Midnight
by Beverly Jenkins, historical (2010)
Avon, $7.99, ISBN 978-0061547808


Midnight refers to our heroine, Faith Kingston, who spies on the American loyalists and British soldiers on behalf of the Sons of Liberty. The year is 1775 and tension is mounting between folks in America and the British. Faith's father is on the loyalists' side, but that doesn't stop her from doing what she does despite the fact that she sometimes wishes that he'd show her some affection.

Our hero Nicholas Grey is a former smuggler and mercenary who returns home to Boston to reconcile with his father, only to learn that his father was actually a member of the Sons of Liberty and that he died just three weeks ago while in captivity. Nicholas learns that Lady Midnight warned his father to leave town shortly before the man was arrested, and he decides to seek out this spy. Meanwhile, he crosses path with Faith and is smitten. How will he react when he learns that Faith and Lady Midnight are the same person?

Now, Beverly Jenkins always has a tendency to dump in plenty of history in her stories, and I have always been okay with that. She also tells more than she shows, which is fine when done in moderation. In Midnight, however, it's all telling, which leads to some bewildering jumps from point A to point B.

For example, when Nicholas is told of Lady Midnight, he immediately assumes that she is an actress or a "harlot". While it is unlikely that a female spy is also a genteel lady, I find his immediate assumption that the spy is an "actress" a stretch. Because I have no idea what he is thinking, I am left to wonder whether he's just an idiot or he means "actress" as in the spy is good at pretending to be someone else.

Another strange moment is when Faith learns that her father's new wife is all too eager to abandon the man. By that time, she learns that her father is an insane cartoon villain who will do anything to hurt other people out of spite, and she still disapproves of this woman's character. Surely any sane woman would jump ship at the earliest opportunity when she's married to such a man? Again, I have no idea what Faith is thinking since Ms Jenkins is just telling me what Faith is doing or saying, so I'm left to figure this woman out on myself.

And then there is that scene where Faith's father throws her out in a terrible storm and Nicholas takes her in. Instead of inquiring about her health, her supposedly good friends seem more concerned about whether she is now Nicholas's mistress. I'd think good friends, upon learning of what transpired between Faith's father and her, would at least spare a thought about her well-being instead of demanding to know whether Nicholas has ruined her forever.

All that telling without much showing can make a story a pretty dull one to read, but the actions and thoughts displayed by the characters in this story that don't make sense in a particular context also distract me considerably.

The story also gets wrapped up way too neatly. All that tension about Lady Midnight being an untrustworthy harlot actress turns out to be of no consequence, the villain gets removed out of the picture without our lovebirds having to do anything, and the last few chapters feel more like a passionless recital of the events that take place in our lovebirds' life together rather than a joyous start of a new life together.

To top it off, Faith is not a very good spy. She's a typical romance heroine spy: doing what she does without any clear idea given to me, the reader, about her convictions; she is easily caught in action by the hero; her every thought and emotion flashes on her face. This is the famous spy? Sigh.

Midnight is a very dry read, which will still be fine were not for the characters often displaying perplexing behavior that has me scratching my head. This is definitely not one of the author's better books, not by a long shot. It's just boring.

Rating: 52


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