My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts...
Meet A Rogue at Midnight by Gina Conkle is book 2.5 of her historical romance series Midnight Meetings. Even though the books have been published with quite a bit of gaps in between, I enjoyed this series so far. A new installment was a long time coming and so glad I finally got to read it!
Midnight Meetings is rather themed on the popular fairytales. Book 1, Meet the Earl at Midnight, was about a reclusive Earl whose face became somewhat disfigured from an accident. A nerd by heart, Edward wasn’t meant to be the heir but fate led him to become the Earl of Greenwich when his elder brother died suddenly. Our h, Lydia was ‘given’ to him in exchange of a debt of her slimy step-father. One night from her comfy bed, Lydia finds herself doing something she wasn’t even dreaming of; in a MOC with a stranger. An Earl no less! Edward, who was leaving for a scientific voyage very soon, needed to marry ASAP to ensure an heir for his legacy and this was his hasty solution. Not that he didn’t like Lydia, oh no! He was smitten from day one, though he was never good at showing his feelings. So, after a bit of push and pull and some misunderstandings, Edward and Lydia find their HEA. Though I found the middle of the story a bit slow because of the above mentioned push and pull, I loved how it all came together in the end.
Book 2, The Lady Meets Her Match, is kind of based on the Cinderella theme. This is the story of Edward’s ex-housekeeper, the beautiful Claire who had a ‘past’ but wanted to make a better future for herself. Claire had a good life in Greenwich Park, Edward’s home but she needed to find her own footing in the world. With that in mind, she left her job and opened a bakery shop. Cyrus, our H, had a very small appearance in book 1. He’s extremely wealthy but his roots lie in the streets of London. But Cyrus is a self-made man, who worked hard to be where he is today. And he owns the block where Claire’s shop is situated. This book is not directly connected to book 1 beyond the characters, which makes it a good standalone. It’s based solely on Cyrus and Claire’s sizzling chemistry right from the moment they met till the moment they decide to become lovers. This one, I totally loved and was eagerly waiting for the next book in the series.
Meet A Rogue At Midnight is a novella of Edward’s right-hand man Jonas. Jonas made a few cameos in book 1 but I hardly remember him except that he was big and bald, and had been in America for a while even though he’s an Englishman. I don’t remember correctly how he and Edward met, but they had a great understanding and Jonas managed Edward’s business and his ship (Jonas worked as a shipmate in the past) with deft hands. Edward considered him a friend.
In the beginning of the story, we find Jonas back at his home for Christmas after a long absence of 10yrs. He’d left without looking back and wasn’t in much of a contact with his family. His twin, Jacob, has finished studying and now is a successful barrister living somewhere else. But Jonas has had a rougher life, not what you’d call a gentleman should have.
Like the previous 2 books, this novella is a well-written standalone. You don’t need to read the first two books because there is no direct connection going on. However, for full enjoyment and an introduction to the characters, I’d recommend reading books 1 and 2 of the series.
Jonas and Jacob were born on the wrong side of the blanket. They never knew their father but their maternal grandfather had always taken care of them and their mother, never questing a thing. We get a bit of Jonas’s background and why he left his home town as the story moved along. Back home, he finds that only his aging grandfather is alive. We don’t meet Jacob in person, but I wish we did.
This story doesn’t give you too much background on Jonas’s life in between. There are vague mentions of this and that, but nothing significant. We though, find that he had a friend while growing up. Jonas was the ‘less smart’ of the twins, or so the whole town used to gossip about. He was treated quite shabbily, called names because of his big built (not fat, just tall and well-muscular in general). Gave me the impression they thought him dumb and slow which he decidedly wasn’t. :/ I don’t know how differently Jacob is built but he had always been lauded as the smart one. He was also given the education befitting his ‘smartness’. But for Jonas, it wasn’t a happy story. After being taunted his whole life, he simply snapped one day and left the village for a better life. In doing so, he did something he didn’t even know. He left Olivia Halsey, who used to be his shadow, a friend and confidant, quite heartbroken.
Olivia Halsey has mooned over Jonas before she was even aware of mooning, crushing and whatever those feelings meant. She had known Jonas pretty much her whole life, followed him around, played with him. It was a relationship built on love, friendship and trust. Olivia had loved Jonas, which blossomed into something deeper as she grew up. But she was still a gangly young girl, unlike the beauty that was her older sister Elspeth. She was still too young for a young Jonas looking to make a way in this world. But that didn’t mean it hurt any less when he left without a word to her.
In the intervening years, though Elspeth married, had children, and then became a widow now living with her family, Olivia took over taking care of the family. She was beautiful but somehow, she always came short in comparison to Elspeth. I’d never understand why. They had no brother, so when their archeologist father fell severely ill, unable to work any longer, Olivia stepped in. In a way, she was always a bit tomboy-ish growing up and loved helping her father; something Elspeth would never do cause she’s a proper lady. Their mother being a foreigner, Olivia enjoyed more freedom than a so-called proper English noble woman would allow her daughters. Either way, they were known as an eccentric family and the people of the village held them in affection.
But in taking on the responsibility of taking care of her family, Olivia had to hide away her father’s illness. Hide herself away in the tower that was her workroom, day and night. She knew no one would take her word or work seriously because of her sex. Everything had to be done under her father’s name. She did everything she could to restore artifacts and sell them, but Olivia could never take any credit for her hard work. It hurt to lie but she had no other options. She loved her work but she also didn’t want to have to continue the way she was. Though she’d had a few beaus, Olivia had never considered marriage seriously. Because in her heart of hearts, she was still enamored of tht tall, big boy with bright blue eyes, who had saved her from many scrapes and laughed and played with her. Olivia had long since given up on ever seeing Jonas again but how could she forget him easily?
Turns out, she couldn’t.
Olivia was as surprised as anyone by Jonas’s sudden return. Their first meeting after so long is where the story begins as if, anew, for them and their relationship that seemed to have been on hold until now. From the very first moment Jonas couldn’t take his eyes off of Olivia and her, uh, new endowments that he certainly didn’t remember from before. ;) He knew he wanted her in a physical sense from that moment, while Olivia found Jonas’s tall, big built as much of an aphrodisiac as those eyes she absolutely adored. But when they came together, first as somewhat strangers, then friends and ally and finally, as lovers, Olivia and Jonas would find that they have their work cut out in both literal and metaphorical sense. Of how to make sense of this ‘new’ awareness that wasn’t there when they were young.
I totally loved this sweet story because it seemed so... simple, yet not so. The author makes you feel very comfortable with Jonas and Olivia, as much as they are with each-other. Meet A Rogue At Midnight was definitely steamy. I’d have loved to read a few more chapters because I was really enjoying this comfortable relationship Jonas and Olivia had despite their differences. It’s like you know they’re meant to be together, the way they talk about each-other, defending one another without even realizing what they’re doing. Jonas’s story gave me a glimpse of the man within and I loved what I read. Olivia was a new character, loved her too. Recommended if you’re a fan of friends-to-lovers stories. 4.25 stars.
Review copy received from the author, thanks Gina!