Potent Pleasures / Midnight Pleasures
Eloisa James has written two enjoyable Regency-era historical romances that are linked by characters and plot elements—they are best read in the order published to truly appreciate some of the situations that develop in the second book.
In Potent Pleasures we meet Charlotte Daicheston, much more interested in painting than in her coming out ball. Shortly before her debut, she attends a masquerade ball where she behaves most improperly with a masked stranger whom she believes to be a footman. But of course he is not, he is an earl, and has no memory of Charlotte when they next meet three years later. Both Charlotte and her mother are delightful characters.
Charlotte’s good friend Sophie, who is noted for being beautiful and a rather fast flirt, rather than for her true accomplishments as a linguist, reappears as the heroine of Midnight Pleasures. Her heart belongs to one man, while she is engaged to marry another. I hate to delve further into the plots, for fear of spoilers (don’t read the book jacket/cover blurbs!).
Both books share an annoying trait—misunderstandings between hero and heroine come fast and furious—as soon as one is resolved, another seems to pop up. One or two such mechanisms per book would be fine, but their continued recurrences became irritating and led me to wonder how intelligent these characters truly were. Both books would be improved by removing some of these misunderstandings, making them somewhat shorter and tighter in the process.