I have a slightly OCD reading rule: series must always be read in order. Reading as many romance novels as I do (rough estimate is 13 out of 43 so far this year), this has proven a useful rule since series tend to build on each other. Then, CBR’s very own crystalclear read and hilariously reviewed Any Duchess Will Do and I asked to borrow it, because I could, and ended up reading the fourth novel of the series before having read any of the others.
Which brings us to now. I really liked this book, and while I wished I was more familiar with Spindle Cove and its inhabitants I didn’t feel like I necessarily liked it less than I would have otherwise. It was a remarkably strong reforming of a rake story and while Dare tends to push the limits of believability (you will never come across a review titled “the recognizable 1840s” from this author), I was all-in with these wacky people (not kids! Grown-ups!) and their shenanigans.
Briefest of summaries from Goodreads:
Griffin York, the Duke of Halford, has no desire to wed this season—or any season—but his diabolical mother insists he select a bride from the ladies of Spindle Cove. He chooses the serving girl. Overworked and struggling, Pauline Simms doesn’t dream about dukes. All she wants is to hang up her barmaid apron and open a bookshop. Her duties are simple: submit to his mother’s “duchess training”… and fail miserably in order to earn a thousand pounds. But, Pauline isn’t a miserable failure. She’s a brave, quick-witted, beguiling failure—a woman who ignites Griff’s desire and soothes the darkness in his soul. Keeping Pauline by his side won’t be easy—can a roguish duke convince a serving girl to trust him with her heart?
I also think I managed to put my finger on why I had struggles loving Secrets of a Summer Night as much as some of our other romance readers… I was not having it with the mother’s storyline. Yes, it’s accurate and believable to the time period and an important plot point in driving home our heroine’s motivations, I just didn’t want the incessant weight of it in the novel. This story’s mother character is much more my personal speed, particularly right now. She has her own motivations, history, and personality quirks, but she is moving the story forward as a full character in the plot, not just as a sign post of woe.
While I know not all of the Spindle Cove books are as strong as this one, and they couldn’t possibly have such a delightful main pair, I simply don’t believe it. But I believe in the power of reading to find out.
This book was read and reviewed as part of the charitable Cannonball Read.