A Kiss at Midnight (Fairy Tales, #1)

A Kiss at Midnight (Fairy Tales, #1) - Eloisa James I'm fairly new to historical romance but this was very disappointing fare from what I perceive to be a popular author of the genre. Though funny at times, I found this book to be insubstantial and inconsistent fluff with a couple I didn't think were "made for each other" at all. The Prince wasn't drawn in a very favourable light (you get the feeling he's a useless arrogant rake) until we're told he has a degree from Oxford in archaeology and the weight of responsibility on his shoulders which meant he needed to marry an heiress in order to keep his castle full of outcast (and charming) relatives running, thereby giving him the air of an honourable gentleman. I didn't quite buy it. And to a certain extent, neither did Kate.24-year-old "I'm over-the-hill" Kate as our downtrodden Cinderella also isn't the most endearing. Despite being intelligent and witty she's always moaning about her looks (she's not ugly, just under-nourished), her stupid "bosom friends" (wax inserts to enhance ones chest i.e. the ye olde version of chicken fillets) and pining for a man she can't have. Their scenes together weren't all bad, witty banter aside I merely felt their relationship would be more of a fling. Berwick appeared to be a better fit or even the slightly boring Lord Hathaway who seemed charmed by her personality.The ending left me cold. Kate is the one with all the power to grant both herself and her Prince happiness but she fails to do anything, instead leaving him to agonise over a choice: feed his family by marrying the Russian heiress or marry the seemingly penniless Kate and starve. The way she sat back and waited for him to choose her was cruel to both of them. She knew if he wasn't so desperate for money he'd marry her in a heartbeat so he couldn't be compared to her father who was marrying her mother more for greed than necessity when he rejected Henry. Not only that but if she cared for the tenants of her father's estate so much then why didn't she immediately purchase it from her stepmother upon receiving her inheritance? Despite being a "retelling" it bore very little resemblance to the fairy tale, and I don't just mean the Disney version. The stepmother though manipulative, controlled very little. She allowed her daughter and step-daughter to walk around without supervision i.e. governesses and chaperones, which sees her daughter falling pregnant out of wedlock because she failed to educate her on sex.Kate's godmother Henry, although I liked her I was uncomfortable with her connection to Kate's father. It seemed inappropriate that he would ask her to be Kate's godmother so I understood why Henry never took the responsibility seriously until now.This wasn't exactly compelling reading however, the side characters were far more interesting than the leads: Henry and her husband Leo, Berwick and Effie (I loved how the Prince defended her honour and dealt with Beckham) even the horrible yapping dogs (three tiny Malteses -ew!), the lion, elephant and monkey were entertaining. Although the author states this was 'not an historical novel' but a fairy tale she does estimate it was set around 1813 though I had my doubts. Powdered wigs were out of fashion at that time -they went out with the fall of Marie Antoinette (1793). I only mention this because their abundant use, especially the ridiculous rainbow-coloured wigs Kate wore, annoyed the hell out of me. I'll most likely give the author a second chance with When Beauty Tamed the Beast but only because the ratings are quite a bit better than this one.Favourite Quotes"Why did Ceasar bite Victoria, anyway? I never thought to ask.""She was feeding him from her mouth.""What?""He's male. I've noticed that sometimes the brains simply get left out of the package." ~ Kate"I've no dogs, but I'm willing to consider the lion as a substitute." ~ Prince (Gabriel)"As long as you're not as much a fool as your sister, there's no need to fuss about a bit of liberty before marriage. Just squeak loudly on your wedding night and your husband will never know." ~Henry"Are your footmen unfortunate degenerates?" Henry put in cheerfully. "The only one of those in my household is my darling Leo."They all glanced at Henry's husband, seated opposite her. Leo gave Kate a naughty wink and said, "It takes a degenerate to keep track of my wife, I assure you. No one else would have the imagination.""If my wife had gone to Oxford, they would have had to create a triple first," Leo said."What did you say?" Henry asked."In seduction," he whispered."Offer me a post as your mistress and I'll stab you with a fork, just as Effie stabbed Beckham. Except the fork won't go in your hand." ~Kate"Dear me," Gabriel commented. "England seems to have suffered a rash of trollopy young ladies without fathers."