Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Baker's Dozen of Reviews: Day Eleven--It Happened One Midnight

It Happened One Midnight
By Julie Anne Long
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: June 25, 2013

Thomasina de Bellestros is a woman in the business of survival—her own and those of the innocents for whom she risks everything. The bastard daughter of a famous courtesan who died too young and a duke who ignores her existence, from an early age, Tommy was dependent upon the kindness of an aging countess who owed her mother a favor and her own resources. Her beauty and charm mesmerize the men who attend the countess’s salons, but it is the image they adore. Only one man knows the heart and soul of Thomasina de Bellestros, and he is the son of a powerful family, at home in a world where Tommy is a misfit and a question mark.

Jonathan Redmond is the youngest of Isaiah and Fanchette Redmond’s children, a light-hearted charmer with rakish proclivities whom no one, not even his family and closest friends, takes seriously. No one is aware that it is Jonathan who has inherited his father’s gift and interest in investment; no one knows the man whose heart is stirred by the plight of the defenseless. His father not only refuses Jonathan’s request to sponsor his membership in an elite investment group; he also cuts his allowance and gives him an ultimatum—marry a young woman of acceptable breeding and wealth within six months or have funds cut permanently.

A chance meeting one night outside the home of a duke from whom they both want something makes Tommy and Jonathan newly aware of one another. The weapons they display that night will prove far less dangerous than the other means with which they will challenge one another. The genuine liking they feel for one another will be the seed of a rare friendship that soon encompasses desire, understanding, and a love neither Tommy nor Jonathan ever expected to find. They will have obstacles to overcome, some of their own making, but together they will change each other. Together they will even change their world.  

Long began her Pennyroyal Green series over five years ago with The Perils of Pleasure (2008). Sometimes I read the first book in a series, and I almost sense a force field around it so convinced am I that I have read the beginning of something truly extraordinary. That was the feeling I had after reading The Perils of Pleasure the first time. Each book in the series has reaffirmed my initial response.  It Happened One Midnight joins What I Did for a Duke and The Notorious Countess Confesses on my all-time top 100 list (or about the top one percent of the romances I’ve read).

In this eighth Pennyroyal Green book, Long weaves a story that pairs two people who should never be a match and makes me believe they are perfect for each other. She makes the impossible seem destined and the unexpected seem ideal. Tommy sees in Jonathan all that he is and all that he is capable of becoming. If ever a heroine deserved a hero to cherish her, Tommy does. And Jonathan’s heart is large enough to cherish all the pieces of who she is. Theirs is a story that, from the opening scene through the epilogue, never makes a misstep. Once again Long gives readers a book in which true love is characterized by the ability to see the essential self of the beloved that lies beyond the masks created to protect and conceal.

As always with Long, part of the joy of reading the book comes from her prose. The opening description with its pickax moon and diamond smithereens of stars sings, and there are dozens of other passages that are lovely and lyrical. My favorite comes from the scene where the Earl of Ardmay is waiting with Jonathan and the other Redmond males (except for Lyon, of course) are waiting for Violet to give birth. Violet is having a difficult time, and the scene is a fraught one. Amid his fear for his sister, Jonathan thinks of Tommy:

And in his weariness, only one word came to Jonathan, like a prayer. Tommy, he thought, invoking what was good and real. Tommy. The word for love in his world right now. Tommy. And he supposed that the word that occurred to you in your darkest moments . . . well, that word meant love. That was how you knew. And perhaps that was the purpose of dark moments.

Earlier Tommy has distinguished between love and romance. She, like Jonathan, has come to understand that love ennobles the giver and renders meaningful small, daily expressions.  It Happened One Midnight is deeply romantic, but even better, it is a heart-shatteringly beautiful love story with a sigh-evoking HEA. I highly recommend this book.

I bought digital copies of this JAL series when they were on sale, and I am in the process of rereading all eight Pennyroyal Green books. I am discovering new reasons to love the series. Are you a rereader? Do you buy digital copies of books you already own in print, or vice versa?


Terri Rothrock said...

Absolutely. I buy them first on my ereader, then, if I love them, purchase them in print. I'm trying to amass all the PRG series. Julie Anne is my very favorite author. I cannot wait for this book to become available. Thank you for the review.

Unknown said...

Yes, I do reread. I may even get the audiobook after buying the ebook, especially if the reader is good.

Janga said...

Terri, thanks for stopping by Just Janga. I count anyone who lists JAL as a favorite author a kindred spirit.

Janga said...

I should try audiobooks. I tend to avoid them since they remind me, for complicated reasons, of the hours I spent studying for my comprehensive exams in grad school. :)

Kim said...

Thanks for the review. I also thought What I Did For a Duke & A Notorious Countess Confesses were great books. It's nice to know you think the new book is at this high level.