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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A funny, farcical, fractured fairy tale.
It's obvious from the reading of it, but Eloisa James also lets us know in her Historical Notes at the end, that this is NOT historical fiction. It's just delightful fiction. She's free and easy with language (it's full of modernisms) and has written a wickedly funny take on the Cinderella story. Not much depth to it, it's just pure entertainment with LOL moments,...
Published on July 29, 2010 by OLT

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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It was okay...
I think is the first Eloisa James books I've read [can't be totally sure, since I read a lot of romance novels] but this book wouldn't have me wanting to read another by the author.

Halfway through the book I found myself thinking, "I don't think I really like this book." And I was trying to figure out why, and I don't think i really buy the attraction between...
Published on August 13, 2010 by ghsoapster


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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A funny, farcical, fractured fairy tale., July 29, 2010
By 
It's obvious from the reading of it, but Eloisa James also lets us know in her Historical Notes at the end, that this is NOT historical fiction. It's just delightful fiction. She's free and easy with language (it's full of modernisms) and has written a wickedly funny take on the Cinderella story. Not much depth to it, it's just pure entertainment with LOL moments, crazy characters (including various animals of different species), absurd situations and witty, zany dialogue. James has always been a wordsmith, so the way she writes is even more to be admired than the plots she contrives.

As for this plot, no need to talk about it. We're all familiar with Cinderella's story. Here we have our Cinderella (Miss Kate Daltry), wicked stepmother (Mrs. Mariana Daltry), not-wicked-at-all stepsister (Victoria Daltry), somewhat charming prince (Prince Gabriel Albrecht-Frederick William von Aschenberg of Warl-Marburg-Baalsfeld), godmother not-of-the-fairy-variety (Henrietta, Lady Wrothe), glass slippers (not of glass but rather of a transparent stiffened taffeta), a ball which will be left at midnight, and, of course, the HEA required of all fairy tales. It's a truly fun read (charming, one might even say).
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It was okay..., August 13, 2010
I think is the first Eloisa James books I've read [can't be totally sure, since I read a lot of romance novels] but this book wouldn't have me wanting to read another by the author.

Halfway through the book I found myself thinking, "I don't think I really like this book." And I was trying to figure out why, and I don't think i really buy the attraction between Kate and Gabriel or this great passion they're supposed to share.

I gave it three stars, because the last half of the book is a lot better than the first half. Although when the hero and heroine finally make love, there's a real sleazy feel about it, with him spending time with his future wife, while slipping upstairs to cop a feel of his future lover. Might have been better if they had gotten together before the future wife showed up. It was hard to get into their passion when I thought about the innocent future bride down stairs waiting for him. Left a real bad taste in my mouth.

It has a nice romantic ending. Just wished I'd enjoyed the journey to that happy ending more.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars humorous, August 29, 2010
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This review is from: A Kiss at Midnight (Fairy Tales Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
This is a very light, humorous book. It is a Cinderella-type story. Katherine Daltry, a twenty-three-year-old "spinster" and orphan, resides with and caters to (serving as land steward) her horrid, greedy stepmother and daft stepsister. She, of course, has no fancy clothes or trifles as all her father's money was left to the stepmother, who is using said funds to sponsor her weeping daughter and marry her off to a viscount (this viscount happens to be a distant cousin to our prince, and for one reason or other, needs the prince's approval to wed his chosen bride).

Gabriel is our prince - but a second son, not a crown prince. Gabriel's brother, who has thoroughly embraced religion, has exiled all the "oddities" of his duchy to Pomeroy Castle in England. So, Gabriel, who is an "amateur" archeologist, finds himself needing to support a menagerie of peculiar relatives, exotic animals, and everything else in between. And in order for him to accomplish this task, he needs a rich wife, who has already been chosen for him by his brother and is expected to arrive any moment from Russia.

The preliminaries aside, the love story begins when Kate finds herself posing as her sister - for farcical reasons I choose not to reveal - at Pomeroy Castle, awaiting Gabriel's approval of her as his cousin's wife. Kate and her "fiancé" have been invited to join the festivities preceding Gabriel's betrothal ball. And this is where all the fun begins. The interaction between the two main characters was so refreshing, as is the interaction with the secondary characters, especially the "magical" godmother - humorous to say the least.

Kate is a very likable, sincere heroine with a joyous look on life. It is not every day one reads a romance novel where the heroine is capable of discussing that she has padded (or shall I say wax increased) her breasts. She cares for her estate and the tenants residing there, but is at that point in her life where she feels she deserves better. Gabriel is not your typical rake who goes through women like tissues. He is a very honorable man; he takes his responsibilities seriously; he genuinely wants to take care of his "bequeathed" menagerie and pursue his archeological interests.

Now, there are the typical "devil," "predator," "lethal grace," comparisons when describing Gabriel, but they do not distract; yet, how I wish the male protagonist's attributes were portrayed differently, but perhaps that would stray too much from the romance genre - enough digressing.

The sexual attraction in this novel was well developed and could be felt. The sex scene/scenes (I believe there was just one or two) however lacked the sizzle that I like - but that is a personal preference, and it may not bother you. The relationship between the two protagonists wasn't much of a relationship, but a brief affair that led to happily-ever-after; but in all fairness, it does adhere to the Cinderella theme does it not? One dance at a ball, one lost shoe, and Cinderella is wed.
There are two things I did not enjoy about the novel. The first - when the one or two sex scenes were taking place, the prince's intended bride was just down stairs. What the two characters were doing felt like cheating to me simply because neither one of them was/is malicious in nature, and something of this sort would go against their morals. The second part I did not enjoy - the ending. The prince built a funeral pyre, declaring that he would throw himself on those flames if he could not have Kate. Although said pyre references the discussion of the mythological Dido held between the two characters in the novel, this act was way over the top for me. I like romance but something this dramatic just does not appeal to me.

I really recommend this book, especially if you are looking for a light romance novel to read and laugh and cry along with.

P.S. There are glass slippers here too!!!
original on romancecritic
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sweet romantic tale that lacks in common sense. Most characters were well-written, but the prince was not quite "charming"., November 7, 2010
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Alyce In Wonderland "The Looking Glass" (Over the hill or underland, or just behind a tree) - See all my reviews
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There were definitely Cinderella accents to the story: A young woman who was born a lady but is being treated as a maid, "glass" slippers, small animal friends (dogs instead of mice), a mean step-mother (but the step-sister was sweet and kind-hearted), a loving godmother (not a fairy), and a prince who is hosting a ball. Other than that, the story is completely different from the traditional Cinderella tale.

Kate's father died and left everything to her step-mother. The step-mother has taken it all and turned it into a large dowry for her own natural daughter, leaving Kate with no hope of a high marriage. At 23, Kate is nearing spinsterhood. Her days are spent working, her hands are callused, and her clothes are threadbare. When Kate's step-sister hopes to marry the cousin of a prince, she is required to meet and be approved by the prince before the nuptials can take place. Kate's sister suffers a dog bite to the lip and refuses to meet the prince with such a blemish. Kate's step-mother forces her to disguise herself as her step-sis and meet the prince in her place. (This is rather ridiculous, because she will be spending days with people who have met step-sis before... yet they expect no one to notice.)

The prince is holding a ball to introduce his arranged bride, a princess from Russia. He meets his nephew's "fiance" and finds himself a bit enchanted by the woman. She is the first single young female to not be wowed by his greatness. First, she is an annoyance. Later, he finds himself infatuated. Still, he is duty bound to marry the Russian princess. Kate and the prince are falling in love, but both know there is no hope for a future together.

Overall, the story was a very sweet and old-fashioned romance. I found that it kept me interested, even despite two things that didn't work for me:

1. It was stretching a bit to have Kate pretend to be a sister she looks nothing like. Even more so to have her come back into society later as herself and no one notices it's the same woman. Her only disguise: wigs that she wore while pretending to be her sister. The two women had completely different body types, skin colors, and faces... but no one noticed? OK... I'll chalk that off as "fairytale" creative license. I really prefer a story that I can "believe", but for some reason it didn't bother me as much with this book.

2. The prince was a bit of a jerk. He used Kate for physical pleasure, all the while planning to marry another woman whom he was expecting to arrive at his castle in a couple of days. I found it hard to feel badly for his breaking heart when he acted so dishonorably. Also, the prince I want to read about in a fairytale romance is a man who fights for his beloved against all odds. His reasons for choosing to marry the Russian princess were unselfish, but he didn't even try to find a way around it. Everyone else in his household put more effort into fixing the situation than he did. Not much of a "hero" to my way of thinking.

So why 4 stars, despite these things that bothered me? I honestly can't figure that out myself. Something about the story just kept me hoping and reading.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sweet Romance!, July 29, 2010
I was very surprised at how much I loved this book! It was a sweet, romantic and sexy story! Nice, 'light', happy, and hot! If you are in the mood for a deep dark story skip this one. If you want a book that will make you smile and leave you in a good mood pick this one! Eloisa James writes in the 'Historical Notes' section in the back that she allowed herself a more freedom with the language than in her other historical novels. I found that it made the book easier to read. If you are a stickler for historical accuracy you might want to read the Note first. Definitely 5 stars!
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Didn't feel like love to me, August 13, 2010
I had a really hard time believing the romance between our hero and heroine. Their interactions never inspired any type of true feeling for either of the characters. I did really enjoy the godmother; she was large and in charge. I also had trouble accepting that most people would not be able to tell the difference between the stepsisters because of a wig and wax breasts.

All-in-all I don't believe the book was poorly written, it just didn't make me "connect" to the characters.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 Stars - Entertaining but Problematic, June 14, 2011
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This book grew on me.

I started off rather skeptical about it, because I really do loathe books where the plot hinges on the heroine engaging in deliberate deception of some kind. It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth, so this whole business where Kate has to pretend to be her half-sister Victoria just did not sit right with me. And there were some issues with the historical setting that I found extremely distracting, which I'll talk about later.

But damn if there wasn't something addictive about this book anyway, and despite my reservations, once I got into it, I had trouble putting it down. The book is best when Kate and Gabriel are just being themselves, together, and since that's most of what we read romance novels for, I'd deem the book a success.

The plot runs thusly: Kate is a beleaguered spinster-at-23 whose father died and married, as we learn early on, his mistress, who already had a daughter by him, Victoria. He promptly kicks as well, leaving the stepmother to spend his fortune on gowns and jewels for herself and her sweet-if-dim daughter, allowing the tenancies on his estate to fall into neglect and disrepair. Kate, old enough when the stepmother steps in to feel a sense of obligation, does what she can to stem the tide of frivolous expense, with only middling results. Meanwhile, Victoria proves herself to be a lightskirt and gets in the family way by a gentleman she has not yet married. The gentleman in question, Algie, is perfectly amenable to marrying her, but needs the permission of his uncle, who just so happens to be a foreign prince living in England. Said uncle (Gabriel, our hero) is meant to meet Victoria at his own betrothal ball, to a Russian Princess, but when one of Victoria's lapdogs bites her, temporarily marring her face, Kate is forced to step in -- in a plot point that really makes no sense whatsoever. I don't know why anyone thought that would be plausible in the slightest, and to make matters worse, it doesn't serve any ultimate point except to get Kate in Gabriel's vicinity, which could just as easily have been accomplished by sending her along as chaperone or something. It's an unnecessary plot complication with no payoff -- there's never any trouble caused by it, no conflict springs from it, and when Kate appears as herself at the end of the book, absolutely no one notices that she's the same person who's been pretending to go by a different name for the past few days.

Anyway, Kate and Gabriel meet and suffer irresistible attraction for each other. There's quite a bit of good heat between them, and the scenes where they just get to banter and engage in love-sport are the best parts of the book. They're quick and clever, and they tease each other in a very genuine way. James also does a very clever thing -- though, again, if you stop and think about it for more than three seconds, you can't help noticing that it has no plausibility whatsoever -- with the big sex scene, dividing it up over several chapters. Circumstances force them to keep stopping and starting, and as a result, the reader has to keep pressing on to see where it's all going. The end of the book ties up neatly and predictably, but no less joyously for all of that.

Another highlight of the book is Lady Wrothe, a delicious old dragon who turns out to be Kate's godmother. I was thrown by how quickly canny Kate decided to trust this complete stranger, but I let it slide because Lady Wrothe (who prefers to be known as Henry) is just so much fun. She goes beyond being the stock character of the menopausal matron who's reached the age where she can say whatever she damn well pleases -- though there's a lot of that in her, too -- and displays a more detailed backstory than a character of her type usually receives. She's an instigator and a meddler, and many of her comments are laugh-out-loud funny.

On the downside:

There's trouble with historical accuracy, although not in the usual way. In an end-note, James states, quite clearly, that this is a fairy tale, not a historical novel, and that it would take place somewhere around 1813 if she had to guess. The trouble is that... the book itself doesn't hold up that deliberate vagueness. James is, instead, overly-specific in a way that confuses the matter entirely. (I might also add that it's all well and good to tell your reader not to worry about the time frame, but if you do it in an endnote, the reader has already, well, read, and so the damage is done). There are so many time-specifying details that conflict with each other, that she could have (and perhaps should have) just left out if she didn't want to firmly date the thing.

I'm not saying that this is a debilitating flaw or that it will bother everyone. I'm saying it bothers me because I have such acute historical awareness. The contradictions were a constant distraction. Perhaps I should brush it off -- this is, after all, a fairy tale -- but I like my historical romances to be, well, historical. And I just can't understand going to the trouble of using so much detail if she specifically wanted it to be non-historical.

Right. Everyone whose eyes glazed over when I started talking about fashion can tune back in now.

There's also a vagueness about Gabriel's nature as a foreign prince. He doesn't seem foreign in the least. I can understand not wanting to write an accent, but Gabriel uses an awful lot of English-specific slang -- which I suppose you could excuse in that he went to Oxford, but still, it just seems... unnecessary for him to be Teutonic. He behaves, in every way, like any number of alpha male English heroes I've read. I certainly don't mind that -- I do love me an alpha male -- but I don't see the sense in going through the conceit of giving your hero a foreign background if you're not going to make some use of it. It seems like it's only there so that he can be a prince, so that James could see her Cinderella-story through "properly" -- which is, of course, entirely unnecessary, as any number of authors who've treated on the fairy tale trope over the years could have told her. There's absolutely no reason, story-wise, that Gabriel couldn't have been the son of a Duke, with some wealthy heiress betrothed he'd never met standing in for the equally-vaguely-defined Russian princess, with an equally fanatic older brother. There's no element of his story that couldn't as easily have been English. The foreignness doesn't add anything.

Overall, I enjoyed this book more than I would have guessed I would after the first few chapters. Like I said, it grew on me. I haven't read any of the other books up for a RITA in the same category, so I can't say how it compares or if I think it should win. I think the biggest problem with this book is that it needed tightening -- there are so many plot elements that were just unnecessary, that could've been handled more deftly. I'm willing to suspend quite a bit of disbelief, but this book has plotholes you could drive carriages through. Still, it was a pleasant read, and worth picking up if you're generally a fan of romances.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars UGH!, April 8, 2011
By 
LuvGirl (New York ,NY USA) - See all my reviews
2.5 stars. Here I was enjoying this book and excepting the fact that the heroine was not as pretty as she use to be since her life became harder after her father past away, but it was rubbed in my face so many times that it got on my last nerves. "She's so gaunt", "she looks so pale and sick", "she's not as pretty as she use to be". I started to doubt the hero's attraction for her! I'm not saying she has to be drop dead gorgeous, but there has to be some sort of attraction! I would have been happy even if it was just the hero that saw it, but he was one of her worst critics until the end! That's the main reason why this book did not work for me.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars NOT EXACTLY ENCHANTING..., March 7, 2012
I gave this one two chances, but still wasn't impressed. Didn't strike me as a love story. The hero felt he was losing control over his life by being forced to wed a wealthy bride, chosen by his brother, so he could use her money to support his many relations. He pursued the 'poor' heroine as a rebellious distraction. (Not exactly heart warming.) The heroine had been a champion for the underdog throughout the story until the end when she wanted the prince to choose her over the welfare of a castle full of his relations. (Not exactly noble.)

Narrator was okay. Some of her female voices were a little squeaky though.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A great read if you don't want a serious regency/historical fiction, September 2, 2011
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This review is from: A Kiss at Midnight (Hardcover)
I love EJ. I have read everything she has written thus far, and started her fairytale series two weeks ago. I finished this [A Kiss at Midnight] two days ago. I read through it pretty quickly, and did find myself interested in the plot, characters, wit, and fun of it. I was not expecting this book to be historically accurate or the language to be perfect either. She states as much in her notes at the end of the book. When I want a serious romance I read Jane Austen (or another author of the same ilk), when I want some hanky-panky I go for EJ. I read this book in the spirit it was intended, as a fun fictional romp in an imaginary land, in an imaginary time, (though the places mentioned are real, the details are not and I understood that).
Some of the characters were a bit wooden and under developed (Cherryderry, Mariana, and Toloose for example). Matter of fact i had a very hard time even remembering who the heck Toloose was and why on Earth a Russian princess would transfer her affections from Gabriel to him...I had to go back and re-read who the fella was! I did find the whole mention of the collection of animals (the elephant, monkey, lion etc) completely useless to the story in general. While cute, i found all the mention of the dogs annoying, but understandably since Ceasar was the cause of Victoria's not going with Algie to the Prince...i let it slide, although her condition [pregnancy out of wedlock] would have been reason enough for Katherine to have stepped in and gone in her place.
This story sort of reminded me of another EJ book, Duchess by Night, which involved a character pretending to be someone other than who she was. In that book she was disguised as a young man, while in this [A Kiss at Midnight] Kate was disguised as her half sister.
It was written over and over again how Kate was 'not attractive, plain, overly tanned, gaunt, skinny, boney, weak-looking, etc' that it was hard to believe ANYONE in the book would mistake her for her softer, lighter skinned, voluptuous, younger half sister. Obvoiusly this point was stated again and again by other characters and explained away as an illness, but i felt at times that it was driven home to the point of annoyance, trying desperately to make the reader believe it too.
I don't much care for cocky characters who push themselves onto the heroine, and then the heroine responding to it in the positive, it's just too cliche. As if being insulted and treated like a piece of meat by a man is attractive or wanted by the whole of feminine society. it's not...i do like a bit of the obnoxious pairings find each other irresistable in the end type of story, but the forcing of affection is tantamount to molestation/harassment!

other than the rapid pace of the "seduction" (that felt more like harassment to me and the breaking of Kate's resolve than romance), it wasn't half bad. So while i cannot rate this as a "wonderful" book if it was based in some form of historical romance, i can rate it slightly higher because of the fanciful way of the story as a true fairytale, (I find most fairytales unbelievable and A Kiss at Midnight is absolutely an unbelievable story!). I will remain open to the following books in her fairytale remake series, but i wont (can't) take them as seriously as some of her others. She does however gain bonus points (i wish i could give half stars, for this would have been a 3 1/2 for me), for not jamming this book full of endless characters and secondary plots and stories like she has done in past books, which made for some very confusing and under developed stories! (An Affair before Christmas is a great example of too much side story, not enough main story MEAT). all-in-all i would recommend this to someone new to romance novels, simply because it's a simple story, with simple language and not overly detailed about time periods or dress, so someone unfamilar w/the regency era (or ANY era other than their own for that matter) wouldn't have a hard time following the story here.
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