Kate Taylor has been looking for a place to belong her entire life after being abandoned at a girls' school as a young child and having only hazy memories of her past. She has found friends and happiness in Spindles Cove but she is still determined to find out the truth about her past. Captain Samuel Thorne, a militia leader stationed in Spindles Cove, recognized Kate immediately upon seeing her after many years, but is happy when she does not recognize him. He knows he must keep his distance; despite his attraction to her he believes she is far too good for him and she mistakes his standoffish attitude as dislike. But she is slowly coming to realize that maybe he is more kind and generous than he is letting on and wants to delve more into this handsome man. Everything is thrown into the air when the Gramarcy's, a titled but very unconventional family, show up and claim that Kate is their long lost relative. Kate cannot believe her good fortune in finally having a family of her own, but Thorne is wary of trusting them and does not want them to learn the truth about Kate's upbringing.
To protect her he declares that the two of them are engaged and though they decide it is temporary it does not stop everyone they know from being thrilled at the idea of their marriage. Neither thinks the marriage will happen, but they do find that they are spending far more time together than usual and Kate is noticing little things about Thorne that go against the taciturn image he has built up. Thorne has dreams about moving to America and working his own plot of land and when Kate starts talking about going with him as his wife, he knows that he wants this future but does not want to drag her down with him. When papers surface that make it clear Kate is the legitimate daughter of a marquess neither knows what path to choose as she now stands to inherit piles of money and property even while it means her family may go broke. As her past starts to resurface Kate discovers that Thorne has been keeping secrets from her and while she is furious she cannot see a future without him. She must make him see that, no matter their social standings, they belong together wherever the future takes them.
I loved Katie and how caring she was for those around her, how determined she was in everything she did. I liked her insecurities and her naivete, which is unusual for me but Dare portrays these foibles with such a deft touch that it was impossible not to like her. She was strong and capable and had a great sense of humor but did have a tendency to do things that were a little too stupid to live. Thorne was obviously a dedicated captain with a checkered past and I did enjoy that he felt comfortable enough with Kate to finally share the truth with someone. He is dark and unsmiling and, although he has flashes of kindness she has to look deep to find them, and I felt like it was a very unusual pairing as they were so different. He was trying to protect her by keeping the past from her but that just seemed ridiculous and the inevitable fight that arose from his deception was equally so. His past, while haunting, did not really justify in my mind such an unhappiness that pervaded him and I quickly grew tired of his moodiness. Because of their differences I just did not see how a relationship between them would work.
The two of them spent quite a lot of time together and while it was no hampered by any distracting side plots of crazy circumstances, I just did not see how this time would lead to the two of them falling in love. He seemed infatuated with her partly because of their past together and she was very attracted to his muscular good looks, but neither was particularly in love with the other because of real reasons that I could understand. There was a nice amount of sex in the novel and Dare does a great job of imbuing her novels with great buildup and this book was no exception however, as romance novels break more sexual boundaries, she does begin to seem tame. Unfortunately, one incident particularly disturbed me; Thorne had a flashback to war and entered a different mindset and ended up flinging Kate against a wall. The fact that she does didn't get hurt proved to her that he could never truly harm her, but I do not like this new trend of mentally disturbed, almost violent, heroes who need the heroine to make him all better.
Rating: A fun heroine with a brooding and damaged hero, but the relationship was sorely lacking. This book definitely did not live up to the Spindles Cove, or Tessa Dare, standard.