Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Series or Standalone: Spindle Cove #3
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
In A Lady By Midnight, we get Kate Taylor and Corporal Thorne’s story. While I enjoy these characters, this story is my least favorite from Tessa Dare’s Spindle Cove series. This was a reread for me, and this is the one book in the series I’ve never felt a strong desire to reread. I feel like the romance is missing that special spark between the two characters that I’m looking for in a historical romance and don’t find myself drawn to go back to this one frequently.
Kate Taylor has found a home in Spindle Cove. As an orphan, she’s always longed to find love and family. As Spindle Cove’s music teacher, she’s found friendship but is still searching for her love and family. When she goes searching for answers and gets stuck without a coach ride home, the last person she expects to help her out is Corporal Thorne. Thorne has always been incredibly cold and rude to Kate, and their relationship is anything but friendly. However, when he helps her back to Spindle Cove and they find the Gramercys claiming to be Kate’s long-lost family, Thorne pretends to be her fiancé. Thorne does it to protect her as secrets from his past could reveal who Kate really is.
I feel like this book’s romance should work for me as I love a fake dating/fake engagement trope and enemies-to-lovers. Enemies might be a strong word. Over the last two books in Spindle Cove, we’ve seen Kate and Thorne’s interactions and they definitely buttheads and don’t get along. We also get nursing back to health trope woven in as well. Despite all these A+ tropes, the romance in this book feels a bit flat. The biggest thing is I didn’t feel like Kate and Thorne actually like each other all that much, even when they claimed they did. The chemistry fell flat for me. The romance was missing the spark and heat.
As an aside on the romance, there were a few times when the phrase “I burn for you” was used. Obviously, this book was published way before the Bridgerton Netflix show came out, but Regé-Jean Page’s now iconic delivery of that line was all I could think about.
Kate and Thorne are also the two weakest main characters in the Spindle Cove series from my perspective. I struggled with understanding both their motivations at different points. I understand Kate’s desire to want a family and be loved and accepted for who she is. However, I feel like she came across as a bit naive a few times by her willingness to buy into everything the Gramercy’s told her. Also, I didn’t appreciate her taking Thorne’s dog from him in the beginning! Thorne is a bit of a hard one to get a read on at first. He’s got a lot of secrets from his past that he hasn’t told anyone. You don’t even learn his first name until way late in the book. My struggle with him is protective nature. While it’s admirable to want to protect Kate from hurt, he sometimes takes it a bit too far. He knows secrets about her past that he could have told her earlier, but doesn’t until he’s forced to. His protective nature also makes him think he knows Kate’s mind better than she does, which always rubs me the wrong way in romances. It’s a trait I strongly dislike in male main characters.
Once again, the secondary characters in this are a treat. Not only do we get to see some familiar Spindle Cove faces, including Susanna, Bram, Minerva and Colin, but Dare introduces us to the Gramercys. What a fun group they are! We have Harry, a pants-wearing lesbian, Aunt Marmorset with her spice drops, Lord Drewe and his five duels, and happy-go-lucky Lark. Despite being part of the nobility, the Gramercys are anything but proper. I loved that they were willing to welcome Kate into their fold so quickly and easily. Honestly, they’re the kind of family you’d love to be welcomed in by if you didn’t have one. I think they really brought a lot of levity to the story. Despite some of their flaws (I’m looking at you Lord Drewe and your clear anger management issues), they’re so incredibly likable.
In terms of the plot, this one isn’t my favorite. I have a few issues with how the ending plays out and I’d like to blame that on the actions of the men. I also don’t know why Kate decided to go along with Thorne’s plan at the end when she didn’t have to? Her choices made no sense to me until she finally decides to take matters into her own hands at the last second. The characters make some choices that just don’t sit with me right throughout the novel.
While I’m a major fan of the Spindle Cover series, this is the one book I frequently find myself skipping out on during rereads. However, I know so many people love this book, but it’s just missing that special something in the romance for me. I know Tessa Dare can deliver on the emotions so it’s always a bit of a letdown for me that this one falls short.
I’d still recommend picking this up if you’re reading the full series! Maybe just grab it from the library though in case you have similar feelings towards this.