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.
"No pressure," Payne said. "It's only your one chance at happiness, you know. It's only the rest of your life."
That's kind of what I'm feeling right now as I attempt to put into words what I enjoyed about A Lady by Midnight. And it seems fitting that Colin Sandhurst, Lord Payne, hero of A Week to be Wicked (my favorite thus far, though honestly, picking a favorite Tessa Dare book is like picking your favorite child.) is able to articulate my feelings better than I.
Kate Taylor isn't shy necessarily, but she keeps to herself despite thriving in the Spindle Cove lifestyle. She has no family and has suffered for the loss. She is looking for acceptance, longing for love, and is utterly surprised to find Corporal Samuel Thorne staring back at her.
His lips were so warm. And for all his cool, stony appearance, he tasted delicious and comforting. Like freshly baked bread, mixed with some faint memory of bitters by the pint. She had a vision of him earlier that day, drinking in a dimly lit tavern. Alone. The poignant solitude of that image made her want to hold him. She had to settle for clutching his coat lapels, nestling close to his chest.
She let her lips fall apart, the better to breath him in. He caught her top lip between his, then sipped at the lower. As though he craved a taste of her, too.
She's convinced he doesn't like her, that he's never liked her in all the time they've known each other. Thorne, of course, while bristling at this notion, cannot help how he feels about Kate.
"Of course I want you," he said roughly. "Every thought in my head is of you. Tasting you, touching you, taking you in ways your innocent mind can't even fathom. I don't know a cursed thing about art or music or Aristotle. My everything thought is crude and base and so far beneath you, it might as well be on the opposite side of the earth."
Imagine Kate's surprise when an entire family, the Grammercys, greets her upon her return one evening. Thorne is immediately suspicious, and that is where their engagement begins. Of course, the faux engagement turns into something much, much more.
They were on the same side.
The two of them, against the melons of the world.
All of Ms. Dare's books are enjoyable, but I have particularly enjoyed the Spindle Cove series. I do hope we're treated to Diana Hightower (and perhaps Evan Grammercy) in the upcoming Any Duchess Will Do.
(A very special thank you to Avon, Harper Collins and Edelweiss for providing me with an ARC of A Lady by Midnight.)