2022, Week The Tenth: Tessa Dare’s Stud Club Series

March 10, 2022 Regency Romance 1

Hello There, Bookworms,
It’s been another week where I desperately want to escape from the news (which has been, more or less, every week since late 2016.) What better way to escape than flouncing off to Regency England with some Tessa Dare? If you don’t already have a library card, go get one. My library system had the first book in this series available digitally but not the other two. Their website made it super easy for me to send a “hey I think you should add this to the collection” note and BOOM. A couple days later, book 2 was available for me to digitally check out. Naturally, I then requested the third book and VOILA. The library now has the complete collection of Tessa Dare’s Stud Club trilogy available in digital format for the discerning reader in this small-ish Illinois city. Literally! All I did was click a button! It was great! LIBRARIES RULE.

This series was not precisely what I was expecting from Tessa Dare. I mean, yes, it’s a Regency Romance series with all the trappings, but the style was a departure. Instead of the mild wackiness I’ve come to expect from Spindle Cove, et al, this was significantly more angsty and less humorous. Which makes sense because it all centers on an actual murder mystery, but alas. Not a food fight, cat bent on interrupting amorous endeavors, or macabre doll funeral to be had. There was a parrot at one point, but he wasn’t even particularly foul-mouthed. So, while I enjoyed the series, it’s not going to number among my favorite Tessa Dares. That said, it was still a nice distraction from actual life, so let’s go over the highlights.

One Dance With a Duke: There’s this Duke who is in want of a wife (it is a truth universally acknowledged, after all) and he keeps showing up at various balls of the ton at the stroke of midnight, dancing a set with one lady, and then disappearing into the night. So he’s young, wealthy, handsome, AND mysterious. The ladies of the ton are all a-quiver. Except Amelia D’Orsay. She’s heading straight to spinster-ville and isn’t too bothered about it. Her only real concern is the welfare of her family, her plans for the summer, and dreaming up new recipes. Unfortunately, she’s got a brother who cannot seem to keep out of trouble. In an effort to bail Jack out (again) Amelia breaks all the rules of social convention and demands to dance with the reclusive Duke of Moreland AKA Duke of Midnight when he finally arrives so he’ll forgive Jack’s gambling debts. The night then takes some very strange and upsetting turns. The founder of the exclusive Stud Club (named not for the membership’s hotness, but for breeding rights to a famous race horse, alas) is found murdered the very same night and all is chaos. And then, shortly after the chaos, even more chaos, but, like, the steamy kind. I don’t want to give too much away, because the whole series centers on secrets and whatnot, but it gets pretty angsty.

Twice Tempted by a Rogue: This book follows one of the three remaining members of the elusive Stud Club, Rhys St. Maur. After a spectacularly miserable childhood, he became a decorated war hero. As broody as they come, this guy finally decides to face his demons and head back to the moors of Devonshire to see what’s left of his entailed property. While he’s there, he runs into Meredith Maddox, the daughter of his family’s former groom (the horse minder kind of groom, not the wedding kind.) She’s running the area’s only inn that she inherited from her late husband and doing a heck of a job keeping the flailing town afloat as a result. Rhys is worried that he looks too scary to love (because, you know, literal battle scars) but Meredith is ALL about it. Rhys is convinced that the only reason he’s still alive is that fate has somehow deemed him ridiculously lucky, so he takes it into his head that it’s fate that he and Meredith have found each other again and they’re destined to be together. Meredith is… Skeptical. Anyway, there’s a lot of trauma that’s hashed out and there’s still that murder to be solved, and then there are the local smugglers who are annoyed that Rhys’s presence will cramp their style. I don’t know how to discuss them without being spoilery, but suffice it to say that some of the shenanigans Meredith got up to in her youth put a cramp in my enjoyment of this book. Ahem. It is NOT COOL to be a peeping Tom even if you’re a 14 year old girl with a crush. Extremely not OK. Not romantic. Just creepy. Don’t be Meredith.

Three Nights With a Scoundrel: Julian Bellamy is the most fashionable scoundrel of the ton. With mysterious origins, no claim to aristocracy, and a penchant for affairs with the wives of the upper crust, he’s not the most savory character. But after Leo, founder of the Stud Club, is murdered, Julian is beyond bereft. He embarks on a single minded quest to find the parties responsible- particularly since he’s gotten it into his head that the ruffians were after him. He’s riddled with guilt, in no small part because Leo’s death leaves his twin sister Lily without many resources, and Julian has had it bad for Lily since the moment he met her. Lily, for her part, is devastated by her brother’s loss and takes comfort in his dear friend Julian. Truth be told, Lily has been harboring a bit of a crush on Julian for some time, but he’s convinced he’s unworthy of her affection. He’s a bastard, orphan, son of a… deaf scullery maid (sorry, sometimes the Hamilton just leaks out of my brain) and she’s a woman of royal lineage. Julian is just dripping with angst and secrets and suspicions and will not give up on the search for Leo’s killers, but also cannot resist Lily. But, of course, as this is a romance, things end well, and the series is neatly wrapped up. The very last twist was one I was not quite expecting. I saw Leo’s secrets coming a mile away, but PF’s? That bit and the banter surrounding it felt more like the Tessa Dare I’m used to, so it was a nice way to close things up.

All in all, The Stud Club Trilogy is an enjoyable way to pass the time and escape from existential horror. Perhaps not as funny as some of Dare’s other works, but authors are allowed to change things up sometimes. I do not begrudge your creativity, Tessa Dare! I just like the silliness more than the angst. It’s who I am. If you are ALSO like this, then you need to read every word of the Spindle Cove Series, the Castles Ever After Series, and the Girl Meets Duke Series. Alright, that is enough for me today. I actually asked someone recently if they’d “make an introduction” for me and I think that’s a sign I should read something set in the present day. Sending my regards for the health of your family, as ever.

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One Response to “2022, Week The Tenth: Tessa Dare’s Stud Club Series”

  1. Lillian

    I didn’t realize the library would add books so easily. I’m going to try it. My library often has the second and third book in a series, but not the first or fourth.

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