A Midnight Clear
As much as I enjoy Regency and Victorian era romances, it’s always exciting to find something different. The Edwardian setting of A Midnight Clear was a major draw for me. Luckily, there was a great romance to go along with it.
Troy Davenport and Miranda Granger met on an ocean liner between New York and England. Both felt drawn to each other, but didn’t exchange names. Troy, an artist, had been so inspired by her that he wanted to make her his muse. However, with no names, and only that brief interaction, he is struggling in painting her. Until one day he stumbles upon an article in the society pages that features a picture of her, giving her name and her Christmas plans to be at the grand opening of a seaside resort. Troy immediately changes his plans to follow her.
Miranda is respected, but pretty much considered a spinster. In her late twenties, she has spent the past ten years raising her two younger sisters and atoning for the sin of falling in love with a fortune hunter in her youth. Troy appeals to her, though, and despite her initial misgivings they begin to fall for each other. Both have secrets about their pasts, though, that could tear them apart.
I thought that Troy was an interesting character, given his artistic obsession with Miranda. This could be off-putting, but it wasn’t. At least, it mostly wasn’t. When we were in his head, his voice was a bit coarser than I would have expected — he thought about Miranda not being a ‘quick f—,” and remembered the time he had jerked off to his own painting of her. The psychological implications of this were a bit uncomfortable, given that it wasn’t actually a memory of her in her own right, but a piece of art that he had made. In the grand scheme of things, these were minor quibbles in his character, which was overall compelling, compassionate, and — yes — flawed. His feelings for Miranda are quickly formed but sincere, and the relationship between his love for her as a person and his obsession with his idea of her as an artistic model was interesting and among the most believable of this dynamic that I’ve read.
Miranda, too, is a good character — she’s believable, compelling, and her feelings for Troy are natural. She’s not perfect, which I liked, but was a good person (despite the much deserved dressing down she gives her sister toward the end of the novel).
As I noted, the time period is a bit unusual. I’ve much less experience in the early twentieth century etiquette and standards, but the role of technology in the story was different and enjoyable. Motorcars, electric lights, steamships — great fun. Societal norms were harder to pin down, but had just enough subtle differences to 19th century stories to make it appreciable.
My biggest problem with the novel is that it started late and ended too soon. I wanted to see Troy and Miranda’s first meeting on the ship, and I wanted there to be about ten more pages at the end after their relationship gets worked out. But on the whole, this was a thoroughly enjoyable story that has a slight Christmas theme, but it’s minor enough to make it a year-round read — and I’ll bet I’ll be re-reading it again sometime during 2011.