Meet the Earl at Midnight by Gina Conkle

June 20, 2014
Lydia oh Lydia, say have you met Lydia,
Lydia, the Tattooed Lady.
She has eyes that folks adore so,
And a torso even more so.

Lydia oh Lydia, that encyclopedia,
Oh Lydia the Queen of Tattoo.
On her back is the Battle of Waterloo.
Beside it The Wreck of the Hesperus, too.
And proudly above waves the Red, White, and Blue,
You can learn a lot from Lydia."
Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg
No, there are no tattooed ladies in this book, but there is a Lydia.  In fact, it's the second heroine in a row I've read with that name; which turned out to be confusing to my beleaguered brain.  I had to go back and check to make sure I had the correct name and all of a sudden I found myself singing an old Groucho Marx song.  Thanks Lydia.

And thanks to a friend at work who said "I have a book for you to read."  (Oh no...not a recommendation!  Oh the pressure!)  She said "Go ahead, take a chance."  She did feel the need to warn me about numerous anachronisms in the book.  (Oh no, a recommendation with anachronisms!!!)  Oh well, if I can get through a Julia Quinn I can get through Meet the Earl at Midnight by Gina Conkle.  For some reason, I thought this was her debut novel, but it seems Ms. Conkle also has a Viking series she's writing.  Meet the Earl at Midnight is the first in the Midnight Meeting series and it isn't Regency but a Georgian, so the skirts are harder to handle.

Meet the Earl at Midnight
is a Beauty and the Beast story.  Lydia our strong-willed heroine is the sacrificial bride to Edward, our recluse hero.  He's a recluse because of a number of things. First of all, he likes plants better than people and he's got a giant scar on half of his face from a fire.  His last fiancĂ©e ran away from him in fear, so he's not taking any chances this time.  He's blackmailing his newest choice into wedded bliss.  Edward mistakenly believes that Lydia has agreed to the marriage; for some reason he believed Lydia's father.  I'm not sure why, because it is very obvious that her father and her brother are not the most trustworthy people in the world.  But after the first initial shock of seeing his face Lydia agrees to marriage.  So, Lydia and Edward are off to his castle.  And, there they start stepping on each other’s toes.

Lydia and Edward were an interesting couple to watch maneuver through romance.  They were actually quite honest with each other, told each other what they wanted and set up parameters.  Of course, a lot of these parameters were ignored, mostly by Lydia.  Lydia pushed her way into all of Edward's sanctuaries, just wouldn't leave him to his peace.  What eventually struck me about this couple was I could see Edward falling in love more than I could Lydia.  I have nothing against self-centered people; after all that's what we are - self.  However, I was a little disappointed that it took her so long to get past her ego to see what a really nice guy Edward the gruff was.  I did like Edward a lot, even though he was supposed to be an Alpha kind of guy; I think I would classify him as a Beta hero.  It was always Edward who was the one who seemed to be more easily hurt. 

Speaking of pain.  We have another contender for the Mommie Dearest award in Edward's mother.  What a truly horrendous woman.  She sloops down on Edward and Lydia like a big black spider with wings.  She does everything she can to make Lydia's life horrible, and she's not sneaky about it - she's a in-your-face kind of woman.  However, we must not forget that Lydia is a spunky heroine - she a in-your-face kind of woman also.  In the end Lydia won the war.

I must say that I found Meet the Earl at Midnight charming, humorous and worth the stumbling through the anachronisms.  The hero even says "you're in my space."  Hey, what do I know, maybe they said that in the Georgian time period, although I suspect they didn't.  Anyway, there were some minor hiccups that irritated me - interrupted love scenes.  While I don't mind one or two interrupted kiss/petting/bed sport scenes - servants walking in, tables breaking, mother's showing up - when it happens in every single sensual moment it becomes a distraction.  I'm assuming that those interruptions were to build sexual tension, but they were not needed because the tension was being built without them.  After the first two, I found the rest annoying.  The other hiccup I noticed was the abrupt jerks from one setting to another.  There were a couple of times I had to go back and reread the previous paragraph because I became lost.

Even though there were some hiccups and anachronisms, I found the story entertaining and I will be reading more of Gina Conkle.  Thanks for the recommendation.  This is for you…

“Oh Lydia, oh Lydia that encyclopedia,
Oh Lydia the champ of them all.
She once swept an Admiral clear off his feet.
The ships on her hips made his heart skip a beat.
And now the old boy's in command of the fleet,
For he went and married Lydia.”

Time/Place: Georgian England
Sensuality: Warm 

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