I am a sucker for heroes who think themselves unworthy of their heroine. Especially when they are the strong silent type. Colonel Samuel Thorne delivers all of this in spades. He is sexy. He is damaged. He is honorable. And he is completely and totally smitten by Spindle Cove's music teacher, Kate Taylor.
Of course, Kate has no idea that Thorne feels anything but disgust for her. He studiously avoids her, and Kate's low self esteem draws the absolute worst conclusions. After all, she has a birthmark on her face that people have stared at all of her life. She grew up in orphanage. No family. No love. She has made friends since moving to Spindle Cove, but no man has ever shown her any attention.
As the story begins, Kate is on a mission to learn about the family she never knew. She visits her old school-mistress out of town and the woman treats her cruelly. To make matters worse, she misses the coach back home and is nearly stuck on the streets for the night, until Thorne comes to her rescue and offers her a ride. It's in that journey back to town that everything changes between them.
Kate and Thorne share a memorable kiss during the ride back, waking her up to feelings she has never had before. Thorne wants her, but believes her too good for him. He comes from nothing. He has a criminal past and no breeding. And he is afraid that if he spends too much time with Kate, she will eventually remember their childhood together and the brothel where they grew up. He refuses to allow her to face such horrible memories.
In the meantime, a wealthy family arrives in Spindle Cove, claiming to be Kate's long lost family. Thorne questions their motives and claims to be Kate's fiance to protect her from whatever nefarious thing they may be planning. She is willing to go along with his plan --and from there, their fake engagement somehow becomes very, very real.
I liked Kate. She is very genuine and really only wants to know love. Not just romantic love, but any love. She thinks she is a throw-away and Thorne's attentions make her come alive. There were a few times I was surprised at how she put herself out there to him, despite his reticence. But I loved Thorne so much. I needed him to find some happiness and it was lovely watching Kate show him his worth.
Their path is rocky at times, but it is very rewarding. The writing is so good. Tessa Dare really put me inside her characters' heads and hearts. The pacing is great. The sexual tension is fabulous. And the characters are insanely easy to root for. This is really a good one.
Rating: A-*ARC provided by Avon