“We have to get out of here, Bram. Before they take our bollocks and use them for pincushions.”
Bram made his way to the nearest wall and propped one shoulder against it, resting his knee. Damn, that climb had been steep. “Let me understand this,” he said, discreetly rubbing his aching thigh under the guise of brushing off loose dirt. “You’re suggesting we leave because the village is full of spinsters? Since when do you complain about an excess of women?”
“These are not your normal spinsters. They’re…they’re unbiddable. And excessively educated.”
“Oh. Frightening, indeed. I’ll stand my ground when facing a French cavalry charge, but an educated spinster is something different entirely.”
“You mock me now. Just you wait. You’ll see, these women are a breed unto themselves.”
Welcome to Spindle Cove. As Colin said, the women here are not quite the society ladies you are probably used to seeing in Historical Romance. They are the ones that have various conditions that require them to be out of the public eye. Susanna is not such a woman, but because of some past experiences with her own condition, she is determined to save these women from the unfortunate experiences they might end up facing. She has made Spindle Cove a sought after haven and does her best to help these women without resorting to medical cures.
Enter Bram and his cohorts. They’re on their way to see Susanna’s father, Sir Finch, hoping he can pull some strings and get Bram back into the military position he desires. Instead, Bram is given the unwelcome news that he has become a member of the nobility and that he is required to pull together a militia to guard against French invasion. Sir Finch dangles the possibility of restoring Bram back to active duty after his militia is given a successful military review at the midsummer fair, so Bram is determined to succeed. Imagine his surprise to find that men are at a minimum in Spindle Cove!
The conflict between Bram and Susanna’s goals gave this book a bit of a battle of the sexes feel. I wasn’t really loving it in the beginning, as I felt it was a bit too stereotypical and heavy-handed, but the author really delved into Bram and Susanna and I fell in love with them. Susanna has a hard time dealing with people who have no problems to be fixed. When she meets Bram he is frustrated by her need to load him with baggage he doesn’t have. In his eyes he’s a simple man and he wishes she could just take him at face value.
“My pride’s not wounded, for God’s sake. And no, I’m not disappointed. Nor haunted, nor embittered, nor threatened. Stop trying to pin all these emotions on me like frilly pink ribbons. I’m not one of your delicate spinsters, Miss Finch. This isn’t about my tender feelings. I have things to accomplish, and you”–he poked a single finger into her shoulder–“are hindering me.”
For his part, Bram is treading water and struggling to stay afloat. He has always identified himself by his capabilities in the military. He is lost and uncertain of himself after being shot in the knee and taken off active duty. He is determined to return to that life—because he believes he has no worth or skills beyond that—but he is hampered by the fact that he is not completely healed. He cannot accept this weakness in himself (he finds it something to be ashamed of) and continues to push to be as capable and ready as he was before. In Susanna’s unconscious quest to uncover his hidden issues, she stumbles upon the truth and cannot help but slowly fall for him.
Here it was, his secret. No childhood trauma, no ravages of war. Just a deep, unspoken desire for closeness.
*sigh* How can you not be sucked in by such a man?
The humor and the dialogue in this book popped. There were so many scenes where I found myself giggling and smiling. But there were also the deeper, more emotionally rich scenes where I had to sigh. I had such a fun time watching Bram and Susanna clash and banter and eventually fall in love. This romance absolutely pleased me and I had a warm feeling in my chest when I closed the book. *sigh* So good.
“No, Susanna,” he said. “I cannot love you just a little. If that’s what you want, you must find a different man.” His green eyes were breathtaking in their intensity. His thumb brushed her bottom lip. “Because I can only love you entirely. With everything I am, and everything I will be. Body, mind, heart, soul.”