Plot (from avonromance.com)
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.
Things I Loved
Kate, like Susanna and Minerva, is pretty rad. She’s a bit of a Jane Eyre, in that she was orphaned and raised at a really depressing girls’ school. She’s worked hard to make a respectable life for herself, however. She seems like she’d make an excellent friend.
I love Thorne, who’s full of self-loathing and trying so hard to be a good man. His idea of what makes a good man and the actual reality of being a good man doesn’t match up, but I love how darn hard he tries to be worthy of Kate.
I also love the fake engagement between Kate and Thorne, which obviously turns pretty real after a bit. And her lesbian cousin, who shows up when a slightly infamous noble family shows up claiming kinship. And Badger, the dog! Dogs make everything better.
Kate’s feelings about the port wine stain on her face aren’t consistent. She’s insecure about it when the plot calls for it (thinking herself marked as a child of shame, thinking Thorne is a jerk to her because he finds it repulsive), but it doesn’t come up otherwise.
Also, the backstory between Kate and Thorne was just a little too improbable for me to buy it. Not to mention Thorne’s complete turnaround after being transferred to Bram’s command in France. I love a little (or, let’s be real, a lot of) WTF-ery in my romance, but I want that drizzled on top of a solid foundation.
The weakness of the female friendships was most obvious here, as Kate suddenly turns to Minerva and Susanna as her BFFs despite the fact that there was nothing in any of the books in the series to make that realistic.
Overall, it was fun but not the strongest in the series.
3/4 chili peppers (1 being a step above a sex-free gentle romance, 4 being an all-sex-and-no-plot romance). Proceed with caution if you’re more Georgette Heyer than Ellora’s Cave.