A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James

30 May

I really like Eloisa James. I always find myself immediately falling into her story, with none of that self-conscious reflection I sometimes get when I read in a genre. It’s kind of a weird habit – before I really get interested, for the first few pages I mentally catalogue various earmarks of certain genres, trying to give myself a feel for what I can expect. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it’s kind of like me, sitting back, listening to myself read in my head, and thinking “Ok, gothic mystery obviously, there’s the tortured hero and the mysterious presence in the upstairs bedroom, gotcha.” I know, nerd alert. Anyway, Eloisa James never lets me do that – I always end up immediately engrossed in her plot and characters.

I had a hell of a time figuring out which of James’ books I’d read already when picking A Kiss at Midnight out at the bookstore. A Kiss at Midnight is a slight retelling of Cinderella, but with some alterations. The stepsister (there’s only one) isn’t mean, just kinda clueless. The heroine is not immediately enchanted with the prince; rather the opposite, really. I do love me some fairy tales, by the way. I love that deep-seated vibration they give all of us who grew up on the same fairy tales – immediately, we’re all on the same page, feeling the same emotions. Anyway, Kate is the impoverished child of a neglectful father, who left his vast estate to his evil new wife, leaving Kate little more than a servant in her own house. Through some shenanigans involving a disfiguring dog bite, Kate must impersonate her stepsister during a visit from a prince from a neighboring country; this prince is the relative of her stepsister’s fiance, and without his approval, the marriage can’t take place. Kate’s not happy about it, but wants to help her stepsister, so she hies off to the prince’s estate with her almost-brother-in-law, complete with ill-fitting dresses and ugly wigs. Needless to say, sparks fly between Kate and the prince, but the prince is already engaged to a Russian heiress who is due to arrive any day. Lots of mistaken identity, secrets, and tomfoolery ensue, with the requisite and much-deserved happy ending.

I can’t tell you how pleasant it was to read this book. Admittedly, I’m kicking bootay in my reading lately, with the exception of Shogun, and I wasn’t expecting to find yet another awesome romance, but huzzah! I did! James’ writing is funny and clever, and you end up enjoying the secondary characters almost as much as the hero and heroine. I especially loved Wick, the charming butler/illegitimate brother, and Henry, Kate’s godmother. The buildup of the relationship between Kate and the prince was entirely believable, and I loved how neither were perfect. The prince is a bit arrogant and is used to getting his own way, while Kate’s imperfections lie in her physical appearance, though she did have a kind of ugly duckling transformation in the end. And James is so funny! She has a real knack with dialogue and is able to introduce a sly kind of wit and humor to her characters. Also, as icing on the cake, the ending was SO good. Such a good, emotional payoff after a bit of angst. Thank you, Ms. James, for writing such likable characters, fantastic dialogue, and a kickass ending.

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One Response to “A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James”

  1. Aunt Linda May 31, 2012 at 5:41 am #

    I am having Kindle problems. Haven’t been able to get it set up, everyone thinks it’s due to my WiFi, so I might have to replace that, but as soon as I get it set up, I’ll load this book. Or…go to the library! I’m almost tempted to read Shogun again, just because I want to see if I feel the same way you did. It’s been longer for me, obviously.

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