Apr 03, 12
Read in March, 2012
** spoiler alert **
This is the second full length book in Tessa's new Spindle Cove series and it is an absolutely phenomenal and amazing book! It is witty, funny, sweet, sexy, sensual, Colin and Minerva are wonderful, complex, fully-fleshed out characters, and Tessa brilliantly anchors all the funny mad cap hilarious moments with plenty of emotional depth and character development.
At the beginning, it seems Colin and Minerva couldn't be more different or ill-suited for each other. She's a bluestocking, geology/paleontogly enthusiast with her nose constantly in a book, and Colin is a carefree rake who's biding his time at Spindle Cove until he comes into his fortune and get out of dodge. They clash and trade barbs at every turn. But things come to a head when Minerva confronts him about rumors that he's planning to propose and marry her older sister Diana. Instead, she offers him a bargain. If he'll take her to a geology symposium in Edinburgh, she can present her findings, and she'll give the money, in exchange for his promise that he'll take the money and go, and leave Diana alone. And with that, they are both off on the adventure of a lifetime.
AWTBW wouldn't be a Tessa Dare book without plenty of humor and laugh out loud moments, and it has it in spades. Colin and Minerva meet various fellow travelers during their madcap journey to Edinburgh, and Colin amuses their traveling companions and himself by creating crazy stories and identities for himself and Minerva. The Ceylon and Crustacea stories had me cracking up as well as the "naughty math terms", but it was Colin calling Minerva an expert sword swallower after a memorable night together that had me howling and crying even as I'm thinking to myself "Oh no he DIDN't!!"
But AWTBW is about more than just a road trip, it's mostly about the figurative journey of self-discovery Colin and Minerva go through. Gradually, throughout the course of the book, the two of them break down the walls and facades between them, and come to a deeper and fuller understanding of who the other is. Tessa has Minerva make an astute observation that she and Colin are like the ammonite shells she embroidered on her wedding trousseau sheets. They are both so afraid of being vulnerable and rejected that they built walls around themselves, even though it keeps them in place and doesn't allow for growth.
Colin discovers that he can be more than just a carefree rakehell who's destined to ruin everything he touches and cares about. He has it in him to be a strong, mature, responsible man who can rise to expectations. Colin is haunted by his past (the scene when he reveals the real source of his insomnia and nightmares to Minerva is heart wrenching) and his seeming ability to constantly mess up. But with Minerva's help, he sees that it's most important that he learn to believe in himself, and that he is a kind, generous man, who deserves love and all good things.
Minerva comes to see that her spectacles, and unconventional pursuits and interests and quirks are strengths, and she needs to stop doubting and underestimating herself, and be proud of her abilities and accomplishments. The scene when she sings at the inn was a revelation as she starts to realize she doesn't need to hide, and perhaps, just perhaps, she is lovely, worthy, and talented in her own right. Naturally, Colin is all too happy to show her yes she can seduce and tempt a man-the right man! ;) Through it all, both Colin and Minerva desperately wanted someone who could love the real them, warts and scars and all, and the beauty of it is they found it in each other.
One of my favorite scenes has to be their wedding. After their madcap whirlwind love affair, proposal, and courtship, the way they finally get married is so perfect and so THEM. It was the perfect way to show how far the two of them had come and the love and commitment between the two of them. And Minerva paying homage to Lord and Lady Payne brought a tear to my eye.Her leap of faith in having Colin court and romance her the way he wanted instead of accepting his proposal at the symposium was lovely-she wanted to show Colin she wanted to marry him for love and all the right reasons, not just to get into the symposium and win the money.
What I love most about Tessa's books is her ability to blend humor, emotion, and real character change and growth. Her characters push past boundaries, and discover strength and inspiration in each other to be the best they can be. Colin and Minerva go from two people who bring out the worst in each other to two people, through love, trust, and understanding, who bring out the best in each other. And really, isn't that what romance is all about?
I really can't recommend this book highly enough. I firmly believe it's Tessa's best book to date, and I know she's just getting started. I absolutely can't wait for A Lady By Midnight!!! :)