Avenging Angel

Dangerous Games

Dangerous Ground

A Night to Surrender
by Tessa Dare
(Avon, $7.99, R)ISBN 978-0-06-204983-4
Spindle Cove is the holiday destination for a certain type of ladies ... the types whose guardians don't know what to do with them. Nicknamed Spinster Cove in London, Spindle Cove is home or respite to those who are fleeing or infatuated with rakes, those whose come-outs just aren't going as planned, the unwell, or those who are just an embarrassment for one reason or another. The daughter of the local gentleman, Susanna Fitch is the unofficial proprietress of the town with no men ... until one injured infantry colonel arrives with a favor to ask Susanna's father.

A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare is the story of independent, stubborn Susanna Fitch and said lieutenant colonel, one Victor Bramwell. Bram has come through Susanna's little haven in the hopes of convincing her father, a great military mind in his own right as well as an explosives engineer, to recommend him to his superiors. Recently wounded during the war on the Continent, Bram is itching to return to command. Susanna is hoping to get him quickly set on his way; not only do Bram and his two companions distort her preferred image for Spindle Cove, but Bram stirs things up in her that Susanna knows will trample her tranquility.

Alas, Susanna's father refuses Bram's request, and instead bestows upon him the ancient title of Earl of Rycliff and the local castle. He insinuates that if Bram is able to raise a local militia within the month for review by a duke, then perhaps something else might be done about his military career.

For someone with Bram's background, training a militia is cake. Or it would be, if he could locate a militia. It turns out that the rumors of Spindle Cove are true and there isn't even a handful of capable men to be found. For this, he blames Susanna, even as he quickly learns to appreciate her wit, heart, and determination.

Two very strong-minded people, it seems that Bram's plans and Susanna's must exist separate of one another - including their romantic ones. As the review draws closer, however, the ladies and handful of gents realize that their goals and strengths do not have to work against each other. What grows to be a promising day for Spindle Cove, however, dawns in a threefold disaster that will test the wills of every person in the village.

A Night to Surrender promises to be the first in a series about Spindle Cove, which was a very fun place to read about. The "quirky" ladies are a breath of fresh air compared to the often stuffy heroines of period pieces. Though the title is a bit lurid, the book is anything but. Susanna is a sunny girl who never takes time to regret her moves or question her motives. Bram's a tough guy with an albeit stubborn heart of gold, just like any good hero. His cousin, the philanderer Lord Payne, is a great addition to the tale, providing a comic foil to a charming story.

Unfortunately for the rating, A Night to Surrender stalls out big-time about two-thirds of the way through and never really recovers. This does not keep it from being a quick, fun, end-of-summer read. Fans of historicals or Dare will be thrilled, and if the first book is any indicator the series should be great fun.

--Sarrah Knight

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