A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James
Sometimes when you kiss a prince they turn into a snake.
I've read some rave reviews on A Kiss at Midnight and I have to ask myself...what's wrong with me? Everybody else likes this story, so why don't I? Am I in a mood? Well, maybe. You see, I'm not really keen on fairy tale stories and this is a Cinderella story with Ms. James' slant on it. And, if you haven't figured it out by now, "the character in disguise" plot is one of my many pet peeves. And by golly, we have a disguised heroine in this story.
Kate/Cinderella is disguised as her step/half sister, the plump Victoria, because her step/half sister plump Victoria has an infected lip because her dog Caesar bit her and she can't go to the Prince's ball because of that lip and she must go to the ball because she's pregnant and she must marry the Prince's dim-witted nephew, so Kate/Cinderella must pretend to be her so the prince will give plump step/half sister Victoria and dim-witted nephew permission to marry. So, even though she and her sister don't look alike, if Kate/Cinderella wears plump Victoria's purple, green and yellow wigs, no one will be the wiser.
Except, the snake - uh, Prince Gabriel - he catches on pretty much right away that the skinny girl isn't really the plump beauty who was the talk of the season. The snake - uh, the prince - wants Kate/Cinderella badly, even though the reason for his ball is that he is going to become betrothed to a Russian princess, Tatiana, because she has money and he needs money because he has alllll of these loony people living with him at his castle because his e-v-i-l brother kicked everyone out of the fake country and now he's poor so he must marry money; he must, he must, he must!
But even with all of that gyrating going on in this book, I might have liked it...except for the amazing tick-me-off moment. Yes, let me tell you about THE scene; the snake - uh, prince hides Kate/Cinderella in his bedroom and goes down to meet the Russian Tatiana. They eat, they talk, she's nice... then back to his bedroom for a some hot hanky-panky with Kate/Cinderella, then down to the Russian Tatiana for a dance, a waltz, then back to his room for some hot deflowering of Kate/Cinderella, then down to announce his engagement. The snake has the nerve to tell Kate/Cinderella during the wonderful, better-than-ever-deflowering that other women have told him his willy is too big.
So, I didn't like Gabriel. I must have skipped over the moment in the book where he became infatuated with Kate/Cinderella, because I never saw it or any chemistry at all between these two. The Russian Princess Tatiana was a nice person, so Gabriel's shenanigans were an insult to both her and Kate/Cinderella. Plus, all through the book we hear how much Kate/Cinderella wants a man who can be true to her, so what does she do? She must have Gabriel at least once before he gets married. I guess it's ok to boink someone if you've never been formally introduced to their intended. And she has the nerve to continually whine about her father's morals (oh, I forgot - plump half/step sister Victoria is actually the illegitimate offspring of Kate/Cinderella's philandering father).
Normally, I'm a big Eloisa James fan, but I was disappointed in this book. What I have come to expect from Ms. James is a lot of well-grounded characters that are featured throughout numerous books in a series. Through those series, we come to know them. However, I never felt I knew these people.
While this book is not part of a series it is part of a fairy tale theme that continues on February 2011 with When Beauty Tamed the Beast. I am keeping my fingers crossed.
Time/Place: 18something England
Sensuality Rating: Hot