LOCATING HER IS ONLY HALF THE BATTLE
Cyrus Ryland didn’t become England’s wealthiest bachelor by being a pushover, but the mysterious beauty he discovers sneaking around at his grand ball enflames his curiosity. When the clock chimes midnight and she’s nowhere to be found, Cyrus vows to scour all of London to uncover who she is. Little does he know that not only does Claire Mayhew not want to be found, but she wants nothing to do with him at all…
Praise for Meet the Earl at Midnight:
“A refreshing Georgian spin on Beauty and the Beast.”—Grace Burrowes, New York Times bestselling author of The Captive
“Delightful… [Conkle’s] fresh, vibrant voice shines through…in a story where the simmering sexual tension builds to the perfect climax.”—RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars
Gina Conkle has used a Cinderella-like story, mixed in non-titled people and brought us to London
Gina Conkle has used a Cinderella-like story, mixed in non-titled people and brought us to London in this unique historical romance.
Claire is a middle class woman, determined to make a success of a business of her very own. Unfortunately, the owner of the property she wishes to rent is completely unwilling to rent to a woman. Cyrus is an up and coming ‘king of industry’ with some utterly archaic ideas. His refusal to believe that a woman can succeed in business, and his unwillingness to consider that as an option make him a bit difficult to deal with at first.
Claire will not accede to Cyrus’ demands for a male signatory for the lease agreement, so she decides to attend a masked ball held at Cyrus’ house, to snoop in his office and obtain a signature. When she disappears just before the unmasking, leaving only her first name and her shoe, Cyrus is intrigued.
The two enter into a tentative dance as they get to know one another. While Cyrus isn’t certain of the motivations behind his interest, Clare is utterly convinced that she doesn’t want an entanglement. And she is very honest and vocal about her past and desires, something totally unusual for Cyrus. And, with the discovery of a dark secret that Cyrus holds, the balance of power certainly shifts…
While the plot was clever and I really enjoyed the characters, the frequent lapses into flowery prose did leave the storytelling feeling a bit forced and tortured on occasion. Whether this was an homage to the fairy tale genesis of the story, a sort of nod to the style of many of the stories or just a writing device not particularly well integrated I’m not completely certain. But, despite those lapses, there was enough interest in both Claire and Cyrus as they maneuvered in their relationship to keep me intrigued and reading along.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
The nobility isn’t the focus for a change
This is a period of England’s history I seldom visit—earlier than Heyer’s Georgians, but after Culloden, about which I was reading decades before Diana Gabaldon started writing fiction, because folk ballads led me there. A lot of the background takes place in the midlands, often ignored in romances written by Americans.
I enjoyed the mangling of the Churchills’ timeline, but the book lost one star for poor research shown in the first half or so. I very much enjoyed the main characters. No TSTLs, no BMs (that’s big misunderstandings to you), a generally good knowledge of the few years and the social strata in which the story occurs.
It is not just this author:
I don’t know what it is, but most people writing about spirits in England don’t seem to know that until the mid-19th C. (malt) whisky—not America’s whiskey—in your cabinet meant having contact with family or good friends IN Scotland, because it wasn’t acceptable or easily accessible in England. It wasn’t seen as refined at all: brandy, Cognac, Armagnac, madeira, port—those were.
I admit to researching what I love. Now pour me some Bowmore—can’t decide between the 1962 or the 1964 bottling.
In spite of any minus notes here, I’ll give another novel a try. I did like the writing, the restraint with sex scenes, the sense and humor of the characters, and character denouement.