While looking for a little something like to perk me up at the bookstore, I grabbed a copy of A Kiss at Midnight, which is kind of like a fairy tale retelling and kind of like a Regency romance and both and neither of those things at once. Here's a bit of the author's note at the end of the book:
A fairy tale exists in a kind of timeless hour, caught between today and yesterday. For that reason, I allowed myself more freedom with language than I have in previous historical novels. A Kiss at Midnight, I cannot emphasize too firmly, is a fairy tale, not an historical novel. There are many ways that princes found wives, but it is doubtful that any of them ended up with a castle and an English bride in just this way. If I had to suggest a date, it would probably be somewhere around 1813, during the Regency.The book tells the story of Katherine "Kate" Daltry, her step-sister Victoria, and how a dog bite led to Kate trading places with her step-sister in order to win the approval of a prince for Victoria's marriage to her fiancé, Algie.
The prince, meanwhile, is a prince from a foreign country who is overseeing some English real estate - a castle, to be exact - full of peculiar relatives and a menagerie of exotic animals. Prince Gabriel-of-the-long-somewhat-silly-name from a manufactured duchy in Europe, and he is everything a Prince Charming ought to be, although not, in fact, initially charming. He is contracted to wed a Russian Princess who is on her way to the castle.
Algie and Kate (as Victoria) are required to attend their engagement ball. What can go wrong is, quite obviously, a lot, including Kate and Gabriel finding out that they are made for each other. It was a charming book, and I quite look forward to Ms James's next fairy tale novel, When Beauty Tamed the Beast, which is due out on January 25th. Meanwhile, I leave you with Ms James's dedication for A Kiss at Midnight, since I found it, like the story, charming:
This book is dedicated to the memory of my mother, Carol Bly. She didn't care too much for the genre of romance--or so she said. But she read my sister and me fairy tales over and over, enchanting us with princes who swept in on white chargers and princesses whose golden hair doubled as ladders. She gave me my first copies of Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, and Pride and Prejudice. In short, Mom, it's all your fault!