I actually wrote a review of this story when I first read it (I do that sometimes, just not enough). Here it is, posted on March 27, 2012:
Listen, until now there's only been one Colin in my life and I'm not saying Tessa's Colin has replaced Julia's Colin, but there's competition. There's something lovely about a hero who so clearly--at the start--NOT really a hero. And yet, of course he is. He wants to do good. He has nice intentions, but things always get away from him. He's charming and just a little damaged. He needs a good woman. A quirky woman. He needs Minerva. And isn't Minerva lovely? She needs him too. God. If you loved Romancing Mr. Bridgerton, then Minerva and Colin will appeal to you because it's quite the same type of relationship. An ugly duckling who turns out to be quite more than she seems and the charming man who is a lot more than he seems. And Tessa Dare, whom I picked up only on Julia Quinn's recommendation, keeps getting getter. This is the eighth effort from this author and not only has she never stumbled, but she continues to exceed my expectations. Worth waiting for!
That's actually a pretty accurate description of my overall response, to be honest, but I'll try to be a bit more articulate with better spelling.
One of my favorite romance heroes has always been Colin Bridgerton from Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn. I love a good beta romance hero. He's not a man of action, but rather he's a good, charming man who just hasn't found the right woman yet. Colin Sandhurst from A Week to Be Wicked has given Colin Bridgerton serious competition.
In A Night To Surrender, Colin was a bit of a charming rake who didn't seem to take anything seriously. Until the end of the book, when we saw a different side of him--and we got our first scene with Minerva. Minerva changes a bit from Surrender, or maybe it's because we saw her through Susanna's eyes. Minerva was a bit annoying actually early on, and I didn't think I'd like her nearly as much as I did.
And then I read this book. And this book, my people, is everything. We take the usual tropes: a damaged hero who turns to women to avoid being alone and a bluestocking heroine, and somehow, when Tessa Dare writes these tropes, they feel fresh and original. Colin has good intentions and never sets out to hurt anyone. Things just always seem to get away from him because he's not really great at thinking about the big picture. All Minerva ever does is think about the big picture, so she loses of a lot of every day details. And that's what makes them fun to read.
Their mad dash to Scotland is filled with adventures, danger, and risk-taking along with highway men, missionaries, and princes. We spend time with the hero of a future book (Any Duchess Will Do's Griff, who I did not like much until his own book) and we get a beautiful subplot with Kate and Thorne, the stars of my other favorite Dare book, A Lady By Midnight.
Everything about this book is clicking on all cylinders and it's a joy to read it again and again.
One of my favorite scenes happens pretty early in the book when Minerva presents her mad plan to Colin in the first chapter, and they share a lovely scene in which they're frank and candid with one another, and Colin accidentally almost seduces her--until the woman he was with before she arrived makes her presence known. This scene should make me hate Colin.
Except I buy that the minute Minerva showed up, Colin forgot about Ginny Watson entirely. Which I guess still doesn't make him a great guy, but it works here. Everything about Colin comes into focus when Minerva is around him.
I also love when Kate and Thorne are trying to find evidence of Colin and Minerva's hidden courtship, and they unearth a list of M names meaning that Colin has actually planned out the different names he's going to call her. It's just a sweet moment.
This is just a *really* good book, and I can't really say enough about why it works.