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Spindle Cove #3

A Lady by Midnight

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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 fiancé. 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.

374 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published August 28, 2012

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About the author

Tessa Dare

49 books13.2k followers
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Tessa Dare is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of fourteen historical romance novels and five novellas. Her books have won numerous accolades, including Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® award (twice!) and the RT Book Reviews Seal of Excellence. Booklist magazine named her one of the “new stars of historical romance," and her books have been contracted for translation in more than a dozen languages.

A librarian by training and a booklover at heart, Tessa makes her home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband, their two children, and a trio of cosmic kitties.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,761 reviews
Profile Image for Anne.
3,922 reviews69.3k followers
May 27, 2018
2.5 stars

This is one of those that I didn't know bothered me...until I was done with it.
You know what I mean?
Like, I enjoyed it while I was reading it, but once it was over, I had all these complaints in my head.
It's not going down as a favorite, but this was fluffy enough to scratch my trashy romance itch. Even at (what I thought) was her worst, Tessa Dare still spins a readable yarn.
Plus, there was a cute puppy that helped push them together.


The love story between these two could have been so much better if there hadn't been so much unnecessary drama on Thorne's part. I'm not big on spoilers, but the mystery of their past was pretty evident from the get-go, and even if you don't exactly know specifics, it was easy enough to have a correct general guess. In other words, I probably don't need to tag this, but I will anyway.

So, ta-da!


Now, for the rest of the book, Thorne keeps pushing her away. Which, in the beginning, you can kind of understand. I mean, he doesn't want her to find out how their pasts intersected.
After a while, she finds out what happened, and he still keeps pushing her away, because he insists that he isn't good enough for her.
Are you...? What?!
How does that even make sense, crazy man?!
Thorne was the actual DEFINITION of good enough for her.

Ok, ok. I get that life had beaten him down as a kid, and he had some serious self-esteem issues. But by the end of the book, I was just fucking over his self-sacrificing shit.
She's crazy about you. Marry her, already!


There were also a few too many random things thrown into their path to keep them apart. Like his PTSD. It felt tacked-on, to me. And then at the end, that thing with her cousin!
And after that, he & Thorne had that ridiculous big fight over her honor? I know it was supposed to be this funny scene - what with all the pulling javelins off the wall, and pausing so Kate could hear her student sing a song in the ballroom - but (again) by the end, I was just over it. It started out like the intro to the Benny Hill Show...


And then ended on this laughably odd, pseudo-dark note.


Ok. Even having bitched and bitched about all of this stuff, I have to say it was still a decent book. I think the majority of my problems with it come from this: I like my heroes to have self-esteem.
Especially the ones who are born into a lower class than the women they are courting.
It feels cringy when I read about someone who can't seem to get over their feelings of inadequacy, especially when it's not deserved.
I guess I just like my trashy guys to be confident and comfortable in their skin.

Profile Image for Warda.
1,154 reviews18.5k followers
August 21, 2021
I don’t know why I initially gave this 3 stars. I enjoyed it so much more the second time round.

I know that reading a Tessa Dare book means I’ll always be in for a good time. A happy one too.

The Spindle Cove community is just too cute! A safe haven for ‘eccentric’ women? I want to be there! This is the perfect kind of found family.
Profile Image for Jilly.
1,838 reviews6,164 followers
January 7, 2017
Ugh! Shoot me if I ever lose enough self-respect to act like this girl!
We have Kate, the love-sick, desperate loser, and Thorne, the alpha-jerk who treats her like crap and continually tells her to go away. But, she won't listen. No. She is convinced that they belong together, so she throws herself at him over and over again. It's pathetic. Not romantic.

The only reason I gave two stars to this book is because Kate's family is awesome. There really needs to be an entire series based on these eccentric aristocrats themselves. I would totally read it. Unless Kate is there. She sucks so bad that she's pulling small planets into her personality.

Profile Image for Alp.
736 reviews374 followers
March 16, 2019
This was my ok read, neither good nor bad. Some parts of the story were wonderful, some parts bored me to tears, some parts nearly drove me insane, but other bits kept me patiently waiting in anticipation.

A Lady by Midnight had so much potential to be a great read because there was a brilliant plot idea. But alas, it didn’t deliver the way I expected it to be. The story moved so slowly, especially in the first half. There were too many filler scenes in which I had to skim through some pages. Thankfully, the remaining half of the book got better. It picked up its pace a bit and I found myself eagerly wanting to know what exactly happened between Thorne and Kate in their past.

What worked for me.

1. The plot idea. It was so intriguing.
2. Badger. It's a smart and brave pup who stole my heart since he first showed up in a scene.
3. The mystery of Kate’s childhood. It kept me wondering why Thorne lied to her, why kept this secret from her.

What didn't work for me.

1. The romance. It was a let down. I felt no chemistry between them. Thorne kept pushing Kate away while Kate kept chasing after Thorne. Nope. Not for me.
2. Kate. She was another character whom I couldn’t connect with. Besides, she did irritate me at times.
3. The slow pacing.

At somewhere around 70% of the book, I started to think about giving it 4 stars. But near the end when , I went crazy! Damn, it was unacceptable! One of my most important rules: NO PUSHING AWAY. And look what he did! I immediately reduced my rating to 3 stars. And that’s me being generous.

Perhaps Tessa Dare’s works and I are not destined for each other. Three books should be enough to prove this. So, it’s the right time for me to say goodbye to this author.


**Thank you for the buddy read, my lovely friends, Aileene and Jess.
July 1, 2016
Did someone say grumpy, brooding, sulking leading man?

Thorne was the worst best. While he was very passionate and I could tell he truly did love Kate, he was constantly pushing her away because he thought he was doing what was best for her. DUDE. SHE SAID SHE WANTS YOU FOREVER. DON'T TRY TO YOU STUPID ASSHAT! I didn't mind the pushing away at the start, but it became a little too much by the end of the book. I wish this had have been toned down just a little.

Kate. My little ray of sunshine and happiness. I really enjoyed her as a character. An eternal optimist even in the darkest of times, she was lovely. And the fact that she took care of Thorne when he was ill, even at the risk of ruining her reputation, was glorious. She also was strong willed enough to stand up to Thorne in his moments of woolheaded idiocy, and that made me smile.

I had butterflies while I was reading this, Thorne and Kate both had secrets and scars from their lives, and watching them tiptoe closer and closer to discovering everything about one another kept me on the edge of my seat with my heart in my throat.

Thorne, my love. You've inspired me to make a new shelf, it's called the man-pasture and it's where the broken men who can't stand to be restrained are located. Don't misunderstand me, you're still mine and you can't run away, but I am giving you space, unlike poor Raahosh who is shackled to the wall....

While I wish there was a little bit less off the drama-llama and pushing away, I loved Thorne and truly enjoyed this story, even if it was a bit of a rocky journey.

4 light-up-for-me Stars

Thanks for the buddy read action Aileene and Alp :)
Profile Image for Aileene.
243 reviews112 followers
July 7, 2016
And the buddy read saga continues...

Reading this MANstruating grumpy male on 27 June with my lovelies Jess and Alp


One of my best discoveries this past few weeks has been the Historical Romance and one of the best discoveries in this genre is Tessa Dare's Spindle Cove series, And A Lady By Midnight is, well, one good reason why I'm loving this genre more.

This is a sequel (of sorts) to A Week To Be Wicked.
This is the story of Kate Taylor and Samuel Thorne.

{Samuel} Thorne. The delicious MANstruating corporal of Spindle Cove who was very tough and rough, who perfected the art of glowering on his too ruggedly handsome face, but secretly loving Kate from afar.

Kate Taylor. Our heroine who grew up as an orphan, her positive attitude is unparalleled, tirelessly searches for her identity and roots as she yearns for a family to belong to.

Thorne is drawn to Kate with such a primal need it makes you believe there's a deeper connection rather than just the physical. His desire for Kate is a palpable.
Whilst Kate just thinks he's rude and very intimidating yet still she couldn't ignore his raw masculinity.

Thorne made Kate uncomfortable. Kate distracted Thorne.

My expectations?
Explosions of love.

Did it happen?
Because our sexy but very stubborn corporal, no matter how he made me imagine naughty images

“Good heavens. Some part of you is moving.”
“No, it’s not.” Thorne conducted a quick, silent assessment of his personal equipment.”

“His gaze never left her bodice, surveying. Strategizing. “I could rip them with my teeth.”

“Her belly met with the hard, pulsing ridge of his arousal.
My goodness.
Someone notify Lady Harriet. There was a monumental erection to be found in Wilmington, after all.”

Did you really think something else would load up? *grins*

Was shut entirely because of all the secrets he was keeping. Secrets that involve Kate and himself.

But our very buoyant heroine, Kate, who never fails to see the light at the end of the tunnel, didn't give up and persistently peeled Thorne's layers oh so slowly revealing his true feelings that gave this story short bursts of sexy times.
Did I like it? Hells bells YES!
I loved how it was rationed out to me. It kept my neurons in my brain firing sexy and naughty images in my head.

But as much as I loved it, I wanna kick Thorne's equipment no matter how monumental his man jewel can get when it's saluting Katie.
Why? Because, he just kept pushing Kate away, that's why.
Not just once, not just twice but many a time. The bastard even
This made Aileene annoyed. Aileene doesn't take rejection kindly. If more than one rejection happened, be prepared as Aileene will make sure you won't see the next daylight.
But if you were Momoa... WELL! Aileene will definitely sing a different tune.
Aileene doesn't know why she talks about herself in the third person but Aileene's having fun.

Anyways, we're deviating from the reason why I'm here - my review.
I really adored the characters. Kate and her spunk. Thorne and his stubbornness, though was too much at one point but he is what Katie wants so I wanted him for her.
The storyline is enjoyable. This is my second HR read so my experience is very measly but I can say it's quite different from what I expect from a historical romance.

Rating this 4 Grumpy-is-sexy Stars

By now, I think I'd even recommend a grocery list if it was written by Ms Dare.

Shout out to Ms Joanita for recommending this awesome series. I adore you, woman!
Profile Image for Jessica .
2,083 reviews13.3k followers
May 11, 2021
While I enjoyed the set up of this book and the beginning, it quickly turned dull and repetitive. Kate is a music teacher in Spindle Cove and she has never known her family or her parents. Then, a family shows up in town with a portrait of the mistress of their relative that looks exactly like Kate. In order to protect Kate, Samuel Thorne, the commander of the militia in Spindle Cove, decides to fake an engagement with her. While I initially enjoyed the interest and attraction between Kate and Samuel, I didn't really feel their connection for the rest of the book. I didn't get why Kate was so into Samuel or why she wanted to be with him. Then, the story was pretty boring. Book two in this series was SO GOOD and so much happened, but this one was just slow and boring. They don't really do a whole lot and they just sit around. The ending got dramatic, but I felt like that was tacked on to make the book longer after our couple decided to choose each other and be together. Overall, this was just an average romance that I wasn't completely in love with.
Profile Image for ♥Rachel♥.
1,857 reviews847 followers
October 10, 2015
Oh, I adored this installment! Stoic and taciturn Corporal Thorne had a mushy heart underneath it all! Katie was so sweet and strong! Of course, Tessa Dare’s writing was beautiful, clever and wickedly hot!

Favorite quotes:

She could feel each kiss’s imprint linger like a fiery brand on her skin. He was making her with stamps of his approval.
Her passion-swelled mouth…Wanted.
Her softly arching neck…Desired.
The sweep of her cheekbone…Lovely.
And last—the wine-splashed mark at her temple…Sweet.

“Remember what I told you,” Aunt Marmoset whispered. “Strong. Overwhelming at first. But with a bit of work, you arrive at the sweetness.”

“Whatever soul I had, Katie, I think I placed it in your keeping twenty years ago. And now, it’s as if…every time we kiss, you give a little place of it back.”

Profile Image for Sandra .
160 reviews371 followers
May 21, 2013

A Lady by Midnightx large

Love is composed of a single soul, inhabiting two bodies.

A Lady by Midnight is the 3rd book in the 'Spindle Cove' series. I have read the previous 2, and i absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them. They are amazing! Even though this book wasn't as good, it was pretty damn close!

I was a tiny bit hesitant to read this because i didn't really like the characters when i first met them in book 1, but now? I'm happy to say my opinion changed.

Meet the main characters!
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His embrace is all she's ever wanted.

Kate Taylor finds friendship and acceptance in Spindle Cove after years of fending for herself. She finds everything, accept love, that is.
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The very last place she'd look for it is in Carporal Thorn's unwelcoming arms. The militia commander is cold to the bones but brutally handsome at the same time. But when mysterious strangers come searching for Kate, Thorn steps in as her fiance. He claims to only have her safety in mind, so why is there smoldering passion in his kiss?

Long ago, Samuel Thorn devoted his life to guarding Kate's happiness. He wants what's best for her, and that's definitely not him. To outlast their temporary engagement, he must keep his hands off her and block out her warm smiles out of his empty heart. It's the toughest battle of this warriors life... one he's destined to loose.

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" You're like a gift," he said, his voice rough. "All wrapped up for someone else. A man can't look at you, but think of loosing those bows, one by one."

I think i would enjoy this book so much more if it wasn't for the main characters. They were seriously getting on my nerves most of the time.

Thorne was a very....cold character in the beginning. I really didn't like how he treated Kate, he kept on ignoring her and being rude. But he had his reasons, and i understood why he was the way he was. And even if he was sometimes a cold hearted asshole, you could still see the good in him. He is probably one of the most strongest characters i have read about. It's hard not to love him. I really liked how crude he was -
I'm not a smoothly spoken man. If i put my wants into words, i'd have you blushing so hard your frock would turn a deeper shade of pink."

What i didn't like was how he constantly kept thinking he wasn't good enough for Kate. Throughout the ENTIRE book he thought of himself as unworthy and as a result did things that just made me want to put my fist through a wall.
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"Am i causing you pain?" she asked.
"Always. Every time you're near."
She turned her face away to hide her wounded reaction. "I'm sorry."
"Not what i meant." He souded drunk. With his healthy hand, he nudged her jaw until she faced him. "You're too beautiful. It hurts."

Kate was a great character that i kinda loved. She had such a good heart! She was kind to everyone, even those who tried to bring her down. She was smart and funny.
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What i didn't like about her, and what was most annoying, was how hard she tried to make Thorne like her. She literally begged him for complements. Even when the man pushed her around like shit, she was still clinging to him like freaking glue. Ever heard of something called dignity, girl?

"Katie, i want you. I can't make it poetry. I can't make it sound anything other than crude, because it is. I want you in my bed. I want you under me, holding me. I want to bury my cock so deep inside of you."

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Wow. If that doesn't make you swoon, then i don't know what will! The sex scenes between Kate and Thorne were so passionate and hot, but also sweet and tender. Loved them! Especially naked Thorne *wink*

Overall,A Lady by Midnight was definitely not a disappointing read! It was funny, passionate and entertaining. A beautifully written Historical Romance that i recommend to anyone! I'm really looking forwards to reading book 4! :)

...."Whatever soul i had, Katie, i think i placed it in your keeping twenty years ago. And now, it's as if.... every time we kiss you give a little piece of it back."

Thanks Susanne for reading it with me! <3
Profile Image for Azet.
1,014 reviews221 followers
May 24, 2022
Now,i have finally read Thornes and Kates love-story,in this unforgettable,funny,enlighting and sexy romance novel "A Lady by Midnight".I got intruged by the hero and heroine already from the first time in "A Night to Surrender" as supporting characters,and i just longed for their story as i longed for Colins and Minervas.
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Kate Taylor was light and flowers,Samuel Thorne was dark and thunder,
together they matched completely.

Loved them,adored them.The scene where Thorne gave her the puppy was so ADORABLE.He always were her forgotten protector from child-hood,and he did everything for her not to remember him.He was a hardened man who had lived with brutality and blood all his life,and seeing Kate as a lady,he thought himself undeserving of her and that he was far below her.
Still Kate bewitched him and made him her slave with just one smile,small seduction,and he went weak for her.

Their passionate love was so beautiful,and the steamy scenes was...so HOT as i expected after their smothering hot sexual chemistry.The scene near the end when Thorne make Bram (hero in "A Night to Surrender") swear that he will not release him from the chains in the prison until Kate married Evan was just so hilarious i really laughed until i fell off my chair.Oh THORNE!!!!LOVE LOVE YOU!So adorable that he made Colin (hero from "A Week to be Wicked" teach him how to behave as a gentleman and dance,just so he could be deserving of Kate,when he so much despised Colin.That just made me melt.Ohhh..

Kate was a heroine with fire,with all the hardships and the abandoned feeling she always had,thinking that no one ever wanted her,and all the while bravely put on a smile just made me apload for her.She was a strong heroine with hope and so much love to give,and i just love the way she fighted for her man.He was so scarred and destroyed inside,he needed it.Love that we get to meet the former heroes and heroines from the other books,and i just love the epiluge...where we see the happy ever after future of theirs..!

He shook his head. “You’re dreaming. Or confused. Overwrought by the day, perhaps. You can’t mean to suggest you’d give up everything here. The Gramercys, the wealth, all your friendships.”

“To be with the man I love? Absolutely.”

“Don’t.” His arm whipped around her and he turned, pressing her against the wall. “Don’t say it. You can’t love me.”

“Are you doubting my sincerity? Or are you forbidding me to love you?”


He pinned her with a glare that was stern and fierce and ice-cold blue. So blue it made her heart sing. At last she knew why she’d carried that memory of blue in her heart.
It was him. It had always been him.

-Thorne and Kate
Profile Image for Sam (AMNReader).
1,263 reviews276 followers
January 22, 2018
Apparently I need more heroine tags. I really enjoyed Kate in this one. That said, it was a little bit of a miss for me...but only just. I enjoyed the terse and serious Thorne, Kate was a strong, patient, kind character. I really saw her warmth and dug how self-assured she was. Their relationship was great, as was the backstory (I'm a sucker for that)-but that's where my first hang-up is. I wish the enemies-to-lovers thing would've played out a little longer or had a bit more bite. It would've been nice to have it revealed to us a bit more slowly, especially since the sexual tension was great and lasted SOO long.

The length and pacing of the relationship is the main reason for the only just. I love that Dare did not make her hero some articulate charismatic man in love, she kept him at few words and Kate learned to interpret his actions.

The subplot of her heritage wasn't awful but it was incredibly overboard. That 25% or so of the book was where I got a bit impatient. I think this is what I'm referring to when I say the enemies-to-lovers could have had a bit more play. This had so much time and felt like it became an unnecessary distraction to the rest of the story and characters which felt quite strong. Unfortunately, that's why this is only a 3 despite featuring some of my favorite tropes and feeling light and funny with characters I liked.

Profile Image for S.
381 reviews91 followers
November 14, 2015
Buddy read with Sandra!


Kate realized she had a grave problem. She was infatuated. Or mildly insane. Possible both.

"That's a very intimidating scowl," she teased. "Do you practice that look in the mirror? I'll be you glare into the looking glass until it shatters."

She had been accustomed to thinking of Thorne as an enemy, but after that incident...
They were on the same side.
The two of them, against the melons of the world.

He looked up, pinning her gaze with his. "I know precisely what you need." The deep richness of his voice melted and spread over her skin.
"Then please." She tugged at his coat, trying to pull him closer. "Please."

Kate suddenly had the urge to call a temporary halt to this entire interlude and pay a hasty call on a few of her married friends. Then she'd return wiser, worldlier, and prepared with some kind of soothing poultice for afterwards.

The two halves of his being were at war - the half that wanted the best for her, against the half that simply wanted her.

What a fabulous book! Full review to come...
Profile Image for UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish.
1,166 reviews1,600 followers
November 20, 2015

A Lady by Midnight is such a wonderful story. Tessa Dare is so talented, so creative... her Spindle Cove stories are every bit as funny as they are poignant, and every bit as sexy as they are romantic!

I may write a longer review one day, but trust me on this - just read the series. If you're a fan of historical romance, if you love quirky but compelling characters... just read the series. It's quickly become a favorite, and I am excited to read more!
Profile Image for Alba Turunen.
661 reviews208 followers
May 31, 2022
3'5 Estrellitas. Me ha gustado la continuación de Cala Espinada, pero no me ha encantado. Quizás porque el último tercio del libro se me ha hecho algo largo e innecesario y pasan cosas que no hacía falta introducir.

Me alegro muchísimo de que Versátil le haya dado de nuevo la oportunidad a seguir publicando a Tessa Dare; pero me pregunto si no habría sido mejor publicar otra serie mejor de la autora o más reciente, en vez de seguir publicando una que lleva más de ocho años parada.

"Una dama a medianoche" es el tercer libro de la serie Cala Espinada de Tessa Dare. Un pueblecito de la costa sur de Inglaterra donde en su mayoría viven mujeres, y es un lugar de descanso y retiro para señoritas que han vivido el escarnio o que necesitan refinamiento para acudir a la alta sociedad.

Kate Taylor es la profesora de canto y piano de Cala Espinada, pero la vida de Kate ha sido un misterio hasta para ella misma. Desde muy pequeñita entró en un colegio para huérfanas y nunca ha sabido quién es su familia. La obsesión de Kate es encontrar a su familia, descubrir quiénes eran, qué les pasó y por qué la abandonaron.

El cabo Thorne es un militar serio y adusto que ha causado pocas o ningunas simpatías entre las señoritas de Cala Espinada. Al menos eso es lo que le parece a Kate. Ésta no entiende por qué el siempre ha sido tan serio o antipático con ella; pero todo empieza a cambiar cuando Kate está en serios apuros y Thorne la "salve".

Todo en la vida de Kate cambiará cuando unos misteriosos desconocidos se alojen en Cala Espinada a pasar el verano y cuenten una historia sobre los orígenes de ella.

En realidad el libro ha estado bien, es divertido, los personajes emocionan, pero me ha resultado uno más del montón.

Como he dicho arriba, lo que le ha bajado puntos es el último tercio; los capítulos finales ha embrollado la trama de tal manera que no hacía necesario pasar por todo ello o meter drama innecesario.

Pero en el fondo ha estado bien y entretiene para pasar el rato. Espero que Versátil decida continuar con la serie, ya que han dado éste paso y terminarla.
Profile Image for April (Aprilius Maximus).
1,093 reviews6,577 followers
June 21, 2020
1.) A Night To Surrender ★★★★
*.) Once Upon A Winter's Eve ★★★
2.) A Week To Be Wicked ★★★★
3.) A Lady By Midnight ★★★★
*.) Beauty and the Blacksmith ★★★★
4.) Any Duchess Will Do ★★★★
*.) Lord Dashwood Missed Out ★★★.5
5.) Do You Want to Start A Scandal? ★★★★.5


“Kate realized she had a grave problem. She was infatuated. Or mildly insane. Possibly both.”

trigger warnings: PTSD, death of a parent (in the past), snakes and snake bites, incarceration, childhood trauma.

representation: f/f side relationship, birthmark on face, PTSD.

✨fake dating
✨brooding love interest
✨found family
✨it's by the one and only, historical romance QUEEN, Tessa Dare

that's all you need to know.
Profile Image for Melanie A..
1,065 reviews395 followers
July 27, 2019
Audio: 4 STARS
Story: 3 STARS
"I don't know that I can give you the tenderness you deserve."
~Sigh~ This should have been a slam dunk for me. All the elements were there . . .
✔ an author whose work I adore
✔ a brooding, working-class hero
✔ a smart heroine
✔ tragic backstories
. . . but it just didn't come together in a way that made sense to me.

I think the biggest problem was that the author did an amazing job of convincing me that Thorne was no good for Kate - in short, she succeeded, lol. And what was with the building of so much intimacy with Evan? ~Even bigger sigh~ Moving on to book 4.
Profile Image for Daniella.
256 reviews529 followers
July 21, 2015
Again, I find myself in the very awkward position of having the unpopular opinion about a widely loved novel. Again, I find myself asking, "Is it me? Am I just too unforgiving or too critical?" To give myself credit, I did try to read A Lady by Midnight out of loyalty. But alas, it was just so bad I had to stop by the first hundred pages.

I have three main issues with the novel:

First, the heroine, Kate, was too anachronistic and inconsistent. I don't normally give too much importance on historical accuracy. I'm quite lenient and forgiving with the dialogues and storytelling in a historical romance novel, not really minding if they tend to be too modern at times. But I do have my limits; I know when to raise my eyebrow when the character's actions become too ridiculous for the time set.

And Kate's actions were exactly that--ridiculously anachronistic. For instance, Kate actually said the following snarky comments about Thorne in public:
“I hope you don’t take Thorne’s crude manners to heart, Miss Taylor.”
“Who, me?” She forced a little laugh. “Oh, I’m more sensible than that. Why should I take to heart the words of a heartless man?” She ran a fingertip around the teacup’s rim, thoughtful. “But kindly do me a favor, Mr. Fosbury.”
“Whatever you ask, Miss Taylor.”
“The next time I’m tempted to extend an olive branch of friendship to Corporal Thorne . . . ?” She arched one brow and gave him a playful smile. “Remind me to whack him over the head with it instead.


The setting is 1814, the Regency era, and I'd bet a great deal of money that talking like that--about a Corporal, no less!--at public was simply not done. Um, correct me if I'm wrong but didn't they have rules of propriety back then?

Another issue about Kate is her inconsistency in character. Early on in the novel, she established herself as a very optimistic and resourceful woman, but her actions and thoughts said otherwise.
Her worst fears had been realized. She was alone. Not just tonight, but forever. Her own relations had abandoned her years ago. No one wanted her now. She would die alone. Living in some cramped pensioner’s apartment like Miss Paringham’s, drinking thrice-washed tea and chewing on her own bitterness.

Wow. A ball of sunshine, this girl. And oh, don't let me get started with her snarky comments.
And when she lifted her head, she was guaranteed to find a friendly face, unless . . .
“Miss Taylor?”
Unless it was him.
“Corporal Thorne,” she whispered.
On another day, Kate could have laughed at the irony. Of all the men to come to her rescue, it would be this one.

Um, girl, the man just saved you from getting whipped and this is how you repay him??? What is wrong with you?

Second, some of the scenes or events were over-the-top and illogical, with no proper buildup. I'm talking about the events that transpired in Chapter 2, where Miss Paringham, Kate's old schoolmistress in the orphanage, actually beat her with a cane out of spite.

Yeah. You read that right. The old woman caned her. And for what, you ask?
“You never liked me,” Kate whispered. “I knew it. You always made it clear, in small, unspoken ways, that any kindness you showed me was begrudged.”
Very well. You are correct. I never liked you.
“May I ask on what basis was I so reviled? I was appropriately grateful for every small thing I was given. I didn’t cause mischief. I never complained. I minded my lessons and earned high marks.”
“Precisely. You showed no humility. You behaved as though you had as much claim to joy as any other girl at Margate. Always singing. Always smiling.”
The idea was so absurd, Kate couldn’t help but laugh. “You disliked me because I smiled too much? Should I have been melancholy and brooding?”

I don't know about you, but having an illogical dislike at a person is not a legitimate excuse for violence. Ugh. This seemed to be the writer's pathetic effort to evoke some sympathy from us. In my case, at least, that failed miserably, and made things look ridiculous and too blown out of proportion.

In the same chapter as well, Kate nearly gets whipped by an irate cart driver who got irritated at her for disturbing his horse. Okay, I get it, he was mad, but hello, this was the Regency, and I highly doubt that whipping a lady in the streets account for a normal action. Again with the anachronism. Sigh.

Third, the writing was just too horrible. This was actually the deal breaker, for me. I could have stomached the first two issues had it not been for the writing. I was shocked, actually. It's been a long time since I read her one of her books, but I remembered liking them. What happened? Did she change? Or did I?

But then again, I read her way before I read the works of Lorraine Heath, Elizabeth Hoyt, Lisa Kleypas and Amanda Quick. Maybe my standards changed. I don't know what happened, but I find myself unable to stomach such storytelling. There were too many simple sentences, with no proper transitioning. The characters' thoughts were too disjointed to create a proper image. Unnecessary breaks between thoughts were too abundant. For example:
Chilling, those words. But effective. The cart swiftly rolled away.

She burst into tears. Right there in the street, for God’s sake. Her lovely face screwed up. She bent forward until her forehead met his chest, and then she heaved a loud, wrenching sob.
Then a second. And a third.

That's not really my idea of a smooth narration.

I'm sorry, but I have to add this to my DNF list. Others may have liked it, but for reasons stated above, I just can't do so. I certainly don't recommend this.
Profile Image for Pepa.
938 reviews237 followers
April 15, 2022
Reseña completa: https://masromance.blogspot.com/2022/...
Muchas ganas de retomar esta serie, leí los dos primeros con la anterior editorial y he leído en inglés alguno de sus novelas cortas.
Tessa Dare es una autora que me gusta, creo que suele combinar bastante bien romance con un toque picante.
Quizás en esta entrega se echa un poco en falta la construcción de una relación de la que ya tenemos constancia. No resta que sea una historia bonita entre dos personas con un pasado duro. Creo que la autora lo podía haber hecho un poco mejor, aún así, me ha gustado y he disfrutado mucho de la lectura.
Aplaudo a la editorial, está haciendo un buen trabajo, excelente, de las pocas que oyen a sus lectoras. Por eso, aunque sean historias que ya haya leído, sigo comprando los libros que están traduciendo
Profile Image for Zain Otoom.
130 reviews187 followers
September 1, 2017
Again, incredibly ridiculous, cheesy and over dramatic. But this one was surprisingly sweet, and I enjoyed the sweetness it offered.
Profile Image for Lady Wesley.
927 reviews320 followers
October 23, 2021
In the first two delightful volumes of this series, Tessa Dare introduced us to Spindle Cove, a Sussex coastal hamlet run by an extraordinary group of females. Women who don’t quite fit in to genteel society – spinsters, bluestockings, abandoned wives, and even the odd promiscuous young miss – find a haven among the denizens of the Queen’s Ruby rooming house.

Miss Kate Taylor has found a comfortable life there teaching music to the visiting young ladies. Their cozy retreat was disturbed a year ago, however, when several of the King’s soldiers arrived to organize a militia to protect Spindle Cove from invasion by Napoleon. And for Miss Taylor, no man was more disturbing than the large, dark, taciturn Corporal Thorne. Although he pointedly ignored her, his very presence made her skin prickle, and her efforts to be friendly were invariably rewarded by his finding some excuse to leave her company.

Kate is a orphan, a foundling educated at the forbidding Margate school, who has never attracted the notice of any man. Although she is relentlessly cheerful and chatty, she is self-conscious about a port wine birthmark on her temple and believes that Thorne is repelled by it and her. One day, however, when she finds herself stranded in nearby Hastings without sufficient funds to return to Spindle Cove, Corporal Thorne comes to her rescue. On the way home, they share a passionate kiss, and Kate discovers that Thorne harbors a deep attraction to her, along with a surprisingly fiery protectiveness. When they arrive in Spindle Cove and find a decidedly odd family of aristocrats waiting to meet Kate, Thorne is immediately suspicious. When this family declares that Kate may be a long-lost illegitimate cousin, Thorne decides she needs protection from these strange strangers and declares himself to be her fiancé.

Kate goes along with Thorne’s deception, agreeing with him that if she is indeed taken into the Gramercy family she can break the betrothal and Thorne can follow his plans to leave the army and move to America. There are many more secrets to be revealed, however, about not only Kate’s past but also Corporal Thorne’s. (Some of the early reviews, I think, give too much away, so perhaps should be avoided.) Kate finds herself falling in love with the handsome, forbidding Thorne, and Thorne finds it hard to resist her tempting charms.

Along the way, we are treated to visits by Bram and Susanna (from A Night to Surrender) and Colin and Minerva (from A Week to Be Wicked). Their stories were fun and filled with humor, but A Lady by Midnight is much more somber and touching. Still, Dare fills the story with good humor and her usual collection of entertaining secondary characters, a disastrous ball, and a farcical duel. I can’t wait to return to Spindle Cove, but how will I bear to wait until 2013 for Any Duchess Will Do?

One final note: although this books works well as a stand alone, I think that for maximum enjoyment the series really should be read in order.

Heartfelt thanks to Avon and Edelweiss for giving me the opportunity to read an ARC of this highly recommended story.
Profile Image for Heather.
319 reviews288 followers
May 19, 2017
3.5 stars

I was basically here for Thorne!
And yes ok maybe a little because his name is Thorne and I'm Lunar Chronicles trash

What I Liked

Corporal Thorne has played supporting roles in the first two books in this series and I will be honest … when I heard about this quiet brooding imposing figure, I immediately sifted through the Spindle Cove series book descriptions to see how far I would have to read till I could see more of him (a LOT more if you know what I mean *wink*). Tessa Dare did not disappoint!

This story was probably the most emotional of the series yet. Both Kate and Thorne have struggled to find their place, their worth in the world. Pretty early on, we get the sense that Kate and Thorne have more than just similar pasts, but maybe even pasts that twist and tangle and intertwine. Pasts that hide pain and hurt and loss. Walls have to be broken, barriers torn down … and along the way there are hurt feelings, kept secrets, and a lot of tension.

Kate is a very likeable heroine who exudes strength and thankfulness. She is a steadfast friend and she faces the world with an always positive attitude. Although she struggles with her place in the world and has no family she can remember, she doesn't let her past define her. These are qualities that I love to see in people and in characters! She is able to be a safe place for Thorne who struggles internally with his own tragic past.

There is also sex (which ok I'm 100% here for that too). Yeah, there are some pretty heavy and beautiful (sometimes cliché) sex scenes in this book, but the true intimacy comes from the emotional journey that these two take with each other. This is the true beauty of Kate and Throne’s romantic development!

The writing is exactly the quality that I have come to expect from Tessa Dare, as well as the character development of not just our hero and heroine, but of supporting characters as well.

What I Did Not Like

Like with a few other books in this series, I felt as though the natural ending of the story came to a close about 100 pages before the actual ending of the book. Like riding a roller coaster of exciting ups and downs that finishes with a 20 minute slow ride on a straight track before finally landing at the platform. So I will admit … I skim read pretty much the entire ending of this book.

At around the 60% mark, Dare basically introduced a whole new storyline into the mix which, I felt, was not melded as well as it could have been into the narrative. I feel like either the inclusion of the new characters and plotline should have been introduced earlier, or perhaps this last bit simply condensed. The plot twists felt a little too melodramatic when paired with the first 60% of the story that I loved. Don't get me wrong, I think that these twists should have been included, but again ... maybe in a more simplistic manner?

In Conclusion

If this book had condensed the last 40% of the story a significant amount, this book would have been a 5 star read for me! Unfortunately it dragged significantly toward the end. All in all, an enjoyable story of a beautiful and emotional romance and another great addition to Tessa Dare’s Spindle Cove series!

Read this review and other on my blog
A Thousand Lives of Frankie Lovely
Profile Image for Samantha.
226 reviews64 followers
September 24, 2022

2½ stars.

➕ What I liked :

The dog.

Working-class hero.

Not “perfect” main characters. (heroine has a port-wine stain/birthmark)

Some parts were amusing.

➖ What I disliked:

The hero had too much self-castigation, self-condemnation and was too self-sacrificing.

The heroine was kind of inconsistent in her character.

Interesting with the port-wine stain (birthmark)…. But it would have been more interesting if the birthmark ( port-wine stain) was more prominent on the heroine …. like 1/3 of her face or something…. Not “just” a little one on her temple.

Feels rushed and underdeveloped.
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,608 reviews1,481 followers
October 9, 2014
Oh Captain, my Captain…well I guess Thorne is a corporal but that is close enough for me. He is a hard and sturdy man who seems to have a little soft spot for Kate, not that she would ever know it as he has kept his distance for both their own good. Thorne seems to know something of Kate’s past and wants to keep if hidden from her as the truth might hurt more than not knowing.

Kate has always noticed Corporal Thorne and she had heard many tales of his exploits with women but she has always assumed his indifference to her was because of the heart shaped port birthmark on her temple. Little could she know that he is holding a key to her past. They are thrown together in unexpectedly when a group of people come to town believing she is their long lost relation. As they spend more time closely together everything starts to unravel and the secrets of the past will not stay at bay forever. Kate must decide what she wants more, the family she has always longed for or a love she never knew existed.

‘Love is composed of a single soul, inhabiting two bodies.’ ” He took her by the shoulders, drawing her close. “It rang true for me, in a way nothing else did. Whatever soul I had, Katie, I think I placed it in your keeping twenty years ago. And now, it’s as if . . . every time we kiss, you give a little piece of it back.”

I like Kate, she is stubborn and headstrong but also very loving and tender. I felt very sympathetic to her from the beginning as she had such humble beginnings and was an orphan. If anyone was going to break through that hard shell around Thorne it was her. Thorne is very likable even though he tries to put on a tough exterior he is very broken inside from his past and all of his actions are what he believes to be in the best interest of Kate

Tessa Dare novels are usually fun and flirty with just enough angst to make it interesting but not over the top. I really like the way the two of them gradually came together and the bond they were able to create. I also enjoyed how their past played a role and how.

Sometimes side characters are what make a novel as well and I do have to say the marquess, his sisters and aunt were fun additions. Harry cracked me up with her unusual manners for a woman of means, Lark with her complete obliviousness to anything dubious and Aunt Marmoset with her wicked tongue.

“Well, that’s a lovely view for a picnic,” Aunt Marmoset said, joining them. “I do enjoy gazing upon a well-carved man.”
“He’s called ‘the Long Man of Wilmington,’ Aunt Marmoset.” Lark scribbled in her journal.
“How odd. I’d been under the impression his name was Corporal Thorne.” Aunt Marmoset came and put her hand in Kate’s pocket. “My dear, hold onto that one. Tightly, and with all four limbs.”
Kate blushed. “I don’t know what you mean.”
“Yes, you do. We have similar tastes.” The old lady withdrew her hand, leaving Kate’s pocket oddly heavier—full of spice drops, she assumed. “Remember what I told you,” Aunt Marmoset whispered. “Strong. Overwhelming at first. But with a bit of work, you arrive at the sweetness.”

What I have learned from reading novels set in Spindle Cove is that anytime there is a ball something eventful is going to happen, they do seem to be cursed. I really did enjoy the characters of this novel and the very cute ending to their story.

Solid Fluffy Happy Day Historical Romance.
Profile Image for Christy Hall.
261 reviews57 followers
July 30, 2022
I started reading A Lady by Midnight and then quickly realized I’ve read it before. I could have stopped reading it and just moved on, but it was cute, funny and endearing. I kept reading and remembered all the places I liked. Silly moments that throw the heroine and hero into each other’s lives. Kate is the local music teacher, an orphan who knows nothing of her past. Corporal Thorne is aptly named - he’s thorny towards Kate and she has no idea why. As new people come to town, Kate is faced with learning more about her mysterious past while she and Thorne are thrown more together. It’s sweet to see their relationship develop. Some aspects to certain characters are a bit anachronistic and the end devolves into absurdity. However, it is a good and entertaining read.
Profile Image for KatLynne.
547 reviews559 followers
October 6, 2013
Growing up an orphan, Kate’s greatest desire was to have a family. The mystery surrounding her birth and childhood had me quickly turning each page along with the sexy Corporal Thorne. He’s all closed up keeping secrets himself and struggling to keep his distance from Kate. Thorne is one of those raw, masculine men that women can’t help but notice and I loved Kate’s boldness in bringing them together.

Tessa Dare’s Spindle Cove stories have become one of my favorite series. Each book offers a hero and heroine you can’t help but adore and the writing is totally engaging. The humor along with the witty dialogue mixes perfectly with the romance making each book a winner.
Profile Image for Lisa Kay.
924 reviews515 followers
October 6, 2017
Quote from “A Lady by Midnight,” by Tessa Dare

★★★★½ (This is a review of the audiobook.) Nicely read by Carolyn Morris. The men sound like men and the women like women, all with their own distinguishing voice. Accents are good, as well as inflections. Good pacing.

I’ll admit that I’m reading my way though this series in order to get to book #5. However, I thought I would have to trudge through one or two of the books - and instead find I am quite enjoying the journey, as TD is an excellent writer. Lovely story, this one. A very tender love story, thus different from book #2, which has been my favorite thus far. Even though this installment is more tender, the characters are strong, if the heroine is a bit consistently optimistic. I was in the mood for optimism, so hers worked for me.

I like that I really, really thought the book was going to go one way - on more than one occasion - and it didn’t. Plus, there is a wonderful epilogue - years in the future! Yay!
Profile Image for Jacob Proffitt.
2,943 reviews1,555 followers
December 12, 2016
Well, that wasn't a complete waste of time. Quite. But it was a near-run thing. Kate was nice and her background was interesting and Dare managed to drip it out just shy of insufferably coy so that all worked. It really is a shame that Thorne is one of the worst romantic heroes to ever get his brood on. Talk about one-note wonder. Dare beat that self-hatred horse so hard she had to file environmental impact papers. Making that the sum and total of his motivation was a mistake. Having him .

I probably wouldn't have made it all the way through, but then the Gramercys showed up and they were kind of a hoot. A family of titled misfits who really seem to care about Kate was an unexpected delight. So I stuck it out. Thorne still dragged it down enough that I skimmed entire chapters, but at least we had some fun family hijinks and Kate got some resolution to old pain.

I enjoyed the Kate storyline enough that I was edging towards three stars. But then Dare threw in a couple winks to modern audiences that threw me completely out of the story. After explaining my frustration with one, though, Melissa found it funny. So I'm probably oversensitive because by that time I just wanted to be done. So anyway, stupid self-hate-man gets two stars for dragging down a story that could have done with a lot less of him.

A note about Steamy: Two explicit sex scenes, one monster-long and the other pretty brief. But then, I was skimming by the second one, so maybe it only seemed brief? At any rate, the middle of my steam tolerance. And how sad is it that I was skimming a freaking sex scene? If that isn't clear sign I'm struggling to care about the romantic lead I don't now what is...
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