Nightingale is a shopkeeper, earning a respectable living… far from the role she played five years prior as a courtesan to the Duke of Welburn. When the handsome Duke surprises her with his arrival in the small village she resides she fears the past has caught up with her.

The Duke wants revenge on the woman he loved, who he hoped to marry and who ran out on him 5 years prior claiming there was another man. Eve has never recovered from the grief surrounding the events that led to her fleeing the Duke’s arms and is determined to keep it from him.

A case of misunderstandings and poor communication, the Duke and Eve still have ample chemistry and a bubbling attraction but they are both so hurt by the past that they have built up defences around their feelings.

The Duke and Eve are both very likeable characters, evoking emotion in the reader as well as empathy and I really enjoyed seeing the tension between them intensify until almost all hope is lost.

The Secrets of A Courtesan  has all the elements of a great short story: tension, conflict, engaging characters and a set up that doesn’t require too much back story. A quick, emotionally-driven historical romance- and my favourite of the three in this book.

How To Woo A Spinster by Kasey Michaels is a nice and quick short story introducing Lady Emmaline Daughtry and Captain John Alistair the man who turns up on her doorstep on her twenty-eighth birthday to deliver the news that her brother and three nephews are dead. She doesn’t react in the way he’d expected, there’s no hysterics or crying, except perhaps relief?

A fast moving romance between the hero and heroine creates heightened chemistry and tension but it does lack in the development of the romance probably because of the small page count. It’s a sweet, easy read and I’ll probably check out more titles by this author.

Overall Rating


“It was okay”

“Highly Recommended!”

Tangled Reins can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers

This book was read as part of the AWW2013 challenge:


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