I am utterly satisfied with this book.
I started reading it a long time ago and I drop it (first chapter only). It starts so similar to Devil in Winter - heroine visits rake secretly at night to propose a elopement. And the paragraph that made me drop it for a while was:
But Minerva was different. She’d always been different. Of the three Highwood sisters, she was the (..) only one with no prospects, no reputation to protect.
Ugh. I know that all Regency authors want to make the readers sympathize with the heroine, and that ALL of them are different, but it is so cliche. And the last straw was when Minerva and Colin kiss... the chapter ends with "and then she kissed him". Another cliche.
BUT it turns out that this book was a breeze of fresh air. Things start to get really good once Minerva takes Colin to her cave. She is a nerd, but a believable one. Her study in rocks is reliable, her work is reliable. And once they "elope"... awww, everything is so sweet and funny. Colin may be a rake, but he is not pushy, he is not a horny alpha male. In fact, he is pretty respectful with Minerva, and very caring. On the other hand, Minerva is such a refreshing character. She is not a prude but neither a wanton. She is clever and she is never dramatic; she is not in the habit of "blushing" and she is rather sensible.
And they talk. If she wants to see him naked, she says so. If he is finding her beautiful, he says so. If she is falling in love with him, she tells him so. There are no misunderstandings, no secrets and all that silly stuff that happens so frequently in Regency romances. Once they became lovers, there are no "I will marry her because is the right thing to do" and "I want him to love me" thoughts; instead, he tells her so, and she tells him so. I could have hugged both of them throughout the story, thanking them for being so sensible!
Even the ending is sweet. They do not rush to marriage, Colin courts Minerva properly, and their camaraderie was a lot of fun to read.
This is the first book by TD that I've read (I skipped the first one only because this is the one that most readers mention in threads and it made me curious). I may not continue with the follow volume, but I will definitely read more of her books.
Thank you Tessa Dare for restoring my faith in good not-too-clean regency romances books.