Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Cinderella Week: A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James

The Basics:

A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James

Book One in the Fairy Tales series
Historical Romance
Published July 27, 2010 
Source: Purchased paperback
Amazon Kobo Goodreads

Cinderella Week:

I'm a fan of James so it was with great pleasure that I selected this one for Cinderella week!

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 fiancĂ©e, 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.
My thoughts:

With a wicked stepmother who treats Kate like a servant, 'glass' slippers, a godmother who helps Kate blossom, a prince and a ball, A Kiss at Midnight is definitely a five Glass Slippers kind of book. There are enough twists and turns to keep the story feeling fresh and new, but enough of the tropes from the Cinderella story sneak in to make this a welcome adaptation.

My favourite component of A Kiss at Midnight is that Gabriel and Kate are both so aware of their circumstances in that they're not really able to wed. Gabriel recognizes his duty to support the family members and castle, needing to marry a wealthy bride. Kate acknowledges that she simply does not have the dowry that Gabriel needs. The tension between their attraction and their duty/respect for duty is delightful and makes for really believable conflict.

I do think that the blurb is a little misleading - Gabriel doesn't meet his fiancee until the second half of the book. It's great that she's not turned into a last-minute villain to make his decision any easier, but she also doesn't have a huge presence in the book beyond the concept of her existence.

Otherwise, I liked that Gabriel is this mix of dutiful and selfish. When the attraction between Kate and Gabriel flares, given that they both realize it can go no where, it seemed to me that the responsible thing would be to start avoiding each other right away. Instead, Gabriel in particular is greedy to store away moments, and that struck me as both a strength and weakness in his character that I found immensely frustrating and appealing.  

The book is packed full of different little plot twists, from exploring secret gardens to floating light displays to a subplot featuring a nasty man who had maligned one of the other female guests, and I found it all added colour to the story, fleshing it out into something that was more than simply a re-imagining of Cinderella. There was only one thing that didn't really work for me, and that was the night of the first ball, which seemed like poor timing and bad judgement all around.

There's a big cast of secondary characters in this book - from Gabriel's brother Wick (who features in a novella later in the series) to Kate's stepsister Victoria and her fiance Algie, Kate's godmother, a trio of dogs and a handful of other guests on hand to keep things interesting. The book ably conveyed the sense that the castle was bustling!

Bottom line:

A Kiss at Midnight is an entertaining re-imagining of the Cinderella fairytale, in which Kate (as Cinderella) has much more agency and grit than Cinderella has in most of the traditional versions (I think - admittedly, I'm not an expert.

4 stars
For fans of Eloisa James, historical romance, princes

But don't just take my word for it! I grabbed a few links to other blog reviews of A Kiss at Midnight:

All About Romance

Smart Bitches Trashy Books

Mrs Giggles

Dear Author


  1. I love that you are having a Cinderella week. This wasn't my favorite book but Eloisa is such a good writer (plus I think it was a personal pet peeve and authors can't write towards my pet peeves LOL)

  2. Oh I love the sound of Gabriel and Kate.