A Week to be Wicked, so I figured I'd give Dare's next novel in the series a try: A Lady by Midnight (2012). I'd already been introduced to the main characters in the previous novel. Kate Taylor is an orphan of unknown origins, raised in a strict school for ladies. Having been educated in the art of music at school, Kate earns a respectable living teaching music to students at Spindle Cove. Corporal Thorne has had more than a tough childhood himself as well as some time spent in jail, but he's turned himself into a respectable and courageous military officer stationed at Spindle Cove.
Kate is very alone in the world with little prospects for marriage. Although she lives a comfortable life and likes teaching music, she yearns for a family. She's noticed Corporal Thorne since he moved to Spindle Cove the year before, but he is always standoffish and rude to her. However, when she is stranded in town and Corporal Thorne comes to her aid--with a puppy!--things heat up.
At the same time, the Grammercy's, an eccentric, but very rich family come to town and claim that Kate is her family. Kate is excited but Corporal Thorne is suspicious and they enter into an engagement in order for him to be in a better position to protect her.(?) I guess there is a little mystery surrounding Kate's past, but it is not a large part of the story. What follows primarily is a push and pull between Kate and Corporal Thorne. She likes him. Yet even though he makes out with her every chance he gets, he's decided that he's incapable of love and unworthy of loving Kate.
Unfortunately, this is not one of my favorites. I much preferred A Week to be Wicked, which also had a ludicrous plot but was more fun to read. I liked Kate and thought she was a fun heroine, and I was a great fan of the puppy. However, Corporal Thorne is not my go-to hero. He's so dark and brooding and he never acts like he actually likes Kate--except maybe for giving her the puppy, but that felt more like passive aggressive acquiescence than a well-meaning gift. I think I've figured out with this book that reluctant heroes are not my thing. It is just not sexy or romantic to be rebuffed and denied. Kate put her heart out there time and again and got nothing in return. When he finally gives in, I couldn't understand what was different.
Usually I start reading a romance novel and I don't put it down, but this one held very little urgency for me. It took me forever to read the last fifty pages. And instead of finding Thorne's ***spoiler, not really*** "lock me up in jail" idea romantic, I was just irritated. Once again, Thorne runs away, blatantly ignoring Kate's feelings, arrogantly ordering her to marry a man she doesn't love, and making her do all the work to get them together! I'm not giving up on Dare, but I may pick more carefully in the future.