Midnight Scandals Anthology
Released: August 28, 2012
Reviewed by Mandi
One Starlit Night by Carolyn Jewel
Viscount Northword or Crispin is back home after ten years. Much has changed, especially his relationship with his childhood friend and lover, Portia Temple. Years and years ago, they fell in love, but they had some dark days together, as often young people do, and had a bad break. Crispin went on to leave and marry someone else, while Portia has been stuck in her small town, living with her brother and his wife Eleanor. Eleanor wants great things for Portia – London, fancy gowns, and a husband that will further her husband’s career. Portia just wants out of her brother’s house, and has decided to marry a local man, even though it is not a love match. But now Crispin is back, and seeing him makes them both realize, the past can’t be forgotten.
This is a story of two people who loved each other so much, but had so much hurt between them for the past ten years that it is too scary and too hard to think of ever having that love again. They are now ten years older, and wiser and while they set out just to be acquaintances, the attraction between them can’t be ignored. Carolyn Jewel writes the best sexual tension and romance scenes. So sensual and always wicked. Portia is so unhappy in her life, that it takes a great deal of effort on Crispin’s part to show her how to be happy again. They have so much history together, some memories so good, some memories so devastating. But they slowly work through them, and Crispin finally convinces Portia to take another chance. Really well done romance. Rating: B+
What Happened at Midnight by Courtney Milan
Mary Chartley’s father embezzled money from his partnership and then took his life. And now his partners want to be paid. While some of the partners are threatening Mary harm, the youngest partner John Mason comes on the scene and demands at least a little respect for Mary. They met because of this partnership, and have been courting. But John really needs his investment back, needing the money to support his young nephew who lost his father. John is certain Mary must know what her father did with the money, but she refuses to speak. With nothing left to do, they part ways.
Eighteen months later, John by chance hears from someone that Mary is now a lady’s companion in Doyle’s Grange. He heads up there to confront her again about the missing money, but he finds a different Mary. This Mary is working for a man who is imprisoning his wife and Mary. She is not being paid, and is living in forced isolation. As he starts to learn the truth about the embezzlement, John and Mary start a new friendship, and a plan to escape the man she works for.
Courtney Milan writes a novella with such a different feel. John is an expert at drainage fields, and finds himself outside, tackling problems and finding solutions. Mary is in a prison of sorts, while she is not being physically abused, she is not getting a salary, and she can’t leave the house. The oppressiveness of their situation is really intense. And while John is protective of her, he is also not the alpha, growly type so it takes a little time for him to analyze everything.. He soon learns the truth about the missing money and that Mary is desperate for a friend. I like how their relationship is mended and trust slowly builds. This novella takes place years after Carolyn Jewel’s but set in the same world. We see the characters briefly from her novella here and the crossover.works nicely.
This one isn’t as sensual as Carolyn Jewel’s installment, but I found it romantic nonetheless. Rating: B
A Dance in Moonlight by Sherry Thomas
Taking place right where Ravishing the Heiress ends, Isabelle is heart broken over losing not only her husband in India, but then a second chance at love with Lord Fitzhugh. By chance she meets Fitzwilliam, who not only shares the name of ‘Fitz’ but looks exactly like him. So much so, Isabelle kisses him thinking it is the Fitz that just broke her heart. The new Fitz also lost his wife, so as the two of them start to talk, Isabelle realizes she has a lot in common with the new Fitz, even if he does remind her so much of the man she lost.
I didn’t like this contribution. I didn’t like that the new Fitz resembles the old Fitz so much. It just felt weird. This is a super short story, and not enough time is spent to give us a believable love story. This feels almost like an extended epilogue to Ravishing the Heiress with a quick love story thrown in, rather than Isabelle and Fitz’s story. Didn’t work very well for me. Rating: C-