Review – A Kiss at Midnight
  • Posted:
  • January 7, 2012
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And the first read of the new year is… Romance… jigga-buwah? I know, I know. I just lost all kinds of street cred.

Yes. I’m just as confused about it as all of you are. We all know that I am a genre girl. However, the pantheon of genre fiction writing is very different from one another. Some genres are infinitely more preferable to others. Example, love Fantasy but am hit or miss on traditional Science Fiction, yet I love Steampunk even though it’s largely Gaslight Romance with Jane Austen wannabe writers and characters… the current crop anyway. I love Dystopian but am growing weary of Dystopian-lite. You get the idea.

My problem with the Romance genre is usually this – We either get thrust (literally) into a sex scene right away and spend the entirety of the book wafting between rampant rutting sequences OR the titillation is uber chaste and we spend 350+ pages suspended in innuendo and foreplay.

This book is the latter of the two.

The truth of why I read this book is simple. I wanted to see how sex is crafted within a fairy tale retelling. This is pertinent to the secret project I have been working on the last month (which I revealed  a little about yesterday). I picked up Eloisa James because she’s a NYT bestselling author and (by everything I have seen online) this was supposed to be pretty decent for what it was. Let me just preface with this: I haven’t read a strict Romance title in over 20 years. I find them to be silly. I find myself rolling my eyes during the writing and facepalming to and fro. All of this happened during my reading of A Kiss at Midnight.

As for it being a “retelling of Cinderella”… well, I guess. If you must call it that. It’s one of the loosest adaptations of a fairy tale I have ever read. It kind of fails in achieving, well, anything close to the Charles Perrault version in tone (believe me, I’ve been rereading fairy tales like a mad-fiend-man). The Cinderella character, Kate, must travel to her stepsister’s finance’s uncle’s house to seek his approval for her sister and fiance’s engagement… but Kate must pretend to be Victoria, her dimwitted sister because, and here’s the nebulous part that lost me, Kate is more likely to convince him (the uncle, also a Prince) to allow for the engagement because she’s, well, Kate and not dimwitted Victoria. Apparently Victoria is too soppy to convince anyone of anything. Even me.

The Uncle, and Prince, turns out to be roguishly charming and fiendishly tempting and blah blah blah. The court and all  of its nobles turn out to be catty and shrewish and blah blah blah. Much of this book I spent wondering why I was still caring about this. It made me feel like an idiot. But, I did… because it’s 350+ of foreplay and after all of that teasing I had to consummate, well, something. It was a matter of pride if I didn’t at least read some sex at that point. Since I picked it up to initially… oh, I don’t know… read sex in the context of a fairy tale.

I am reminding viscerally why this genre doesn’t do much for me. That said, I finished it and it worked for my broken brain this week. Will I be reading anymore fluffy romances anytime soon… no. Am I glad that they are out there when secret projects otherwise eat my brain… yes. They do work for “must read/can’t read” sorbets.

Also: Kate arrives at the ball and suddenly no one recognizes her… even though they have spent the last week with her. She simply waltzes up, introduces herself as Kate instead of Victoria… and no one bats an eye. Really? Seriously? Am I supposed to presume that no one in this world has an ounce of wits at all? First you don’t question when Kate shows up as Victoria and doesn’t look like her and then it bothers no one that they both show up and their identities are accepted as gospel? Really? Is that a trope of the Romance genre that I am just supposed to readily accept? Dimwitted stupidity? Really?

3 out of 5 stars… just because I finished it. Begrudgingly. Hey, at least the cover is pretty.

– BP


Rachel Triska

2012-01-08 14:22:09 Reply

I really like faery-tale retellings….. there seems to be a lot of them lately! Romance, on the other hand, I save only for sic-days, when my brain won’t function enough to concentrate on a proper book.