Jove, $6.50, ISBN 0-515-13054-0
Historical Romance, 2001
Bad, bad, bad boy Raphael Giscard has been very naughty. He and his friends bet on who will seduce Julia Brodie and break up her engagement to a man she seems to love. Poor Julia has no way of resisting Rafe’s bad boy charms. But what happens when he starts falling for her? What happens when the other shoe drops and the chamber pot hits the ceiling?
Anyway, Julia Brodie is a decent heroine whose naïveté fits her personality. A practical woman who has no idea what it is like to be swept of her feet, she is easy meat for Rafe’s practised moves. Seeing her fall in love is like watching a car filled with screaming nuns stuck in the middle of a railroad track while two trains are fast approaching from both ends of the track.
Of course, what’s important is how the resolution is dealt with once everything and the toilet breaks through the roof, right? For one, I’m glad to read a character-driven story devoid of the external spy/blackmail conflicts. Ms Navin, however, fails to handle the resolution of her story adeptly. Most of the great bad rake stories that I love (and mentioned above) have one thing in common: a proactive hero who openly seeks to rectify his wrongs and going at lengths, even risking his life and all, to make her love him the way he has grown to love her.
But Rafe’s idea of remorse is to behave even more hatefully towards her so that she will flee and leave him to wallow some more in his self-pity. Meet Me at Midnight can’t descend into headache read territory fast enough. And finally, after Julia dumps that misguided twit in a great show of womanly angst, the author has create an annoying plot twist to have Julia go back to Rafe. Again, Rafe cranks up his “Hate me so that you will leave me” bastard act.
I give up. Julia tells me she loves him – but why? He does nothing to warrant it. The author tells me of Rafe’s remorse, but Rafe never shows Julia much of any sign of remorse. Only his “I’m a bastard, hate me now, honey, heh heh heh!” act that makes him fit to be stuck in that car replacing the nuns, if you ask me.
Hence Meet Me at Midnight has potential. It just never lives up to its potential.