Narrator Carolyn Morris confirms my first impression (In Love with a Wicked Man): I’d happily auto-purchase any well-written novel she narrates! Her narration of A Night to Surrender enhances this novel penned by Tessa Dare.
First in the Spindle Cove series, the novel itself was very favorably received when it came out in 2011. Ms. Dare’s endearing characters, witty banter, and unique setting made for a fresh voice in the ocean of Regencies.
A Night to Surrender brings together healer spinster Susanna Finch and a wounded hero, Lt. Col. Victor “Bram” Bramwell. As the only child of the area’s highest-ranking gentleman, Sir Lewis Finch, Susanna is the effective leader of the seaside village of Spindle Cove. At twenty-five, she’s on-the-shelf and happy that way. She’s educated, a crack shot, tall, unconventionally beautiful—really, unconventional in so many ways. Think freckled Katharine Hepburn in her heyday. Susanna basically transformed Spindle Cove into a vacation destination for certain types of well-bred young ladies: the painfully shy or of indeterminate ills who can’t pull off a season, young wives disenchanted with marriage, girls too enchanted with the wrong men. In other words, it’s a sanctuary for non-conforming gentlewomen, earning it the nickname “Spinster Cove” among the ton.
Meanwhile, all Bram has ever been and all he’s ever wanted to be is a soldier. Eight months ago, a shot with a lead ball injured his knee. He’s been pushing his recovery and is determined to get back to the war front. Bram is now in Spindle Cove with two soldiers to appeal for Sir Lewis’ influence in regaining his field command. Instead, Bram finds himself the new Earl of Rycliff with a ruined castle overlooking Spindle Cove and is tasked with raising a local militia whose successful review could regain his command. But how does one form a militia in a village full of spinsters?
Too few men, too many sheep, and most especially, Bram’s instant attraction to Susanna complicate his mission. As the women face off with Bram and his cohorts, hilarious mishaps ensue. Bram and Susanna’s interactions, supported by an entertaining cast, are full of wit and sexual tension. Their encounters slowly reveal their inner characters, giving us that satisfyingly romantic end where we just know these two are meant to be together.
Ms. Morris’ British accent and light modulated voice are a perfect match for this playful romance. Her natural delivery of Bram and Susanna’s battle-of-the-sexes repartee clearly conveys how these two enjoy sparring. Ms. Morris assumes a gruffer tone to portray Bram, evoking his military manly-manliness. Susanna’s healing nature is brought out by Ms. Morris’ softer tones for her character. Both are strong intelligent characters, comfortable in their skin, willing to face their fears. Ms. Morris’ performance captures this as well as the range of their emotions as Bram and Susanna fall in love and acknowledge it.
Ms. Morris also convincingly plays all the other characters with slight variations in inflections, pitch, tone. Bram’s philandering cousin and the second book’s hero, Lord Payne, sounds charming, surly, wise–the perfect comic foil to Bram’s grim determination.
Battle of the sexes resolving into “but, Venus and Mars need each other” can easily feel heavy-handed. Ms. Morris’ pacing and timing was just right to convey the humor of the battle, without taking us out of the Regency setting. Even though you know it’s coming, you’ll laugh as you listen to the testosterone-fueled men go for rounds against independent-minded women (and animal stock).
Overall, Ms. Morris’ storytelling adds to the audio experience, and I’d highly recommend this listen!
Book Content: A-
Steam Factor: For your burning ears only
Violence: Minimal (But no real animals were harmed)
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Harper Audio
A Night to Surrender was provided to AudioGals for review by Harper Audio.