A temporary engagement, a lifetime in the making...
After years of fending for herself, Kate Taylor found friendship and acceptance in Spindle Cove--but she never stopped yearning for love. The very last place she'd look for it is in the arms of Corporal Thorne. The militia commander is as stone cold as he is brutally handsome. But when mysterious strangers come searching for Kate, Thorne steps forward as her fiance. He claims to have only Kate's safety in mind. So why is there smoldering passion in his kiss?
Long ago, Samuel Thorne devoted his life to guarding Kate’s happiness. He wants what's best for her, and he knows it's not marriage to a man like him. To outlast their temporary engagement, he must keep his hands off her tempting body and lock her warm smiles out of his withered heart. It's the toughest battle of this hardened warrior's life...and the first he seems destined to lose.
Tessa Dare is quickly becoming one of my favorite historical authors especially with the way that I have been enjoying her Spindle Cove series. I have given 5 stars to the first two Spindle Cove books so my expectations for A Lady by Midnight were possibly unfairly high. How could a series that I already adore get even better? Well, somehow, Ms. Dare accomplished the impossible by giving me a book that exceeded all my expectations and more. This is easily my favorite of the Spindle Cove books...and that is definitely saying something!
Kate Taylor is a character that has been in the background of the previous books in the series that always intrigued me. Her facial birthmark and less than perfect past have made her hesitant about being accepted by society, but moving to Spindle Cove provided her with a place to belong. I absolutely adored Kate and found her strength and determination to be very admirable especially once the reader learns how heartbreaking her childhood really was. But, what I really liked about her was the fact that, even though her life wasn't perfect, she still did her best to keep her spirits up. She rarely moped around and gave excuses about why she was the way that she was. This was a refreshing change of pace in historical romance and made root for her to get her happily ever after even more.
And then there's Thorne. The man that I have had a tiny crush on since we met him in A Night to Surrender. BTW, this crush became a full-blown obsession while reading this book. I will admit that I always have a soft spot for the quiet, brooding hero and Thorne gives me all those attributes in spades. He is just such a sweet, but sad character that I wanted to reach in and give him a hug. His past trauma has left him with physical and mental scars which make him feel unable and unworthy of accepting affection. Yet despite these feelings, Thorne feels very protective of Kate and spends much of his time making sure that she is happy. I found him to be a wonderful hero who is in desperate need of some type of happiness.
As a couple, Kate and Thorne are dynamite. The chemistry is obvious from the beginning and it is a treat to watch them struggle with that. I really liked how Dare portrayed their relationship with each other and how it related back to their pasts. It was also fun to read about the way that Kate managed to break down Thorne's walls without him being aware of it. I love it when the two main characters are shown enjoying each other's company in and out of the bedroom and Dare definitely accomplished that with this book.
Like the other Spindle Cove books, there are quite a few side characters that help keep the story moving along and providing some much needed comic relief. I continue to adore the way that the townsfolk of Spindle Cove are portrayed. They are quirky, small town-type characters that have some real depth to them. Even though Dare only spends a bit of time on each during the books, I feel like I know and care about them much more than typical secondary characters.
Readers also got a bit of fun with the return of previous Spindle Cove couples, Victor and Susanna, and Colin and Minerva. And can I say that I am really hoping Diana Highwood gets her own story soon? I am fascinated by her character and her relationship with her mother and want to know more. Ms. Dare also provides readers with a new set of secondary characters with the appearance of the unorthodox Gramercy family who might be a link to Kate's mysterious past. I found all the members of this family to be a great addition to the Spindle Cove cast.
The plot of A Lady by Midnight is jam-packed with major and minor plotlines. Readers get to see the evolution of Kate and Thorne's relationship through their interactions before and after meeting the Gramercys. They also get to learn more about each of the protagonists and how their pasts have shaped who they are today. Despite all the different paths that the story took, I never found myself confused or overwhelmed. I think this shows how good of a writer Tessa Dare is and detailed her storytelling has become over the years.
In conclusion, this historical romance was an absolute treat to read. I went through a variety of emotions and ended up with a huge, goofy grin on my face by the end. It is so great to read a story where everything works for your and A Lady by Midnight definitely did that for me. I highly recommend this book to any fan of historical romance. Even if you haven't read the earlier Spindle Cove books, I think you can easily enjoy this one as a stand-alone.
Favorite Quote: "I never thought Greek philosophy could make a damn bit of sense to me. And most of it didn't, but those words just seemed right. 'Love is composed of a single soul, inhabiting two bodies.'" He took her by the shoulders drawing her close. "It rang true for me, in a way nothing else did. Whatever soul I had, Katie, I think I placed it in your keeping twenty years ago. And now, it's as if...every time we kiss, you give a little piece of it back."
1. A Night to Surrender
1.5. Once Upon a Winter's Eve
2. A Week to be Wicked
3. A Lady By Midnight
4. Any Duchess Will Do (Coming May 2013)