Kate Taylor may be an orphan, but she has created a nice life for herself. In Spindle Cove, she has friendship, acceptance and a decent career as a music teacher. Naturally cheerful and optimistic, Kate nonetheless longs to know where she came from. She just never expects Corporal Thorne to be the person to help her unravel her past. Imposing and implacable, Thorne has secrets of his own, but above all, he wants to ensure Kate’s happiness. When strangers show up in Spindle Cove, claiming to be Kate’s long-lost family, Thorne steps in to protect Kate by offering a false engagement. It isn’t long, however, before Kate and Thorne start re-evaluating everything they thought they knew about each other. Their false engagement just might become permanent.
A Lady By Midnight is the third full-length novel in Tessa Dare’s Spindle Cove series and, with each of her books, I fall in love with Dare a little bit more. She has a wonderful way of conveying so much emotion into such a few words and stirring up evocative images that relate directly to the characters themselves: “Those words shivered through her bones like cello notes, each one settling to a low, arousing thrum at the base of her spine. Dare imbues her characters and situations with true emotions, making them remarkably relatable, despite the Regency setting.
Above all else, A Lady By Midnight is Kate and Thorne’s story and it’s heartbreaking, hopeful and powerful all at once. Kate and Thorne are a literary demonstration of what it means to truly love. Throughout the novel, both willingly sacrifice for the other. Thorne learns to attempt things he would never normally do, while Kate finds herself willing to give up the things she thought she wanted, all because they embrace the idea that the other person is more important than themselves. Time and again, Kate and Thorne prove their love for one another through their actions. It’s really a remarkable depiction of true, selfless love with characters who are still very real and very flawed.
Kate has a strength and spirit that carries her through the rough times. Cheerful, determined and optimistic (which, I’ll be honest, I usually find annoying in heroines), Kate doesn’t wallow. Sure, she wants answers about her family, but she also works hard to create a life for herself. She embraces herself and her own past, long before she uncovers her history and ultimately, she’s strong and clever enough to make her own decisions. Thorne, meanwhile, is perfectly described by Aunt Marmoset as a spice drop: “overpowering and hard at first, but all sweetness at the center.” His steadfastness and devotion to Kate speak so much louder than any words ever could and I felt like cheering when he finally accepted his own worth.
“It’s all your fault.” His voice was rough with emotion. “You listened when I needed it. Laughed when I needed that. You wouldn’t go away, no matter how I scowled or raged. You loved me despite everything, and you made me look deep inside myself to find the strength to love you in return. I’m a different man because of you.”
Along with the customary wacky and well-developed secondary characters (in particular, the hilarious aforementioned Aunt Marmoset and the surprisingly progressive Harry), one particular aspect of A Lady By Midnight that fascinated me was Dare’s subtle exploration of post-traumatic stress disorder. Thorne’s rocky past, complete with jail time and years as a soldier, left an indelible mark on him and I thought Dare did a great job of realistically portraying a solider struggling to let go of battlefield memories. Coupled with the gradual unraveling of Kate’s memory and the things that trigger it, Dare manages to sneak some decidedly modern ideas into a historical novel.
A Lady By Midnight was supposed to by the final Spindle Cove novel. Thanks to their popularity – and, of course, Tessa Dare’s writing – a fourth novel is now in the works. Filled with heart, moments of levity and an all-encompassing example of true, unwavering love, A Lady By Midnight will have you cheering for Thorne and Kate as they finally get their happy ending. Don’t miss out on Tessa Dare’s latest novel.
I received an advanced copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
[Photo Credit: Goodreads]