Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Review: Midnight Waltz

Midnight Waltz by Jennifer Blake

Bold Publication Date: August 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Inc.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: Paperback, 384pp
ISBN-13: 97814022384
(Received for an honest review from Sourcebooks)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Jennifer Blake on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter

Excerpt from Midnight Waltz



In the aristocratic world of magnificent plantations of nineteenth-century Louisiana, young Amalie knows how to behave as the new mistress at Belle Grove, but her arranged marriage to Julien Declouet is full of surprise.


Amalie finds her husband perfectly polite, although oddly aloof, by day, but a completely different man when he visits her in her chambers at night, full of white-hot emotions and passion that sweeps her away. As the steamy Louisiana summer swelters onward, and the mystery of her husband's dual personalities intensifies, Amalie finds herself engulfed in an emotional storm that threatens to wreak destruction on them all...


Jennifer Blake is known for her rich descriptive style and well researched historical novels. Her book, Midnight Waltz is no exception to the rule. Her characters are textured and multi-layered and the plot of the novel is engrossing. Readers will enjoy Blake's ability to describe Louisiana in the 1800's and the nuances of the Creole culture. This is a novel full of family secrets, steamy romance and the sultry Louisiana atmosphere.

Amalie Declouet is a young bride of an arranged married with Julien Declouet. She is innocent and inexperienced and hardly knows her new husband when goes to live on his plantation, Belle Grove. She begins to learn the ins and outs of plantation life, but Julien remains aloof and guarded. His mother and his cousin Robert are more welcoming and slowly give the reigns over to Amalie, as Julien is only concerned about his own pursuits and happiness. When he comes to her room in the dead of night one evening Amalie is surprised and his passionate response to her is as unnerving as his coldness is by day. How can she understand how Julien can be so indifferent to her by day and completely under her spell by night? What is the secret to their troubling relationship?

This is a book that readers won't soon forget. Set in 1800's Louisana, Midnight Waltz is full of rich period detail and many geographical and cultural references that readers will appreciate. Jennifer Blake is an author that understands when enough is enough. She doesn't bog the reader down with unnecessary information but gives just enough to educate as well as entertain. It is obvious from reading other books by Blake that she either has ties to Louisiana or is extremely interested in the area and it's people. I think she does an amazing job of bringing the time period to life for readers.

The overall premise of the book isn't exactly original, but the telling of it is. By that I mean that sometimes it's all about how you get there, the journey, instead of the conclusion. Most romance readers are looking for the happy-ever-after and they know they will get it, but getting there is the interesting part. I liked the fact that Blake veered from the norm in making Julien's look-a-like his cousin rather than a brother or a twin. I think readers can figure out from the description of the book that this is what's going on. There are definitely two men involved her and though some readers may take offense to the idea of Amalie being enamored with someone other than her husband, I think it made for a great story.

Julien and Robert are as different as night and day, just as the book alludes to. Both men have their own agenda's where Amalie is concerned. For Julien, the marriage was all about connection and the image it portrays of him, while Robert has other things on his mind. He finds it hard to keep away from Amalie and sees her more than just an object to make someone look good. To him she isn't a trophy wife, she's a woman. The romance between them makes for some steamy scenes that readers won't soon forget. Blake has a knack for writing sensual scenes that tend to stay in the readers mind even after the story has ended.

Some historical romances can become very formulaic. You have a set amount of situations your characters can find themselves in. They have constraints with the culture and time period of the book, they are issues with how the far they can stray from how a character would really act in that time, etc. But I think Blake works within the guidelines well, but she isn't afraid to push the boundaries a little bit and that makes her writing interesting and engaging.

I recommend this one to historical romance fans and mainstream romance readers. The historical references are there, but so is the heat. If you are looking for something that's not too bogged down with detail and full of passion and sensuality, then this one is for you!

Midnight Waltz is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Since publishing her first book at age twenty-seven, New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Jennifer Blake has gone on to write over sixty historical and contemporary romances. She brings the seductive passion of the South to her stories, reflecting her seventh-generation Louisiana heritage. Jennifer lives with her husband in northern Louisiana.

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