Carolyn Jewel, Courtney Milan, and Sherry Thomas
NLA Digital Liaison Platform/ August 28, 2012 / $3.99 digital
Welcome to Doyle's Grange, a charming house near the hills of Exmoor, where the garden is beautiful in every season, and the residents are respectable year-round.
Except when the clock strikes midnight...
One Starlit Night
Ten years away from Doyle's Grange isn't quite long enough for Viscount Northword to forget Portia Temple, or their passionate adolescent affair. Portia, however, is about to marry another man. Northword tells himself it is wrong to interfere in her life at this late hour, but interfere he cannot help, with his words, his body, and the truths of his heart.
What Happened at Midnight
Fleeing the consequences of her father's embezzlement, Mary Chartley takes a position as a lady's companion, only to find herself a virtual prisoner at Doyle's Grange, her employer's house. And then the nightmare truly begins: the man she loves, who also happens to be the man from whom her father stole, shows up at her door seeking recompense. And not merely in pound sterling...
A Dance in Moonlight
After losing her childhood sweetheart to another woman, Isabelle Englewood is heartsick. But then something remarkable happens: Upon arriving at Doyle's Grange, her new home, she meets Ralston Fitzwilliam, who looks almost exactly like the man she cannot have. Come late at night, she tells him, so I can make love to you pretending that you are the one I love.
What a treat! An anthology by three of my favorite historical romance authors, Midnight Scandals tells three stories for which the unifying element is the location: Doyle's Grange in Somerset England (and the nighttime meetings). The first two novellas, One Starlit Night by Carolyn Jewel and What Happened at Midnight by Courtney Milan, share two of my favorite romance tropes: old friend reunited and an opportunity for schadenfreude.
In One Starlit Night, our heroine, Portia Temple, is about to marry a man she doesn't love in order to get away from her Mrs. Bennet of a sister-in-law. The sister-in-law, Eleanor, has taken it upon herself to give Portia some worldly polish that Portia absolutely does not need or want.
“If you won't do anything about your hair, you really ought to follow my advice as to your wardrobe. When I was in London, everyone wanted to know the name of my modiste. Everyone! Twice I had to intervene when other ladies tried to hire away Bridget”
Eleanor is anxious for Portia to marry where it will benefit her brother (Eleanor's husband) and the man Portia has chosen will not do. Viscount Northword, an old friend of Portia's family is visiting the Grange, but Eleanor feels that he is far beyond Portia's touch. Little does she know that Northword and Portia have a past and, of course, a future.
Although Eleanor is not a villain, but merely a vain and misguided social-climber, we do have the satisfaction of knowing that Portia, in marrying for love, will also outrank her annoying sister-in-law.
In Courtney Milan's What Happened at Midnight, Mary Chartley flees the consequences of her father's embezzlement, including the loss of the man she loves, and ends up working for a true villain. As companion to Lady Patsworth, Mary finds herself trapped at Doyle's Grange (now, in 1856, the home of the Patsworths).
He didn't look like a monster. He didn't act like one. Mary hadn't even realized he was one for months. He'd taken away her money, her freedom, her friends, and it wasn't until she was well and truly leashed, without a penny in her possession, that she realized what he'd done. He mouthed all the right words of concern. But the instant Mary's wants diverged from his, he gently, politely quashed all her hopes.
John Mason, the man Mary loved, and the man from whom her father stole, appears in the neighborhood of Doyle's Grange and, through a rekindling of their love, Mary is able to save not only herself but poor, abused, Lady Patsworth. And, again, the reader has the satisfaction of love fulfilled and villainy thwarted.
The next time we visit Doyle's Grange for A Dance in the Moonlight, it is 1896 and our heroine is someone we know: Isabelle Englewood, the “other woman” in Sherry Thomas's wonderful Ravishing the Heiress.
This story has neither the former lovers reunited nor the schadenfreude trope. But it has a lovely theme of true love coming along just when you think you'll never love again. Isabelle meets Ralston Fitzwilliam the day she learns that her former love has fallen in love with his wife and will not be coming to Doyle's Grange with her. An incident of mistaken identity turns into a friendship and a friendship into love.
There are several delightful threads running through this story, including one linked to Ralston's work as a cartographer and an epistolary interlude between the hero and heroine while they are separated.
My Dear Mrs. Englewood,
I take pleasure in your reunion with your children. And I rejoice in your compliment. It is decided then: We are friends and nothing shall stand in the way of our friendship.
Your mysterious comings and goings have become a topic of much interest in the vicinity. I have disavowed any knowledge of your schedule or your intentions. Not as easy a feat as I first imagined: I was interrogated by Mrs. Beauregard, proprietress of the farm next to Doyle's Grange who saw me out of her window, making my way to my house, when she got up for a glass of water in the middle of the night. Rest assured, however, I divulged nothing. On the other hand, now I have a reputation for sleepwalking. All in your honor, lady!
These are three wonderfully complete novellas by three excellent authors. Don't miss Midnight Scandals.
Myretta is the co-founder and current manager of The Republic of Pemberley, a pretty big Jane Austen web site. She is also a writer of Historical Romance. You can find her at her website, www.myrettarobens.com and on Twitter @Myretta.