A Kiss at Midnight
When Kate Daltry’s beloved father dies, her spendthrift stepmother takes over the family’s lands and fortune and relegates Kate to second-class citizenship within the household. As a result, Kate is independent and headstrong, but not exactly wise to the ways of elegant young women of Regency society. Kate’s stepsister, Victoria, finds herself unable to attend a major social event due to an injury, and Kate is forced to step in and attend—while masquerading as Victoria. Kate catches the attention of Gabriel, the prince of a tiny European principality, and the two begin an intriguing flirtation. Gabriel is one of the few people who knows Kate’s true identity, and the shared secret gives them an immediate feeling of intimacy—and love soon follows.
One of James’s strengths is her dialogue—her characters are witty, and Kate and Gabriel’s repartee is a joy to read. However, occasional out-of-character turns of phrase (“wardrobe malfunction” was the most memorable) yanked me out of the story. The Cinderella theme isn’t forced, and appealing secondary characters, such as Kate’s bawdy godmother, round the novel out nicely. This isn’t James’s best work, but a mediocre Eloisa James novel is still pretty good, and readers looking for a light romantic escape will enjoy Kate’s fairy-tale inspired story.