Meet the Earl at Midnight (Midnight Meetings #1) by Gina Conkle

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It’s going to take a Beast to tame this Beauty

The Enigma Earl. The Lord Phantom. That’s what the gossip pages call Lord Sandford, a mysterious nobleman who doesn’t show his face in London Society. With a reputation like that, it’s no wonder that Lydia Montgomery is horrified to be dragged from bed and packed off to live with him to save her mother from penury.

While Lydia has received all of the training a lady should endure, she’s decidedly un-ladylike. She despises her corset and isn’t interested in marriage; in fact, she would prefer to remain single so that she can spend her time improving her art. But if she wants a chance at happiness, she’ll have to set aside her fear of Lord Sandford and discover the man hiding behind the beast.

Publisher and Release Date: Sourcebooks Casablanca, May 2014
RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Georgian Era
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer Rating: 3 stars

Review by Lizzie English

A Georgian retelling of Beauty and the Beast —

The mysterious Earl of Greenwich, Edward, is a recluse who spends more time on science than he does in society. In order to sire an heir he agrees to forget stolen debts from Lydia’s step-father and brother in order to marry her. The Earl is a likeable character; he focuses more on science and what grows in his greenhouse than anything that happens within London. The reader can see where he’s coming from and why he would essentially trade for a lady’s womb. With his face scarred horribly from an encounter with pirates, he shies away from women after being scorned by his ex-fiancée.

Lydia is a herone it takes a while to like. In fact, it wasn’t until almost the end of the book that she acquires any redeeming qualities. She spies on the earl searches through his rooms, runs into the private domain of his greenhouse and generally snoops around him and whoever he happens to be around. She thinks she’s justified, but it seems petty. All she does is bicker with Edward. I’m sure it’s meant to be a type of foreplay but it just comes off as repetitive and boring.

Her one redeeming quality is that she is dedicated to her painting. All she wants is to be known for her work, but to become a Countess she must decide if she can put her painting aside. Lydia gets very jealous over Edward and any of his attachments; she even wants his housekeeper dismissed just because she thinks she is Edward’s mistress.

The trouble really arrives when Edward’s mother – Lady Elizabeth – shows up to stop the betrothal and wedding. She thinks that Lydia, with her common ways and her artistic aspirations, are too lowly for her son. Lydia stands up to her, but does nothing but embarrass herself with her crass behaviour. They soon join up however in order to attain a mutual goal, but having Lydia team up with her mother-in-law makes her seem even more selfish than previously and made me dislike her even more.

Throughout the novel, Edward is the peacekeeper between the two ladies and is the most realistic character. In fact, although Edward is the one with the scars, it seems as though Lydia could be the “beast” in the story. Edward changes the most and makes the biggest sacrifice in order to have the life that he wants. The reader can see Edward falling in love with Lydia but you don’t really see the same for her.

The romance takes a while to get to, and the pacing is slow as more and more conflicts emerge for Lydia to overcome. The ending is worthwhile though, as it shows how much Edward cares for Lydia and how much she has come to care for him.

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