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Genre: Historical Romance
Hero: Nicholas Blackthorne
Heroine: Citizeness Ghislaine de Lorgny
Date of Publication: February 28, 1993
Started On: January 18, 2014
Finished On: January 23, 2014
I picked up A Rose at Midnight by Anne Stuart in my attempt to make my way slowly back to earth, after riding the high of reading Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh. I tend to need some time to come to terms with the fact that I might not be able to come across a book that would give me such a high in the near future and most of the time is struck with the need to read a book from an author that would certainly entertain me if nothing else. And this historical set in the 1800’s did just that, in the end leaving me a bit contemplative too, which is something that tends to happen often after I finish reading an Anne Stuart romance.
Ghislaine de Lorgny’s mission in life for the past couple of years has been a simple one. She has been biding her time until she meets the man who would die at her hands, the man who turned his back on her and never looked back, the man who had broken her heart and let her be crushed in every single way left thereafter until the fire for revenge and need for vengeance had become what had kept Ghislaine going. Opportunity comes calling when the man himself comes to the home in which Ghislaine resides in, giving her the perfect chance to exact her revenge even if it means she’d have to leave the life that she’d made for herself in the past couple of years.
Nicholas Blackthorne is a man who possesses the blackest of reputations. With no scruples seemingly whatsoever, Nicholas lives his life as he pleases, the bleakness inside of his soul hidden by the depth of depravity that he shows to the rest of the world. When Ghislaine comes into his life once again, Nicholas does the unpredictable thing and carries her off with him, seemingly to teach her a lesson that she would never forget, all the while refusing to acknowledge just how much of his black soul is already possessed by the woman in question.
A Rose at Midnight might not be an easy read for some people, but then that is one reason why I love novels by Anne Stuart. There is a sensuality to her ruthless heroes that is indescribable, the way in which she can redeem even the most unlikely heroes one that always would keep me going back for more. Nicholas seemed like a hero who would never find his footing as someone who would redeem himself enough to win the affections of Ghislaine, but then Anne Stuart’s characters are hardly that straightforward and Nicholas was definitely no exception.
The life that Ghislaine had undergone during the uprising in France, the way she had lost her family and everything dear to her, not to mention how she had been defiled in the most vile manner while hatred had borne in her heart for the man who had been in the next room served to be reason enough for the rough and tough journey of the heart that Ghislaine takes towards love and peace of her soul. Acceptance of her feelings for the complex man that Nicholas is takes a lot of doing and I understood every single bit of turmoil, hatred, anger and deep sense of betrayal that she felt in the process. I would say that it would take a woman of immense courage to let go and embrace love, a love so fierce and powerful that even the darkness that had invaded her soul a long time back was no match for the sheer potency of it all.
I also loved the secondary romance tucked into this dark and gritty story which somehow seemed to lighten up the pages a bit. I loved Lady Ellen’s inquisitive, forward and at times clueless nature when it comes to the love of her life aka Honorable Sir Antony Wilton-Greening. Their courtship which takes place in their pursuit of Ghislaine and Nicholas seemed to make the darker emotions this novel seemed to generate easier to bear and I have to say I loved every single minute of their journey towards a beautiful and well deserved happily ever after.
Time and yet again, Anne Stuart astounds me with her creativity (even when I should know better by now), her characters and the way she unabashedly writes the best alpha heroes out there one that earns her the highest of ranks in my list of favorite authors. And every single time, with very few exceptions of course, I have always ended each book with the deepest sigh from within my soul, knowing that I couldn’t have asked for more!
Final Verdict: A Rose at Midnight is magnificent, the intricacy of this multi-layered tale is not to be missed!
She could have withstood a brutal assault, his mouth grinding against her. She could have withstood a rough rape of her mouth, and she was fully prepared to disappear into that quiet place in her mind where no one could reach her.
But she was unprepared for the softness of his lips against hers. The damnable gentleness as he brushed his mouth against hers, feathering it lightly, so lightly that it was a caress. And she hadn’t been caressed in more than a decade.
“Just a kiss, love,” he said, putting his fingers under her chin and tilting her head up to meet his mouth. She held very still as his lips tasted hers, but he could feel the faint tremor that ran through her small, strong body, and he wondered idly what caused it. Hatred? Or desire?
Her body was stiff at first, and then slowly grew more pliant, her hips tilting up against his with the light encouragement of his hand at the small of her back, her perfect breasts through the thin layers of clothing pressing against his chest. He could hear the lazy buzz of bees in the background, the distant song of birds, and the wind rustled through the leaves overhead as he kissed her, until she was shaking, until he was shaking, until he wanted to push her down in the sweet-smelling grass and tear away her clothes and his, until he wanted to find comfort in the sweet danger of her body.
“It will be rape,” she said in a wild fury.
“No,” he said. “It won’t.”
She survived the fierce possession of his kiss. She survived his overpowering strength, as he pulled her to the bed, pushing her down and covering her flailing limbs with his strong body. She survived the touch of his hands on her breasts, the feel of his arousal against her stomach. But she couldn’t survive the sudden gentleness, the slow start of heat in her belly, the warmth in her breasts, the damnable yearning that blossomed in her heart.
She felt as if she were floating, lost in the feel of his lips on hers, the shocking intimacy of his tongue in her mouth, more intimate than anything she’d endured during her enforced couplings. She wanted to dissolve, to lose herself in the seductive wonder of his mouth possessing hers. She wanted it never to stop, to last forever in a billowing cloud of passion without end.
He’d told her she was beautiful, his precious child, his angel in a dark night. He’d told her she was his soul, his life and breath, and the heat of his desire.
And, God help him, he’d told her the worst thing of all. He’d told her that he loved her. And even now, he wasn’t quite sure if he’d lied.
“Don’t fight it, my angel,” he whispered, his voice a mockery. “I’m not going to finish with you until you come.”
She whimpered then, and hated herself for doing so. He covered her mouth with his, and like a fool she kissed him back, as his hair fell around them both, curtaining them in darkness. He reached down and caught her hips, pulling her up against him, and then his body went rigid in her arms, and she felt the flooding of a great warmth, one that for the first time was answered with her own warmth.
“You have two choices, Ghislaine. You must either kill me or love me. Make your decision.”
He watched her grip tighten on the knife, and he wondered whether this time she would do it.
He reached her, standing in front of her, his tom, bloodstained shirt barely covering his chest, and waited.
“Oh, my God,” she said in a broken voice. And she dropped the knife with a noisy clatter, and flung herself into his arms.
He caught her shoulders, pulling her up close against him, and this time he kissed her, hard and deep, a kiss she answered. Her dress ripped as he tore it off her; his breeches ripped as she tore them open. She touched him, felt the silken strength of him, and he groaned, deep in his throat, pushing against her hands.
He stared at her in mute frustration. “All right, I love you, damn it,” he snapped. “Does that satisfy you?”
She considered it. “It’s a start. But you’ll definitely need more practice. You haven’t learned the proper intonation. You need—” He silenced her, efficiently and swiftly, his mouth covering hers.
When he lifted his head they were both breathless. “I love you,” he said again, this time a little more softly.
She smiled up at him. “Much better,” she whispered.
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