|Initially Yours Until Dawn reminded me of Jean Cocteau’s “Beauty and the Beast.” Like the Beast, an evil spell has caused Gabriel Fairchild to shut himself up in his castle. Gabriel’s curse is blindness. A naval officer during the Napoleonic Wars, he served on the Victory with Admiral Nelson at Trafalgar. Admiral Nelson was killed in the battle; Gabriel’s injury resulted in blindness. Jilted by his sweetheart, Cecily March, he has retreated to Fairchild Park and, like the Beast, has shut himself away from everyone.
Although Fairchild Park is a negative of the Beast’s castle – dark and gloomy, with heavy drapes covering the windows, where the Beast’s castle was candle-lit, with gossamer curtains blowing in the breeze – Fairchild Park also has a story-tale feel, withdrawn from the world and barricaded against intruders.
Gabriel himself is described in Beastly terms. Before he meets our Beauty – Samantha Wickersham - for the first time, his blundering approach through the house is described as that of “some sort of massive beast…lumbering toward its den,” while emitting “muffled roars.” When he finally enters the room where Samantha is waiting, what she sees is “not a beast, but a man – or what was left of one after all the genteel veneer of society had been stripped away.”
Samantha has come to Fairchild Park in response to an ad for a nurse for Gabriel. Her previous position was as a governess, and she is sure that the skills she learned in that job will help her manage Gabriel. For his part, Gabriel just wants to be “left the bloody hell alone so I can rot in peace.” Naturally, this is a challenge no right-minded romance heroine can ignore.
The next three-quarters of Yours Until Dawn is a enjoyable chronicle of Samantha’s struggles to teach Gabriel how to live with his blindness, while Gabriel resists, then succumbs to, the growing attraction he feels for Samantha. The story has been told before, but Ms. Medeiros tells it charmingly and – when the lovers finally yield to their attraction – sensually.
Unfortunately, I found the last quarter of the book unconvincing. It is difficult for me to explain exactly why without giving away too much of the plot. I will try to keep my revelations to a minimum, but if you are planning to read Yours Until Dawn no matter what I say…and Ms. Medeiros’ fans are legion…I recommend that you quit reading this review right here. I feel sure that the first three-quarters of this book will please you, and…as for the last fourth, which I criticize…your mileage may vary.
For those of you who are still reading, three-quarters of the way through her book, Ms. Medeiros introduced a twist in the plot that – frankly - I found unbelievable. In her defense, I must say that she played fair and set up her situation in the earlier text. At the same time, she also emphasized elements that undermined it. She never convinced me that the deception that was so central to her plot would have worked.
So…here you have a pleasant, little fairy tale that ends poorly. Can I recommend it whole-heartedly? No, but I can recommend it with reservations. I think that for most readers the strong elements will outweigh the weak ending. However, those of you who value plausible plotting will wish to approach Yours Until Dawn with caution.
--Nancy J Silberstein