Miss Kate Daltry’s life hasn’t been great since her father died. Since her stepmother Mariana cares nothing for their estate, nor for her, she’s had to take everything into her own hands – and when staff are fired, she ends up taking on their jobs. There are few bright spots in her life; she’s never had a London season and can’t imagine where she’d find a husband, nor is she certain that she’d be able to abandon the tenants to Mariana’s whims. When her stepsister is bitten by her pet dog, though, Kate is forced to impersonate her, complete with fiance and bratty dogs, at a ball in a prince’s castle. Little does she expect that she’ll find it so hard to keep up the pretense with Prince Gabriel.
Eloisa James is completely a must-buy author for me. You might recall that I just adored her Desperate Duchesses series, which only got better with each successive volume. While I’m not sure A Kiss at Midnight has the long-term resonance of that six book series with me, it’s still an absolutely delightful story that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Since A Kiss at Midnight is a Cinderella retelling, James chose not to set it in any specific time period so she could stay truer to the fairy tale. Some historical details as a result seem off, but the genuine fairy tale romance feel of the entire book is so worth it. The pages might as well be laced with a bit of pixie dust. I loved recognizing all the little details that are so familiar from a lifetime of variations on Cinderella, and in addition acknowledging a few of the changes the author made to mix it up. For example, the glass slippers aren’t really glass, but rather very thin fabric that is stiff and transparent. For rather obvious reasons, they could only have been worn once.
I loved the romance, too. These characters work so well together – so many of their interactions left me with a smile on my face. They learn to get past their initial misconceptions and truly love one another. I thought it was sweet and genuine. I also really enjoyed Kate’s interactions with her step sister Victoria, who is spoiled but has an extremely kind heart. Kate herself was the star of the show, though, always witty and vulnerable at just the right times. I don’t think she’d fit in at any time period that this book could have been set in, but that’s okay, because she doesn’t have to. As usual, I loved the literary references that the author threw in. She’s a professor of literature and I think it’s these touches that both add romance and make her books really stand out to me.
While this book may not have the emotional impact of, in particular, A Duke of Her Own, it was still an outstanding romance novel. I cherished the time I spent reading it, and if you enjoy sweet, fairy tale romances with a little bit of heat, this book is certainly for you.
It also has a gorgeous cover, doesn’t it?
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