Mistress by Midnight by Nicola Cornick

Mistress by Midnight
Book 3 in the Scandalous Women of the Ton
Publisher: HQN Books
Published Date:  August 19, 2011
ISBN: 9781408951071

Review courtesy of netGalley 

A wicked duke’s bed is no place for a lady…
Lady Merryn Fenner is on a mission to ruin the Duke of Farne. A beautiful bluestocking with a penchant for justice, Merryn has waited twelve years to satisfy her revenge against Garrick Farne. Her family name had been tarnished at his hands, her life destroyed.
For twelve years Garrick, Duke of Farne has kept the secret of what really happened on the night that he killed his best friend, Stephen Fenner, in a duel. Now Stephen’s sister is intent on discovering the truth and putting at risk all those secrets Garrick has protected.
When a disaster traps Merryn and Garrick together, white-hot desire stirs between the two sworn enemies. Merryn's reputation is utterly compromised and she is forced to do the one thing she cannot bear; accept the scandalous marriage proposal of the man she has vowed to ruin.
My Thoughts:
The story centers around hidden secrets. These secrets were put into place twelve years ago to protect the innocent, over the years these secrets eventually led to telling lies and the consequences of these events has now become a tangled mess. It took our young heroine, Merryn, to put the wheels in motion to unravel them. She would not rest until she found out what really happened regarding her brother’s death, putting at risk all the secrets our hero, Garrick has protected. Garrick has kept the secrets of what really happened on the night that he is best friend is killed. For Garrick, these secrets have brought shame, guilt and unworthiness. And by not dealing with them, he has carried them into the future. He believed what he had done had made unworthy of love.
In the midst of uncovering the truth, there was passion and romance between Merryn and Garrick.  Two people, who found love and a sense of completeness, while both struggling with secrets: he to keep them and her to reveal them.  As Merryn moved closer to the truth, she becomes open her mind to other possibilities of what really happened.  In doing so, Merryn was finally able to see Garrick as he truly was, an honorable man who had been in an intolerable situation, who had made mistakes and tried to make reparation.  The sparks ignite right from the start.  The love scenes were filled with passion and sizzled right off the pages.
“I love you,” she said softly. “It is that simple.”

     “What can I give you,” she said. She felt Garrick’s arms tighten about  her with a fierce protectiveness. “I have everything I could ever want here in my arms.”

I loved the fact that Merryn spoke her mind and she wasn’t afraid to dig deeper once a new clue unraveled. Many times a heroine is one dimensional and doesn't rationalize out an explanation; when Merryn wanted to know the truth, she asked!! No festering about it, no ignoring it,  she asked the hard questions that needed to be asked, regardless if the answers were not the ones she was hoping for.
There were so many aspects of the book that I enjoyed. This book captured my interest from the start. A powerful story of intrigue and passion, I could not put the book down until I learned the truth myself.  And then when you think all secrets have been revealed, you find our heroine has been harboring her own deep secret.  I also love the witty banter between the two main characters, I found myself laughing out loud. 

There is also your underwear,” Garrick said. She stiffened. “You have been rifling through my underwear?” “You left it in my drawers.” “Then I think perhaps you had better keep it,” Merryn said icily “I don’t really want it returned secondhand.” “I haven’t been wearing it,” Garrick pointed out mildly. “Merely looking at it.”

There is an unusual historic event referenced in this story, and I must admit it was one I never I heard of it. It was interesting, but as I was imagining the scenes, it was hard for me to capture the intensity between the two characters as I was having visions of river of smelly stale ale running through my head. And if anyone can relate to that stench, it is not pleasing to the senses.

Nicola Cornick was a great story teller, I believe I have added a new author to my favorite list. This is the third in The Scandalous Women of the Ton. Each of the books is a standalone story in itself but the scandalous women – and their heroes are featured in each other's stories . I recommend this book to anyone who loves historical romance with an added bonus of suspense.

I received this ARC from netGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
USA Today bestselling author Nicola Cornick writes passionate Regency historicals for HQN Books and MIRA. She studied History at London and Oxford and was awarded a distinction for her dissertation on historical heroes. It was a tough study but someone had to do it. Nicola has a “double life” as a writer and guide at the stunning 17th century hunting lodge, Ashdown House.

Romantic Times has described her writing as emotional and sexually charged and Publishers Weekly have called her a rising star. She is a double nominee for both the RWA RITA Award and the RNA Love Story of the Year.

Nicola lives near Oxford and loves reading, writing, history, music, wildlife, travel and walking her dog. She also loves hearing from her readers and chatting to them on her blog.


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