Midnight Crossing

Written by Diane Shute
Review by Misty Urban

The plot of this book will mystify anyone unfamiliar with the earlier After Midnight, as readers are expected to know the background and context of the several characters, including why Quenton Saint-Descoteaux, now revealed as a French marquis, was working as a groom in the household of Nicholas Griffon while Quenton’s niece, Alix, masqueraded as her twin sister, Lily, Griffon’s wife. A liberated Quenton wants to take Alix home to France, despite the attentions of Griffon, who prefers Alix to her sister, and Alix’s involvement with Sir Robert’s racing stables. But Alix is being stalked by a murky nemesis from her even murkier past, and when she and her horse are kidnapped for unclear reasons by the sinister Claude Rouget, the action pivots to Alix’s attempts at survival while the men conduct a fruitless search.

The short, choppy scenes and sidewise, serrated prose sound literary but frequently obscure the action, and the multiple masquerades, secret identities, and profusion of titles and twins easily confuse. The characters are likeable—Alix has pluck and spirit, and the banter between the men provides interludes of humor—but all the toing and froing results in little more than moving the cast to France and setting up the need for reconciliation between Nicholas and Alix in the next book. Nothing in the setting hints that the time period is 1830s Europe, and the frequent cocktail hours, peppery dialogue, and independent movement of the women seem to belong more to later decades. It can be hoped that the concluding book in the trilogy will tie up all the loose threads, revealing character motivations and resolving the pervasive sense of mystery, thus rescuing this book from the sense that it can’t quite stand on its own.