Genre – Historical Romance
Engaged to the jerkhole Lord Westbrook, Marisa Dunsmore would give anything to renege on the whole affair. A marriage of convenience arranged via blackmail has her searching for a way out. On the way to Lord Westbrook’s estate, the carriage is robbed by a dashing highwayman. Soon, Marisa and the highwayman, whom she dubs “Lord Midnight” begin a clandestine affair that they hope will accomplish two things: 1) Marisa’s escape and 2) Lord Midnight’s reclamation of his rightful title from his murderous uncle, Lord Westbrook.
There is a crap ton of deception in this book. A ton. Lord Midnight, Gabriel, is the nephew Lord Westbrook thought he’d murdered some ten years ago. Now all grown up and gallivanting around the countryside robbing coaches, Gabriel hatches a plan to reclaim his title once he meets his uncle’s betrothed, Marisa. For a large part of the book, she has no idea the connection between the two men—only that she wants away from Westbrook and she wants her highwayman’s help in accomplishing that goal.
That isn’t to say that Marisa isn’t an intelligent woman. She most definitely is. She’s well read, well-educated, and well-versed in what men like her betrothed expect from young women such as herself. She plays the naïve innocent so perfectly that Westbrook barely thinks she’d be capable of real thought, let alone planning an escape back to London. The entire book plays on the idea of deception, of hiding who you truly are (which makes the decision of Marisa’s engagement party to be a masquerade that much more symbolic), and adds multiple layers of drama and intrigue to what could have been a simple story. I’m deeply grateful it was not simple.
There’s plenty of drama to be had between Marisa and Gabriel. Adding Marisa’s brother Bernard into the mix brings a heightened sense of anticipation and dread. He knows his sister better than anyone, and after becoming indebted to Westbrook, he starts paying more attention to her actions, since his reputation is now dependent on her marriage.
The only aspect I couldn’t really wrap my head around was the impromptu wedding between Gabriel and Marisa. It’d be easy to write this section off as Marisa being “blinded by love” but she just seems too intelligent to willing marry someone she knows so little about (just having learned his real name prior to), even if it’s to thwart the wedding she doesn’t want, and even if it’s to someone she believes she loves. I couldn’t really buy that, but that decision is integral to the last quarter of the book and sets up the climax.
Overall, Lord Midnight is an enjoyable, well-constructed book that historical romance lovers will enjoy.