Review: A Midnight Dance by Lila DiPasqua

Tuesday, August 2

Title:  A Midnight Dance*
Author: Lila DiPasqua
Series: Fiery Tales #3 (but is a standalone)
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Berkley Sensation (Penguin USA)
Format: Trade paperback & ebook
Date/Year: August 2, 2011
Reviewed by: Booklover1335

*This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review

Summary from the publisher:

Inspired by the tale of Cinderella, Lila DiPasqua weaves a steamy historical romance that offers a glass slipper, a dangerous deception, and an impoverished beauty determined to find her handsome prince…and make him pay.

Born into wealth, Sabine Laurent and her twin sister lived a life of luxury, their father’s prestigious theater frequented by royalty and aristocracy alike. And Sabine dreamed of her own prince charming—the devastatingly handsome Jules de Moutier.

That was before the loss of her sister and her family’s fall from grace—a disaster Sabine blames on the Moutier family. Now, with her father’s death, she’s inherited his sizable debt and the responsibility of caring for his spoiled long-time mistress and her two wastrel daughters. But with the help of Sabine’s eccentric friends—the balance of her father’s acting troupe—she plans to get very close to her old infatuation, seduce the rake—and make away with a fortune. 

Resisting Jules’s skillful mouth and tantalizing touch is not as easy as Sabine supposed. And soon she must decide whether her desire for vengeance is greater than her desire for her one and only prince…

My Musings:

I’ve been dying for this author to write a full length novel, considering with what she could do with a novella (The Lovely Duckling is my favorite from The Princess in His Bed), I had very high expectations, and for the most part A Midnight Dance lived up to those expectations.  It was captivating from the very first page.  You could feel and understand Sabine’s desperation to provide for her family and find her sister.  Her determination to do whatever it takes, the courage to go through with her plans even though the chances are slim that she will succeed, and  most certainly will lead to her ruin …possibly even her death.  But Sabine has very little left to loose except her reputation, and as a result she is willing to sacrifice her dreams of marriage, and the future of the man she used to love, to live.  Jules of course has other plans, and is equally determined to do whatever it takes to regain his birthright.

Jules Mourtier should have been a Marquis, living the life of an Aristo that he was proudly and arrogantly raised to be, but he has been stripped of his birthright because of his supposedly traitor father.  He’s spent the last few years of his life as a privateer (sanctioned pirate), and now that he has enough Spanish silver to buy back the lands he’s lost, he is ready to resume his titled life.  He’s ruthless, and just as desperate to prove his father was no traitor to the Crown...nothing is going to stop him from achieving his dream, including his feisty “forest fairy”, Sabine.

The attraction between Sabine and Jules is undeniable, and both act carelessly and somewhat foolishly in their need and desire for each other.  Their initial encounters are somewhat bittersweet for Sabine. On the one hand she gets to live out a fantasy with the man she once believed was her “Dark Prince” and in every way perfect.  On the other hand she is faced with the man who’s family was partly responsible for her family’s downfall, and is presented with the perfect means of exacting revenge by stealing his silver.  Sabine is presented with the harsh reality that the “Dark Prince” she dreamed of is instead an “Aristo” who doesn’t care about his people except for what they provide for him.  Jules on the other hand is presented with the illusion of an ethereal woman who is perfect in her passion.  All of his dreams of regaining the former glory of his family and all that entails is about to come true, and the same time that all of Sabine’s dreams meet the harsh light of day.  She is faced with the harsh realities of life, while Jules is living in a dream world.

The love scenes in A Midnight Dance are unbelievably hot.  I mean HOT.  There’s passion and desire, and tons of chemistry between the Jules and Sabine.  And when they aren’t fighting for their lives, and each other (because theirs is a love/hate relationship), they are making mad passionate love.  When it’s the two of them on the page, magic happens.

The first two thirds of the book is enchanting.  Everything about Jules and Sabine’s love story worked for me up until the point that they embark on a quest to find out who was behind the conspiracy that led to his father’s death, as well as finding the missing silver.  After that, I became less enchanted with this Fiery Tale for a few reasons.  Neither of which detracted from the story as a whole to completely ruin it... just tarnished it a bit.  During the last half of the book, I expected Sabine and Jules to really come to blows about the realities of who and what each of them finally get to the “meat” of the emotional battle (internal & external) of the book where each of them has to come to harsh realities of their different lives, as well as their similarities so that they could eventually fall in love despite the obstacles they faced.  To change, forgive, and discover.  That didn’t happen to the extent that I wish it would have.  If that would have happened it would have made this good book, a really really good romance.  Instead we are introduced to a serial killer out to have Sabine, and destroy Jules.  For me this whole plot was completely unnecessary to the story and actually was a distraction to the story.  The class difference was the only necessary villain in this love story so the introduction of an actual villain was unnecessary, at least in my opinion.  It’s not that this addition to the story wasn’t well written, because it was, and it definitely added excitement and suspense to the story, but I found myself almost skipping ahead to get back to Sabine and Jules to see how they would overcome their issues to finally be together.   It made a fairy tale, where the “Prince” defies convention to claim the woman he loves, into something less romantic because it lacked an emotional climax.

In the end I didn’t feel like I got the Cinderella happy ever after in Ms. DiPasqua‘s retelling of the story that I wanted, even though the hero and the heroine happily end up together, because of the addition of the villain as well as the choices the hero makes at the end .  True, it had all of the necessary Cinderella elements, the glass slipper, the step sisters, the Masquerade Ball, with a few nice twists to the story, but by the end…it just didn’t feel like a fairy tale “The End”.   To me,  the ending made it seem like Jules took the easy way out instead of living up to the responsibilities that he began the story with.  Instead of changing his views and trying to make a difference, he just leaves it all behind.  I found that a little bit hard to swallow after the many years sacrificed to attain his goals.  Especially since it didn’t really seem like his beliefs had changed all that much.  Granted, he basically gives up everything to get the girl, but the choices he made made it seem to me like Sabine would never be good enough for his world, hence the choices he made.  And that cheapened their happily ever after for me just a bit.  What would have made it better for me was if Jules became an enlightened Aristo because of Sabine…and that she got the fairy tale she dreamed with her Dark Prince, but with the knowledge of a woman who knows what the people that depend on them go through on a daily basis.  Then again the French Revolution is on it’s way in their future, so who knows….

As I said before, I’ve been waiting for Ms. DiPasqua to finally write a full length novel since first reading her novella anthologies, each of which contained stories that I just absolutely loved.  And at the beginning, A Midnight Dance was fully living up to all of my expectations.   It was magical, with witty and smart characters, great dialogue, an interesting conflict for each of the main characters to overcome, as well as the sensual love scenes that were hot, passionate and intense that the author has become known for.  But by the end I can only say that I enjoyed it...but I could have LOVED it if it would have had more emotional depth and less killer/mystery.  That being said, I am a big fan of this author, and I am most definitely looking forward to her next book.  I have a feeling that A Midnight Dance will be as much a lucky glass slipper to Ms. DiPasqua as it was for her heroine Sabine.


Overall: 4.00
Sensuality level: 3.75 (this historical romance is in between a very hot traditional romance and an erotic romance, but I would hesitate to classify it specifically as an erotic romance)

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Anonymous,  August 4, 2011 at 2:31 PM  

I too have been waiting for this book.
Thank you for the review. In some cases, less is more and it sounds that in this case, it is true of the plot.

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