Published: August 28, 2012 (Avon Books)
Format: Digital ARC from publisher via Edelweiss
Summary: 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?
My Review: Tessa Dare has done it again. I have yet to read a Dare novel during which I did not laugh multiple times and swoon nearly as often. Spindle Cove is my favorite series of hers yet, and A Lady by Midnight just may be the best of the three full-length novels in it (although it's definitely a close race).
One of the advantages of a romance series is that you can slowly build to a couple through books before the two ever actually get their story told. This was the case in A Lady by Midnight. Even though their build-up during the previous books was very subtle when compared to Book Two's Couple (so as not to spoil it for you) in A Night to Surrender, I was utterly captivated by Kate and Thorne. There was so much mystery surrounding them! In the previous books, there was pretty much one tiny moment where there was just a hint of...something. That's it. That's all you got. Did they have a positively torrid affair? Were they childhood BFFs? Was he secretly an undercover spy who recognized her as the long-lost princess of a tiny-but-successful country? YOU HAVE NO IDEA. When I read the excerpt - just enough to be tantalizing - in A Week to be Wicked, I went positively berserk. To think, I was cruelly going to have to wait months for this! (Really, I have a tendency to get dramatic over the wait for books. Reason #4378 that I love the book blogging community is that you guys get it.)
Anyway. I was not entirely sure what to expect of Kate and Thorne's story, but I knew I was going to love it. And I was not wrong! While it was a part of the story, I did not think of it at as "posing as the fianceé" book at all. There was so much more to the story. Kate was digging into her past, trying to figure out who her parents might have been. Then, all the sudden, people came out of the woodwork, claiming Kate, an orphan since she can remember, as a part of their unconventional but Titled family. There was mystery surrounding this, as well as the continued question of how, exactly, Thorne knew Kate. As to that, there were hints throughout the book before the truth finally came out.
The romance between these two was incredible! I love how neither of them were 100% "pretty people." Kate had a large, red birthmark on her face that made her very self-conscious, and Thorne was hulking, unrefined, and his features were too harsh to be considered handsome by many. It was a nice change. You don't have to be conventionally attractive for someone to love you or view you as such, and this book was a great example of that. As for the characters themselves, I loved them! Although I did sometimes wanted to kick Thorne because he was so dang self-condemning and couldn't see how wonderful he was. Over the course of the story, I became so attached to them that I full-out cried when they got their Happily Ever After at the end.
All in all, A Lady by Midnight was utterly splendid and charming and absolutely a worthy addition to the Spindle Cove series. I immensely enjoyed Kate and Thorne's story, and I would recommend it to any lover of historicals who enjoys her romance with a side of mystery, smoldering chemistry, wit, and lots of laughter.
Kate realized she had a grave problem. She was infatuated. Or mildly insane. Probably both.
The mood went from black to some iridescent color only found in rainbows and seashells.
She was already suffering these fierce pangs of infatuation on the basis of his looks and strength alone. If he revealed a streak of sharp wit in the bargain, she might be in desperate straits.
Those words shivered through her bones like cello notes, each one settling to a low, arousing thrum at the base of her spine.
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