A Rake's Midnight Kiss
Forever / August 27, 2013 / $8.00 print / $7.59 digital
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.
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 . . .
A Rake's Midnight Kiss, the second in the Sons of Sin series, finds Sir Richard Harmsworth on a quest. As a result of certain scandal he has disguised his true nature, his deep pain, behind that of a carefree cad, complete with the most elegant dress and presence at the most lavish parties. He embarks for the country, however, and adopts a new identity—evidence of his desperation to find some roots that will hold, some validation of who he is—to search for a family heirloom. Possession of the Harmsworth jewel will finally give Richard peace.
This is part treasure hunt, part country house party of misfits, with a dash of danger and masquerade. Genevieve Barrett is a scholarly spinster who quite happily prefers it that way, a refreshing point of view for the period. But when Richard descends on her little vicarage looking for the jewel, she finds she isn't prepared for him.
“How long are you staying?” she asked stiffly.
Something about Mr. Evans's smile made her step back. She'd feel less foolish if she could identify one particular element in his manner that unnerved her. Well, until he smiled at her the way he smiled now. He looked like a hungry tiger contemplating a lamb chop. Trepidation shivered along her veins and her heart thumped chaotically against her ribs.
“As long as it takes,” he said softly. His eyelids lowered, lending him a disconcertingly saturnine air. For most of the evening, he'd played the perfect guest. But in the space of a second, he transformed into a man who clearly intended seduction.
She told herself she let the fright she'd suffered from the burglary turn her into a nervous wreck. Surely she mistook him. A dull bluestocking past first youth couldn't attract this Adonis.
“Stop flirting,” she said firmly. “You're only doing it because there isn't another woman here.”
This time he laughed out loud. The sound was attractive. Open Joyful Genuine.
"You defeat me, Miss Barrett. How am I to work my wiles when you undo me at every turn?”
Both of them are resentful of their parents, one because of his past, the other because of her present circumstances. Both of them are outcasts, and they each hide behind a front. But these are the very elements that unite them. Their banter is delightful, and the series of conversations and acquaintances between them progress steadily in a believable way that pay homage to Genevieve's independence and Richard's casual flirtatiousness.
Eventually, Richard's motivations shift from an aim to recover his family's jewel to protect Genevieve and ensure her safety above all else. The little moments where he reaches to touch her hand under the blanket in a carriage while he smiles at her from the corner of his eye are highly romantic and even more so knowing that these two people have both arrived at this place together.
“You have no right to censure my behavior, Mr. Evans. You're neither my father, brother, nor husband. You're a chance-met stranger.”
“Who would like to be more,” he responded smoothly.
She arched her eyebrows and her tone turned scathing. “My clandestine lover? I swoon with excitement.”
“Careful, Miss Barrett. As you pointed out, we're not alone.”
Color surged into her cheeks and she glanced around the room. Mrs. Warren and Fairbrother still watched intently. The vicar returned to his reading. “You make me forget myself.”
“I'd certainly like to.”
Genevieve and Richard's banter and escalating courtship make A Rake's Midnight Kiss a delight.
Learn more or order a copy of A Rake's Midnight Kiss by Anna Campbell, now available:
Tiffany Tyer is a writer and editor who loves reading and analyzing all things romance. She also works as a vocalist, a tutor, and a non-profit ministry assistant, and she loves it that way. Her book reviews can be found at Happy Endings Reviews, a blog she co-founded.