Midnight’s Wild Passion
by Anna Campbell
(Avon, $7.99, R) 978-0-06-168430-2
****
An infamous rake and a ruined Lady in hiding meet in the most unusual way in Midnight’s Wild Passion. The result is a smart and romantic story that makes you think and keeps you entertained.

Nicholas Challoner, Marquess of Ranelaw is on a mission. He has been waiting for this day for 20 years. Twenty years since his sister, Eloise, was ruined by Godfrey Demarest and left unmarried, pregnant, and an outcast sent to a convent by her parents. Nicholas’ focus has been revenge. He is a well-known rake who seeks pleasure for himself and leaves woman in his wake as he bores of them. Demarest has a daughter, Cassie, who has just entered her first season and Nicholas has the perfect plan. He will seduce and ruin Cassie just as Demarest ruined Eloise.

Nicholas enters the ball where he knows Cassie is in attendance. He immediately sees her, but is distracted by the frumpy chaperone he knows will do everything she can to keep him away from Cassie. As Nicholas approaches he realizes that the chaperone is not the old hag she appears from a distance, but is a beautiful and young woman hiding under a misleading exterior. Even though he is distracted, he must keep his mind on the task of vengeance and follow through with his plan.

Antonia Smith has led everyone in London to believe she is an untitled woman in the service of the Demarest family. But what she is hiding is her true identify. Lady Antonia Hilliard comes from a long line of high society members in England, but 10 years ago she fell in love with her brothers’ friend and made a decision that ruined her virtue and banished her from her family. She was forced to leave her home, but was lucky enough to find the help of a distant cousin in Demarest who agreed to take her on as a caregiver and chaperone for young Cassie.

The first time Nicholas and Antonia meet they do nothing but argue. Nicholas is not used to being challenged by a woman, but there is something about Antonia that has him intrigued. Antonia has always dreamed of falling in love and having a family, but she has long ago come to terms with the decision she made as a teenager that altered her future. She recognizes that Nicholas is interested in her, but is wary in the possibility that he is using her to get closer to Cassie, which she cannot allow.

Midnight’s Wild Passion is a thought-provoking love story that is enjoyable and never dull. The characters are interesting and endearing. The story splits the perspective between Nicholas and Antonia, but I find that Nicholas’ story is more compelling and his journey in coming to terms with his past and finding love is more gripping than Antonia’s story.

Overall the story is believable. The dialogue between the main characters is witty and amusing. The obstacles that are introduced are for the most part plausible. Antonia is a very strong and independent woman, but she does cave a little to easily to Nicholas’ mojo. Also, Nicholas can be a little overbearing with his persistence at the same time the story is trying to relay an inner kindness. There is a slight conflict with that, but on the whole the story is believable.

The writing in this book is very well done, but the reading level is higher than the typical romance novel. The need for a dictionary while reading preventing a five heart rating, but I would recommend Midnight’s Wild Passion.

--Nichole Howell


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