A Kiss at Midnight
Happily Ever After/Book 1
Avon/August 1, 2010
From Goodreads ~
Miss Kate Daltry doesn't believe in fairy tales . . . or happily ever after.
Forced by her stepmother to attend a ball, Kate meets a prince . . . and decides he's anything but charming. A clash of wits and wills ensues, but they both know their irresistible attraction will lead nowhere. For Gabriel is promised to another woman—a princess whose hand in marriage will fulfill his ruthless ambitions.
Gabriel likes his fiancée, which is a welcome turn of events, but he doesn't love her. Obviously, he should be wooing his bride-to-be, not the witty, impoverished beauty who refuses to fawn over him.
Godmothers and glass slippers notwithstanding, this is one fairy tale in which destiny conspires to destroy any chance that Kate and Gabriel might have a happily ever after.
Unless a prince throws away everything that makes him noble . . .
Unless a dowry of an unruly heart trumps a fortune . . .
Unless one kiss at the stroke of midnight changes everything.
After reading and loving my first Eloisa James novel, Beauty Tamed the Beast, I was looking forward to read the first book in the series. Fate smiled on me with the suggested theme for this month challenge as Fairy Tales. Perfect since A Kiss at Midnight has the Cinderella theme.
Miss Katherine Daltry aka Kate is likely to be mistaken for a servant rather than a family member. She has taken over the duties of running the manor ever since her father died and looking like a lady is the last thing on her mind. The first impression one might have of Kate is that she lets her stepmother push her around. But that's not completely accurate. Kate works as hard as she does because she cares for the staff and the tenants of the estate. Her stepmother would like to do away with most of them, and has let quite a few go already. I liked that Kate is not portrayed as a pushover. She's certainly not meek but when she goes to the Prince's castle, she out of her element. Maybe that's why she gave in to him so easily. She knew he was engaged and no marriage proposal was possible but she felt this was her one chance at love, if only for a night.
Prince Gabriel gives a first impression of being a bit bookish. He's an archaeologist and would rather be working a dig than residing over a castle. His attraction to Kate is due in part because of her lack of knowledge of the proper etiquette when in the presence of royalty. She has a tendency to say what's on her mind and Gabriel finds her refreshing and a challenge. But he must marry for money and is engaged to a Princess. Here's where I started having problems. Gabriel's princess is due to arrive any day. It's an arranged marriage, they haven't met but Gabriel is determined to do "his duty". But he still seduces Kate, knowing she's a virgin he assures her he won't take her virginity. Nope, he'll just get her, and himself naked. But no sex. *rolls eyes*. Yeah, how long do you think that lasted? He even got to where he was begging Kate for sex (this is after they had sex, but only for that one special night) because he just had to have her. This is after his fiancé had arrived at the castle and he's met her and she's nice!
The overall story and the writing are well done but I had a hard time with Gabriel's motives and I just didn't like him. I get that he was conflicted with his duty to his family and people and his feelings for Kate but it felt too much like he used her. When he drags Kate into the maze to have sex, after just dancing with his fiancé, that was the final straw for me. As far as I was concerned, this was no prince charming.
On the brighter side, I did like Kate's fairy godmother Henry, short for Henrietta. She was a hoot! She said what was on her mind and helped guide Kate through her venture into society. I did like the story but would have enjoyed it far more had Gabriel behaved more like a gentleman rather than a scoundrel. If you can overlook his behavior, then this fairy tale might be for you.
Book in this series ~
A Kiss at Midnight
When Beauty Tamed the Beast
This Duke of Mine (2012)