After seven years of virtual servitude at the hands of her callous stepmother, Kate once more has her wants overruled. Her stepsister is injured and thus cannot go with her fiance to meet the prince and gain approval for the upcoming wedding. Kate must pretend to be her sister, and expects this time in the castle to be tedious and humiliating. She doesn’t expect to fall for an unruly, betrothed prince who has some major desires of his own.
Yes, this is a semi-historical, non-magic, romance version of Cinderella, and you know what? I loved every second of it.
I’m not a romance reader. I love love-stories, but have never gotten along with romances, because my limited exposure in the past had led me to believe that romance novels = underdeveloped characters and love-stories interrupted by bad euphemisms and totally unsexy sex. Of course, this is literally the third published romance novel that I’ve ever read, so perhaps I’ve just not been exposed to the right kind, or to the kind I would personally appreciate. Because A Kiss at Midnight was not a badly written, undeveloped-charactered, unsexy kind of love story. It was fantastically written, with wonderful characters (if a bit unrealistic in places – it is a fairy tale, after all!), a fun love story, and very sexy sex without all the horribly embarrassing (and buzz-killing) euphemisms so common in romance novels.
Favorite part? The women. Kate is strong and headstrong and totally her own person, embracing her sensuality and choices in life, while at the same time needing a bit of her own coming of age story. Her godmother, Henry, is the sort of woman I wish I’d had to look up to when I was young. Even the women who looked sweet and flavorless at first glance, like Kate’s stepsister Victoria, ended up with stronger personalities than I expected.
Was it predictable? Of course. It’s Cinderella! It’s supposed to be. Was there a happy ending? Do you really have to ask? Was there lots of sexy sex? Well…yes, though not as much as other romance novels I’ve read. They don’t just dive in. There’s lots of great lead-up over a huge chunk of the novel, making everything a bit more natural, and beyond that, all the desire and near-kisses and sundry bits are just as sexy in the lead-up. And hey, guess what? The prince wasn’t a total cad! He sure makes some mistakes, but Kate is more than capable of putting him in his place, and the balance between the two of them was fantastic.
So apparently, I found a romance novel that I liked, and I’m looking forward to reading more from this author at some point. She has an entire series of retold fairy tales…