Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Unwrapping: Guest Review of A KISS AT MIDNIGHT by Eloisa James

I'm delighted to have a Guest Reviewer today. My Guest is Stephanie Tracy of THE TUDOR ENTHUSIAST, a wonderful website and blog dedicated to all things TUDOR and one you should all check out especially if you follow The Tudor Series. I'm going to turn over today's post to young Stephanie because she told me that she was reading A KISS AT MIDNIGHT by Eloisa James and loving it - so I asked her if she'd like to review it for me and she graciously agreed. I hope you enjoy her review and visit her wonderful and amazing website, THE TUDOR ENTHUSIAST, she's running a contest there to celebrate her 1st anniversary. Congratulations Stephanie and thank you for a lovely review of A KISS AT MIDNIGHT by Eloisa James.

Blurb for A KISS AT MIDNIGHT:

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 fiancé, 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 Eloisa James’ “How Beauty Tamed the Beast” (which is actually #2 in her Fairy Tales series – whoops!), I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the first novel in the series, “A Kiss at Midnight” – James’ Cinderella-inspired Victorian romance. I had been [so] completely captured by her witty and romantic writing style when reading the first book, that I just knew this one was going to be a treat also. I think it took me about three days to read – I couldn’t keep my nose out of it, even while at work!
By the end of the book I was really having trouble putting it down, but if I’m being completely honest, the beginning did not hold me the same way. The character development took a while and was a bit slow, but once I got over that hump (about halfway through) it was a fast-paced, sweet, emotional journey of two characters who are both struggling in their own ways.
Katherine Daltry is the ‘Cinderella’ character in the story, and without giving anything away, I have to say I’m impressed with the way James tied in the whole evil stepmother/stepsisters storyline – very clever and appropriate for the time-period. Kate is not quite as ‘tortured’ as the classic Cinderella we all know and love, but she still fits the mold quite well. Her main struggle throughout the story is a lack of self-confidence. She is not conventionally beautiful, she is too thin, and feels like she will always be overshadowed by the beautiful, desirable women of high society.
The Prince, on the other hand, named Gabriel, has no lack of self-confidence. In fact, he is the pompous, arrogant, painfully handsome Prince that Kate has always imagined – and she is not impressed by him. Gabriel doesn’t seem to be struggling at all when we first meet him, but he eventually discovers that he is bound by the expectations and obligations for a Prince, when he really wants to be free to love whomever he wishes. With an impending betrothal to a Russian Princess (the perfect wife for him), he feels for the first time the pang of forbidden love when he meets Kate – a woman who couldn’t be farther from the ideal match for himself.
As I said, the beginning is a bit slow-going, so if I had to pick something that I didn’t like about the book, that would be it. Although Eloisa James’ writing style is consistently clever and witty, this first part of the book just lingers a bit too long. Once the introductions are over and the reader gets a good feel for the characters, the book really takes off – and THEN it gets fun! The passion between Gabriel and Kate is wonderful! You can feel their attraction to each other and the bits of romantic conversation, sweet kisses, and secret meetings are enough to make the reader subconsciously smile while reading. I have to admit that there were a few instances while reading when I actually said “Aww” out loud! Gabriel, while at first being the self-righteous Prince who is anything but Charming, soon turns into a sweet and sexy romantic lead that even the reader will fall in love with –  if I can fall in love with the male lead in a romance novel, I know it was a good book.
Overall, I think I would still have to say I like the overall storyline and characters in “How Beauty Tamed the Beast” better, but I will still highly recommend this book to any lover of romance fiction and fairy tale love stories. Being a huge Disney fan myself, I pounced on these books, and plan to inhale the rest of James’ Fairy Tale series as I can. If you’re a fan of classic happily-ever-afters and books that put that warm, happy feeling in your heart, you’ll enjoy this one.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
         My name is Stephanie Tracy - I am a twenty year-old college student at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. I've grown up right outside of Washington D.C., and I've always been a huge fan of the history surrounding where I live. Currently, I am finishing up my sophomore year at GMU - I am working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, and I also have a History minor (just for fun). I can't quite remember what triggered my undying love for the Tudor period, but when I think back on it, I believe it started when I was about 15 - at the same time the movie "The Other Boleyn Girl" came out in theaters. Although I had heard of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII before, I knew very little about their time period, but I remember walking away from that movie completely in love (and in tears). It was around then that I started picking up Tudor-era novels - starting with Philippa Gregory's, of course. (Thank you, Philippa!) As soon as I finished her Tudor series, I moved onto other well-known historical fiction novelists, such as Jean Plaidy, Kate Emerson, Diane Haeger, and Robin Maxwell...and the love grew! Soon, I was learning so much about the people and events through these novels, that I moved onto nonfiction - the potentially boring and difficult-to-read stuff - and my interest only grew more! I would like to thank Alison Weir and Elizabeth Norton for providing me with such great details and facts about the Tudors, and I think it would be impossible to grow bored while reading their books. However, books and movies could only last so long, and once I was finished with them I found myself still thirsting for more. So, I did what any self-proclaiming history nerd would do - I started spending my free time researching the Tudors. Every chance I got, I would sit down at the computer and google a name - then read virtually everything I could find until I felt I had a good grasp on the person, place, or event. Pretty soon, it became something I could talk about all the time (to anyone who would listen), and my friends and family would sometimes humor me with questions and discussions about the Tudors. This love for the Tudor Dynasty has only grown more and more for the past 5 (or so) years, and I don't see it ending any time soon! In fact, I've begun entertaining the idea of pursuing a career involving history - maybe as a professor, author, or historian. The possibilities are endless when you love this stuff as much as I do! I took that first step in July of last year when I thought I might like to manage a blog...and that blog became a website! I'm having a fantastic time with it.
         Right now, I'm preparing to study abroad at the University of Oxford for my junior year of college - starting in late August. I will be there for eight months studying the Tudors - taking part in independent research tutorials such as "The Tudor and Early Stuart Dynasty," "The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn," "The Six Wives of Henry VIII," and "The Tower of London During Tudor Times." Since I wrote and created all of these tutorials, I cannot wait to get started, as well as to travel around the country and see as many Tudor sites as possible! I will certainly be blogging about my experiences while I am there!
        I am also in the planning stages of my (hopeful) first Tudor novel - I'll share more details of that as it progresses!
        So, while my knowledge and love for the Tudors grows, I will continue to share it. I will keep posting interesting links or news that I find on the homepage of my website, and of course, I will always blog about whatever comes to my mind!

A note from Amy:  I'd like to thank Stephanie, again, for a lovely review of A KISS AT MIDNIGHT by Eloisa James and wish her the best of luck and enjoyment of her time at Oxford. I hope you all enjoyed Stephanie's review and appreciate her enthusiasm. I know I do.

Happy Reading Everyone!!

A KISS AT MIDNIGHT by Eloisa James, Harper Collins, available now in various print formats, ebook and audio formats - release date was July 27, 2010.



                                                                 


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