Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Night to Surrender

A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare 1112

Susanna Finch is the de facto leader of Spindle's Cove which has become a haven for women who have trouble fitting in with society and need a place to explore and be themselves. She enjoys herself and the environment of welcoming she and her fellow townspeople have created. Victor Bramwell is desperate to regain his commission to help fight Napoleon and he turns to his father's friend, the amorist, Lewis Finch. Finch informs Bram that he can get his command back but that he has been honored with the Earldom of Rycliff and he must raise and train a militia in Spindle's Cove. Bram is not pleased to hear this but he sets about trying all he can to find eligible men, a hard task since the community has turned into a haven for women and even the local tavern has become a tea shop. Susanna does not like Bram for coming in and disturbing her peace and his actions threaten to ruin the reputation of Spindle Cove; a reputation she has worked so hard to maintain. She needs Spindle's Cove as a safe place for herself and for all the women of England who need to be welcomed somewhere.

Bram has been an officer his whole life and when his knee injury threatens to ruin his career it also threatens his sense of self so he sees his enterprise in Spindle's Cove as his last chance and he doesn't want anyone standing in his way. They are at cross purposes and bickering and bantering over the future of Spindle's Cove, but they also come to an agreement that their two groups can work together. Bram thinks he is just what Susanna needs; she is loud and tall and takes charge and he is just the man who can stand up to her and not allow her to run roughshod over him. Susanna feels that she has finally found someone in Bram who she can depend on but she worries that his military career will always be more important and he will end up abandoning her. With the officer's ball and the militia review coming up tensions are running high and Susanna and Bram are both unsure of where their relationship is heading and how much they will have to give up to be together. But when an accident threatens Spindle's Cove and their lives it is clear to both of them that they will do anything for the love they share.

I really liked Susanna because she was genuinely strong and brave and capable and presented herself as so confident and had hidden vulnerabilities. I take issue with romance novel heroines who are presented as so strong but Susanna really was; she built Spindle's Cove to protect other women like her who needed a safe haven and took pride in what she had accomplished. She had a purpose in life beyond the mere charity work and because Bram had one too, it made them more equals. Bram was a very well developed character because he so identified with his role in the army that he couldn't see his life without it. It was only with Susanna coming into his life that he could see life beyond being an officer and enjoy that prospect. And similarly he made her take risks with her own hopes and desires and come to recognize that she was hiding in Spindle's Cove and could take a chance on him and on her life. This really made their relationship pop to me because they complemented each other so well and each of them needed the other in some way and became a better person with the other's help.

There was a good amount of sex in the novel and it was well written and pretty hot and inventive. While I understood that Bram was presented as so different from all the men she had met her life up to this point because he did was not intimidated by her and presented a challenge, I found it odd that such a big deal was made over how he could stand up to her and wouldn't be pushed around. The men in Spindle's Cove did tailor their work to suit the needs of women because that's how they made their living and Bram was personally affronted by this. There was a little too much of a theme of making real men out of people and I found it insulting that Bram couldn't appreciate that a blacksmith who fixed lockets was just as good as one who spent his life throwing horseshoes or whatever. The militia buildup was interesting and I liked that Bram and Susanna worked together for much of the novel to make things work out and helped each other. The book was a typical length but for some reason I became bored about half way through and felt like the book dragged after that.

Rating: Two well developed and well suited characters with a strong relationship but I was bored during the book even if I can't put my finger on precisely why.

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