A Lady by Midnight by Tessa Dare
When I read the first novel in the Spindle Cove series, A Night to Surrender, I immediately knew Thorne was my kind of hero, and that the heroine for him would be Kate, and that theirs would be the story I would like. I was not wrong – I loved it.
This has a lot to do with tropes: I like my war-hardened, protective heroes. I like imperfect heroines – well, Kate’s only flaw is a very visible and fairly unattractive blotchy red birthmark on her face, but still. Physical imperfection is always nice in romance.
I just absolutely fell in love with Thorne. As early as page 20, we see him exhibit protective instincts, from his own point of view, and boy, is it sweet! For the previous books, he and Kate have been at odds (and yet, curiosity of curiosities, he seems to always be hovering somewhere at the edge of her life) and the general understanding is that they do not like each other. On Kate’s side this is true, but in this novel we find out that Thorne has indeed been in love with her for a long time – much longer than the readers have had any idea.
The main conflict of this novel arises from Kate’s past. An orphan, she has no memory of her childhood apart from a few words, the colour blue, and a song. She’s desperate to find out who she is and where she comes from, and the mystery deepens when Dare drops the first hint that Thorne knows all this. To complicate matters, a bunch of (fairly eccentric) nobles arrive to Spindle Cove, claiming that Kate is their half sister. The mystery is surprisingly delicious and keeps you on your toes.
You will by now have noted that although I loved this book, and, I will add, to the point that I want my own copy, I have only given it four stars. It is so very nearly a five-star book and the BAM I’m expecting from Dare was it not for the ending. I don’t buy it. It’s a bit too over the top, too absurd to be believable. I will admit that there aren’t many options by that point to bring the book to an end that would be satisfying in terms of romance, but I would have liked something more elegant.
Nevertheless, A Lady by Midnight is my favourite of the Spindle Cove series. The characters are adorable and make a lovely couple, and, what is very refreshing, it is Kate who does most of the pursuing and seducing. And Thorne, who turns into somewhat grudging putty when it comes to her, is helpless to resist. There is also Thorne’s PTSD, which could definitely have been explored more from a psychological point of view instead of being reduced to a convenient tool – not that that hasn’t been done before in romance. But balancing different aspects while keeping the novel a romance novel – which by definition must concentrate on the courtship of one or more couples – is very difficult. I just had higher expectations of Dare’s ability to do so.
I’ll stop before I draw too much attention to the minor things I didn’t like. The fact remains that I’m absolutely enamoured by this book, Thorne is possibly my new favourite romance hero of all, and that at one point reading became very slow because I had to stop to squee and coo every so often.