The Prince of Midnight, by Laura Kinsale

>> Wednesday, July 14, 2004

I've been on a bit of a Laura Kinsale phase lately, so even though I hadn't heard much about The Prince of Midnight, I borrowed it from a friend as soon as I heard she had it.

He was once a legendary highwayman. Now he's a recluse, living out his life in a ruined hideaway. When Lady Leigh Strachan comes looking for a man who can teach her how to wreak revenge on her enemy, she's disgusted and disillusioned to find that the famed Prince of Midnight can hardly stand steady on his own two feet. S.T. Maitland wants nothing to do with his former criminal career, or with this fierce, beautiful, unhappy woman, until the old thrill of living on the cutting edge of danger begins to rise in his blood again.
This didn't make it into my favourite Kinsale list, but it was still quite good. A B+.

What I liked best was how fresh The Prince of Midnight felt, and not just because it paired a totally romantic and idealistic hero with a very tortured heroine, which is something you definitely do not see every day. It also had settings and situations which haven't been done to death, and that's always good.

I enjoyed the romance. Leigh could have been a little hard to warm up to, with her almost gratuitous coldness towards S.T., but there were always enough hints of her past that I could understand her. My own opinion was that she was still in shock, and trying very hard to remain in that condition, so as not to feel anything. I guess she thought that if she allowed herself to feel something, even the smallest warmness towards S.T. (or Nemo, or the horses, for that matter), all her defenses would have come down and she'd feel so much grief and anger and sadness that she wouldn't be able to function well enough to do what she had to do.

It was interesting to see this experienced, tortured heroine, who seems perfectly capable to separate sex from love paired up with a hero who's so romantic and idealistic and so NOT able to separate sex and love. I really liked the romance.

On the negative side is that it all felt a little overcrowded by the many, many things that were happening, which meant that certain aspects, like the religious cult which had taken over Leigh's hometown were a little underused, I thought. Their fight against this was anticlimatic... too easy, I guess, considering that this was what they'd been working up towards during most of the book. Still, this wasn't too bad.

On the whole, a worthy way of spending some hours. So far, every Kinsale I've read has been very different, both from each other and from the usual romance fare, and this is what I especially appreciate about this author.

Oh, but before I forget! God, what a horrible, horrible cover! I had to cover the book in brown paper to resist the sick compulsion to just stare at that cheesy Fabio. I refuse to put this horror on my blog, so just click here if you'd like to see it.


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