The Prince of Midnight, Seize the Fire, and Midsummer Moon, by Laura Kinsale

If you like your romance novels high on action, low on plausibility, and full of darkly tormented heroes and heroines, check out Laura Kinsale’s books: they’re imaginative, they’re well-written, and every one of ‘em features a full soap opera’s worth of hardcore drama.

The Prince of Midnight

Once a legendary highwayman, S.T. Maitland is now a recluse living in a crumbling French castle. Once a sheltered noblewoman, Lady Leigh Strachan is now a would-be vigilante. When Leigh asks for Maitland’s help, he turns her down flat—but he can’t seem to forget her, and eventually returns with her to England, determined to avenge her family’s deaths.

The Prince of Midnight is enjoyably over-the-top, complete with cross-dressing, tame wolves, and evil cultists. The main couple is a refreshing change from the usual cold-hearted male/gentle female dynamic, and the storyline features several thrilling action sequences. The story’s climax is rushed, and too many plot points are resolved ‘off-screen’, but the inevitable happy ending feels both satisfying and hard-won.

Seize the Fire

Captain Sheridan Drake may have won awards for his valor in battle, but he’s no hero. When lonely, naïve Princess Olympia, heir to the tiny nation of Oriens, decides Drake would make an ideal knight in shining armor, he agrees to become her protector—but only for a hefty price. Drake assures himself that he’s only interested in Olympia’s wealth, but he soon finds himself risking far more than he wants to in order to protect her....

Seize the Fire is the weakest of the three reprints. Over the book’s nearly 600 pages, Kinsale marches Drake and Olympia through an inventive list of trials and tribulations, including being:

1. Captured by pirates,
2. Sold into slavery,
3. Attacked by an angry mob, and
4. Shipwrecked in Antarctica (where they rescue an orphaned penguin).
In addition to the calamities listed above, Olympia is forced to flee an arranged marriage (with her uncle!), and Drake suffers from some kind of post-traumatic stress disorder. The constant dramatics rapidly lost all emotional impact (although I did enjoy wondering what ludicrously dreadful scenario the couple would end up in next), and the story eventually collapses under its own weight.

Midsummer Moon

Miss Merlin Lambourne and Lord Ransom Falconer have nothing in common: Merlin is an absentminded eccentric bent on inventing a flying machine, while Ransom is a powerful aristocrat with a serious fear of heights. While they’re obviously attracted to one another, little can come of such a mismatched union—but when Ransom discovers that Merlin’s inventions have made her a target for Napoleon’s advancing forces, he decides that she absolutely must move in with him....

Midsummer Moon is the most plausible of the three reprints, with dramatic tension that springs from conflicting personalities, rather than a mustache-twirling villain. It is also the only book to feature any humor. (Weird humor, seeing as most of it is based on the behavior of a woman who seems borderline certifiable, but still a welcome addition.) Any of the Kinsale novels featured above will provide readers with several hours’ worth of entertainment, but Midsummer Moon handles its material with the lightest touch.
Posted by: Julianka


12 Jun, 2008 04:54 PM @ version 0

I've always found Kinsale's books to be ideal plane reading--exciting enough to make you forget that you're stuck in a flying tin can, and long enough to entertain you for the entire flight.

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