RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: A Rake’s Midnight Kiss by Anna Campbell

B

Title: A Rake's Midnight Kiss
Author: Anna Campbell
Publication Info: Forever August 2013
ISBN: 978-1455512102
Genre: Historical: European

Book A Rake's Midnight Kiss This RITA® Reader Challenge 2014 review was written by Heather C. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Historical Romance category.

The summary:

IT TAKES A LADY

Brilliant scholar Genevieve Barrett's secret identity as the author of her father's articles is her greatest deception-until her father's handsome new student arrives on their doorstep. Genevieve recognizes him as the masked intruder who earlier tried to steal a priceless gem from their home. Keeping the seductive stranger's identity hidden is a risk, but she's got secrets of her own to keep.

TO CATCH A THIEF

Sir Richard Harmsworth fakes a rakish facade to show society that he doesn't care about his bastard status. Yet haunted by his unknown father's identity, Richard believes the Harmsworth Jewel will prove he's the rightful heir. Intent on seducing the stone away from its owner, Richard finds himself face-to-face with a beauty more breathtaking than any jewel. But even as she steals Richard's heart, Genevieve will be in greater danger than her coveted treasure . . .

And here is Heather C.'s review:

I remain indecisive about this book.  It definitely wasn’t cringe-worthy or anything, but it has some major plot weakness, namely, the entire basis of the story.  Fortunately, I stopped caring about the questions that weren’t being answered about halfway through because the dialogue between the main characters positively crackles.

Sir Richard Harmsworth is not the natural child of his now-deceased father and everyone has known it all his life.  He was acknowledged as the heir and inherited the title, but Campbell conveys his weariness of trying to gain the acceptance of society while his mother rather notoriously cavorts around town.

Here’s where I get lost.  Apparently there’s this thing called the Harmsworth Jewel and it affirms the succession of the title.  So he wants to get it.  So that he can prove he’s the rightful heir.  But technically he’s not.  So why does having a jewel help?  Well, I’m not sure, but Richard feels SUPER STRONG about it:

He’d find the deuced Harmsworth Jewel and he’d turn the gewgaw into a pin for his neck cloth. He’d brandish it beneath the ton’s noses like a banner of war until they admitted that while he mightn’t be the right Harmsworth, he was the only Harmsworth they were going to get. Then let any man call him bastard.

So this is his motivation. 

I WONDER IF HE WILL COME TO DESIRE SOMETHING MORE ALONG THE WAY. (Spoiler alert: yes).

Meanwhile, Genevieve Barrett is the bluestocking daughter of a noted scholar vicar… but she has been ghostwriting for his entire career.  She also happens to possess the Harmsworth Jewel and has refused to sell it to any of Richard’s agents.  So naturally he decides to come to her small village, disguise himself, go by the name Christopher Evans, stay in the vicarage under the guise of scholarship, and try to seduce it away from her.  So he sounds likeable.

I really muddled through for a while.  Richard/Christopher thinks Genevieve is hot and a challenge and he’s kind of a dick about it.  She thinks he’s a liar right off the bat, but doesn’t know why.  No seriously.  A woman raised in a small town doing scholarly work is apparently able to read people intuitively, because, “The moment he’d spoken, her heart had known him for a liar.”  HOW?

So here’s where I checked out for a bit and went into a “where-are-we-going-with-this” spiral.  Richard/Christopher is just flirting around the vicarage and visiting his nearby friend, Cam (star of the next book in the series, I presume), who keeps telling him, “This is a bad idea, bro,” and Genevieve is stymied by how she can completely mistrust the new guy but still want to see him naked.  No one has explained why the fuck this jewel is so important yet but Genevieve is apparently studying it and knows a SECRET THAT WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING.  Meanwhile, she’s being pursued by Lord Neville, her father’s patron, who’s old and gross and domineering but her dad is all “Hey, someone to take care of you, you old spinster!  Be nice.”

So I’m mired in this apathy for everyone and then something wonderful happens:

Richard/Christopher and Genevieve stop circling each other and trying to make each other out.  He decides jewel or no jewel he wants to get under her skin and be around her.  She decides that he’s totes up to something but he’s hot so she’ll tolerate his presence.  Then, they start talking to each other (among other things) alone and it’s awesome.

Sample:

He shrugged. “I suffer the same malady. I recognize it in another.”

“I’d rather not refer to last night.”

A faint smile flirted with his lips. He glanced down to where his long fingers played with her silver letter opener. Sliding it left and right. Up and down. “So I imagine.”

“Then it never happened,” she said stiffly. Still he smiled. Still he moved the shining knife in casual patterns across the blotter. “It’s not that simple, Miss Barrett.”

The formal address mocked. Her hands fisted at her sides. How she longed to hit him. “Of course it is. A gentleman would—”

“You say I’m no gentleman.”

“Nor you are.”

Then she starts to see him defending her to her father and Lord Neville.  Taking pains to get to know villagers.  Praising her intelligence.  Talking to her like a human.  And Genevieve is 10,000% gone.  Done for.

And Richard/Christopher is not much better.  At a certain point, he basically decides fuck the jewel, which we still know basically nothing about, and now he’s just wracked with guilt about deceiving Genevieve about his name and true intentions.

But just when you think this will be the major source of romantic conflict, it isn’t.  Genevieve actually finds out way earlier than I expected.  And a few twists and turns later, rather than feeling utterly betrayed, she is coming to trust her instincts that Richard/Christopher—now just Richard—has been forthright with her when it counted and she trusts him to protect her.

So in the midst of her father not believing that Lord Neville is borderline evil, not supporting her dreams to be published under her own name, and not appreciating everything she does for him, Genevieve flourishes with Richard’s love.  Never fear, there’s uncertain feelings and more conflict and confrontation galore before this one wraps up.  By then end I was reading faster and faster, finally sucked into the romantic plot, if not the set-up.

We even learn the SECRET THAT WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING about the Harmsworth Jewel.  SPOILER (Highlight text to read): It’s fake.  How does Genevieve know?  What exactly happened to the real one?  Well, apparently we don’t give a crap because this is brought up and dropped and we move on and never address it again.  Which was a bummer.

So we don’t get closure on why we even started this damned adventure.  But we do get a charming and heartfelt proposal.  And an unexpected and heartbreaking encounter with Richard’s mom where he finally begins to mend his relationship with her.  And lots of steamy love scenes.  So overall, I have to say this delivers.


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  1. 1
    Sarita says:

    Fun review. “(spoilers: yes.)” made me giggle :)

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