A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James
A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James is a delightful historical romance novel that is based loosely on the fairy tale of Cinderella. Forced by her stepmother to live in the servant’s quarters and tend to the estate herself, Kate Daltry has no concept of what it means to be a “lady”. Her father passed away before her debut and since then she has known nothing but hard physical labor. Kate lives on her estate with her stepmother and younger sister Victoria, who is engaged to be married and, quite unfortunately, expecting a child. Victoria is bitten by her dog and can therefore not travel to meet the local prince and ask for permission to marry. Because she is pregnant, it’s imperative that she get married as quickly as possible. So Kate grudgingly agrees to pretend to be her sister, meet the Prince, get permission and then pretend it never happened. What Kate doesn’t bargain on is the Prince recognizing quickly that she’s not who she says she is. Or the remarkable chemistry that flies between them.
Prince Gabriel is a man very much the reluctant hero. He doesn’t want to live in a castle and care for his family members. But his sense of obligation cannot be overcome and he finds himself abandoning the archaeological research he so loves to run an aging castle full of older and aging family members. He finds himself betrothed to a very wealthy, very foreign princess. When his nephew arrives on the eve of Gabriel’s engagement ball, to get approval for a marriage of his own, Gabriel can’t help but be intrigued by the woman who supposedly loves his nephew. Gabriel quickly catches on that Kate is not who she says she is and soon a forbidden love blooms between them. They both believe nothing will come of their love but they cannot resist each other. Of course, after several trials and disappointments, the book does have a happy ending.
Love. LOVE this book. I have always loved fairy tales and princesses and historical fiction and romance so a book (which is actually book one of a series, EEK!) that combines them all is fantastic. I found Kate to be a refreshing heroine. She wants to escape her life and make something of herself. She knows she cannot life the way she wants if she stays where she is so she agrees to play her sister in exchange for a different kind of life. And I adore Gabriel. He’s tortured but not in an annoying way. You can feel his goodness just seeping out of him and it’s really no wonder he and Kate hit it off the way they do. When they finally succumb the the passion that’s been brewing between them, it’s extremely satisfying. There’s nothing rushed or ruined. BUT, it’s not the sex that’s the driving force behind the story, as is very common in romance novels. More, it’s the story that drives the sex and so it’s the natural progression of their relationship.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who isn’t sure about reading a romance or a historical romance. It’s got historical detail without being bogged down by it and because it’s a familiar rag-to-riches story I think people who aren’t sold on the genre will appreciate it. Lastly, because the romantic action happens so late in the story, it’s a love story that’s fully developed and humorous rather than trashy. A++ I cannot wait to start reading book 2, When Beauty Tamed the Beast.