Meet the Earl at Midnight (Midnight Meetings #1)
Author: Gina Conkle
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: 6 May 2014
It's going to take a Beast to tame this Beauty
Enigma Earl. The Phantom of London. That's what the gossip pages call Lord Edward Greenwich, a mysterious nobleman who doesn't show his face in London Society. With a reputation like that, no wonder Lydia Montgomery is horrified to be dragged from bed and packed off to live with him to save her mother from penury.
While Lydia has received all of the training a lady should endure, she's decidedly un-ladylike. She despises her corset and isn't interested in marriage. She'd prefer to remain unmarried and spend her time improving her art. But if she wants a chance at happiness, she'll have to set aside her fear of the earl and discover the man hiding behind the beast.
Will Edward and Lydia's greatest discovery be each other before time runs out?
Lydia is a very lively heroine, and I certainly admired her directness. She's not the type of woman to be easily cowed and when faced with the mysterious 'Phantom of London' in the middle of the night, she holds her ground and her composure. Lydia doesn't wish to marry and would much rather spend her time focusing on her art, but she agrees to marry Edward for her mother's sake. I thought she was a fun and refreshing heroine, although she does make some rather questionable decisions.
Edward hides himself away from society, using his scars as a excuse for his solitary lifestyle. He soon finds himself in need of a wife and heir, and rather quickly. Upon discovering Lydia's step brother was stealing from his shipping company, Edward agrees to forgive the crime in exchange for Lydia's hand in marriage. What Edward doesn't count upon is the way she makes him question his decisions with her blunt and fearless attitude. Edward is a very focused man, with a dry sense of humour and a sharp intelligence. He's very determined when it comes to his scientific pursuits, which are admirable but can blind him to the possibilities that are right in front of him.
I love Lydia and Edward together, they complement each other very well and balance each other's poorer traits. Neither of them particularly care for society and what it thinks, which lends them both a welcome sense of honesty. They are both very passionate and single-minded about their pursuits, but they find that they can learn from each other in these regards. They have a wonderful chemistry which makes it impossible for Edward to dismiss Lydia as he was going to do initially- as if she would let him though!
I very much enjoyed the way the story unfolded. There are plenty of questions to keep the reader intrigued. The first half of the book has a slower build up as Lydia and Edward learn more about each other, and then in the second half we start to have more answers and you see if Lydia and Edward make the right decisions about what is more important to them.
Overall, I'm impressed with the first book in Gina Conkle's 'Midnight Meetings' series. I enjoy the way the author can write unusual characters who seem to connect in different ways and find love despite the apparent impediments. I can easily imagine several of the characters in this book having their own stories, and with any luck we won't have to wait too long for their books!
*I received an ARC from the author, for my honest opinion. Thank you!