Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Fairy Tales #1

A Kiss at Midnight

Rate this book
Miss Kate Daltry doesn't believe in fairy tales . . . or happily ever after.

Forced by her stepmother to attend a ball, Kate meets a prince... and decides he's anything but charming. A clash of wits and wills ensues, but they both know their irresistible attraction will lead nowhere. For Gabriel is promised to another woman—a princess whose hand in marriage will fulfill his ruthless ambitions.

Gabriel likes his fiancee, which is a welcome turn of events, but he doesn't love her. Obviously, he should be wooing his bride-to-be, not the witty, impoverished beauty who refuses to fawn over him.

Godmothers and glass slippers notwithstanding, this is one fairy tale in which destiny conspires to destroy any chance that Kate and Gabriel might have a happily ever after.

Unless a prince throws away everything that makes him noble...

Unless a dowry of an unruly heart trumps a fortune...

Unless one kiss at the stroke of midnight changes everything.

384 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published July 27, 2010

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Eloisa James

129 books8,852 followers
New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James writes historical romances for HarperCollins Publishers. Her novels have been published to great acclaim. A reviewer from USA Today wrote of Eloisa's very first book that she "found herself devouring the book like a dieter with a Hershey bar"; later People Magazine raved that "romance writing does not get much better than this." Her novels have repeatedly received starred reviews from Publishers' Weekly and Library Journal and regularly appear on the best-seller lists.

After graduating from Harvard University, Eloisa got an M.Phil. from Oxford University, a Ph.D. from Yale and eventually became a Shakespeare professor, publishing an academic book with Oxford University Press. Currently she is an associate professor and head of the Creative Writing program at Fordham University in New York City. Her "double life" is a source of fascination to the media and her readers. In her professorial guise, she's written a New York Times op-ed defending romance, as well as articles published everywhere from women's magazines such as More to writers' journals such as the Romance Writers' Report.

Eloisa...on her double life:

When I'm not writing novels, I'm a Shakespeare professor. It's rather like having two lives. The other day I bought a delicious pink suit to tape a television segment on romance; I'll never wear that suit to teach in, nor even to give a paper at the Shakespeare Association of America conference. It's like being Superman, with power suits for both lives. Yet the literature professor in me certainly plays into my romances. The Taming of the Duke (April 2006) has obvious Shakespearean resonances, as do many of my novels. I often weave early modern poetry into my work; the same novel might contain bits of Catullus, Shakespeare and anonymous bawdy ballads from the 16th century.

When I rip off my power suit, whether it's academic or romantic, underneath is the rather tired, chocolate-stained sweatshirt of a mom. Just as I use Shakespeare in my romances, I almost always employ my experiences as a mother. When I wrote about a miscarriage in Midnight Pleasures, I used my own fears of premature birth; when the little girl in Fool For Love threw up and threw up, I described my own daughter, who had that unsavory habit for well over her first year of life.

So I'm a writer, a professor, a mother - and a wife. My husband Alessandro is Italian, born in Florence. We spend the lazy summer months with his mother and sister in Italy. It always strikes me as a huge irony that as a romance writer I find myself married to a knight, a cavaliere, as you say in Italian.

One more thing...I'm a friend. I have girlfriends who are writers and girlfriends who are Shakespeare professors. And I have girlfriends who are romance readers. In fact, we have something of a community going on my website. Please stop by and join the conversation on my readers' pages.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
5,412 (27%)
4 stars
7,299 (36%)
3 stars
5,335 (26%)
2 stars
1,360 (6%)
1 star
470 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,792 reviews
Profile Image for Jilly.
1,838 reviews6,245 followers
July 31, 2018
A Cinderella re-telling in Historical Romance? Count me in!

Except, well, Cinderella was always too much of a victim for me. So, when I met the heroine of this book, Kate, color me surprised. She fought with the evil stepmother constantly, and the only reason she would give in to the stepmother's demands was to protect the servants and tenant farmers. So, I liked her. Not doormatty at all. Plus, she was snarky.

In this story, she has to go to a ball disguised as her step-sister with her sister's fiance to get his uncle, the prince's, approval for the marriage. The prince lives in a castle and has a bunch of crazy relatives he is trying to support. Castle-living be expensive, yo. So, he is also supposed to get married to a Russian princess because she's bringing a big ol' dowry to the table. Hey, a prince gotta eat, right?

Don't answer that, Rob!

Along with meeting the prince, Kate also meets Henry, who is a woman. Her godmother. And, she is awesome! She's giving Kate a lot of good advice on men.

"Never marry anyone with fewer brains than yourself, darling. It always ends badly."

"I'm very fond of unquestioning adoration... One can't have too much of it, from dogs or men."

"Typical of a man. They always die inconveniently."

I was impressed.

There are several things that would usually trigger me in this book. Starting with the fact that Kate and the Prince fall too fast and are cheating on his fiance, but since this was a "fairy tale" I am willing to give a lot more leeway. Also, though, I would give a LOT of leeway for a book that is this well-written and witty. The banter in this book is amazing! So funny and smart! Even the side characters are so well-developed that I want their stories.

Profile Image for Shannon.
3,096 reviews2,383 followers
April 27, 2017
Kate: "I'm old and ugly and poor and too skinny. Oh woe is me."

Repeats ad nauseum until practically the last page.

Gabriel: "I'm a prince but I'm also a man. I'm a man but I'm also a prince. I have responsibilities. Oh woe is me."

Repeats ad nauseum until practically the last page.

Both: "This is like a fairy tale, but life is not a fairy tale. You're like a prince/princess in a fairy tale, but life is not a fairy tale. If only this were a fairy tale ..."

Author's note: "This is very much a fairy tale."

Throw in characters I didn't care about, a ridiculously conjured ruse of Kate pretending to be her step-sister for the entire book, "Oh, put a wig on Kate and wax breasts in her dress and none will be the wiser!" and insufferably long dialogue with nothing. ever. happening. and you have a really boring, trope-filled, unimaginative retelling of Cinderella.
Profile Image for UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish.
1,166 reviews1,636 followers
February 14, 2014

This is not your mama’s Cinderella story!

In A Kiss at Midnight we have a Godmother whose wisdom rivals any magic found in a wand, “rats” I wanted to love and cuddle and who’d be welcome at my house anytime, a stepsister who isn’t so wicked, and a step mother who is, a coach to whisk you away at the stroke of midnight, and a prince who is more than just charming, he’s a wonderful, honorable and a worthy human being – not to mention downright sexy!

This was such a delightful re-telling of the classic Cinderella fairytale, presented in a way that makes one believe that finding your very own Prince Charming could happen to anyone. As might be expected, this story is splendid, enchanting and funny, heartwarming and at times heartbreaking, but one thing your mama’s Cinderella didn’t have was the heat between our hero and heroine, Gabriel, the prince and the Kate Daltry, our very own, in the flesh, Cinderella.

I’m not going to spend time going over the plot details, as it’s really not necessary. Most all of us have either read the classic or seen this fairytale love story on the big screen, thanks to Walt Disney, and with the exception of a few minor twists to make this fit into “real life,” there’s no question about which fairytale A Kiss at Midnight is spun from.

I want to say, Ms. James, thank you for this lovely story. It had me smiling, sighing, laughing out loud and even crying. This is the first book I’ve read by you, and I’m hooked! I’m thrilled to hear that you’ll be writing more in this series and that Wick, dear Wick, will be getting his own story in a novella. Thank you!

Dear readers of my review, I urge you, if you’re in the mood for a light, feel good read, pick up this book and allow yourself to be swept away into this grown up Cinderella world, where insignificant little house maids can find their Prince Charming and together live their happily ever after.
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
940 reviews14k followers
February 5, 2020
Yay it's over.

This isn't good and isn't bad but I lowkey only read it because I want to read the sequel, which is a Beauty & the Beast retelling. This one didn't really follow Cinderella at all and was a lil confusing and not smutty enough to make up for how much I was bored. Still, the writing was fun, but now I'm not even sure if the sequel is worth it because this was meh. We shall see.
Profile Image for Warda.
1,209 reviews19.7k followers
November 3, 2020
I mean, it’s really great when a book messes up your emotions in this way. The downside to this though is that I can’t trust myself to review this properly. I’ll probably review my stances on love and dissect my feelings rather than this story.
The older I’m getting, the more I feel, ugh. Take me back to my stone days, please. I say whilst reading more and more romances.

Anyway the point I’m trying to make is that this story was pretty fuckin’ great. An amazing spin on Cinderella.
Profile Image for Felicia.
Author 46 books128k followers
September 14, 2010
I might be done with this genre of book. I wanted some brain candy and decided to pick one up after several months off the whole corset and rake thing. LOVE this author but this one did NOT do it for me, seemed a lot more predictable than her other Duchess stuff. Also, another reason why I'm over this genre is...


I know the reality is that chicks in this Regency period got married at 16 or whatever, but it is modern times now, and I'm tired of authors making the period "real" by making anyone over 18 "Old." So I guess that realism in the genre is gonna rule me out of purchases for a long time.

That said, there were some ok parts in this book, I just didn't feel the wit of the "regular" Eloisa James in this as much. Will pick up her next when I forget my rant in a few months.
Profile Image for Christina ~ Brunette Reader.
187 reviews313 followers
April 22, 2017

What an original and charming take on the traditional Perrault's storyline! But don't worry, you'll all the same get the selfish stepmother, the vacuous stepsister, a castle, a faux-glass slipper, a very particular version of "the rats" and an outrageously cheeky and meddling fairy godmother who gets the best lines.
Oh, and of course there are a prince and a down-on-her-luck heroine sharing a passionate and sexy romance.
Regency fluff at its best, with an engaging writing and sparkling dialogues.

Buddy-read with Anna :)
Profile Image for Laura.
Author 15 books600 followers
December 27, 2011
My friends Catherine and Uniquelymoi recommended this book to me, and it is official: they can recommend books to me anytime!

I started this really late, like 10 pm late. I just wanted to read a bit before bed. Big mistake. I got so caught up that I didn't stop reading til about 2 am when I finished the book!

I'm not a huge fan of any new takes on classic fairy tales, so this never rated high on my to-read list, but with the reviews my friends had given this book, I bumped it up. I loved it. I absolutely loved it. This Cinder girl was no doormat for her wicked step-mother, and her half-sister was a sweet girl. The prince was sinful, and the godmother wasn't a fairy by any means, but her "magic" was just as potent.

Kate's step-mother comes up with a "brilliant" (insert eye roll here) plan to pass Kate off as her sister Victoria at the court of some random prince's castle, since poor darling Victoria has an infected lip and looks dreadful. Victoria and her fiance Algie need this prince's approval to wed, or he won't get his inheritance. So, since Victoria can't go, Kate goes in her place. Mind you, they are half-sisters, so they only look a little bit alike. Victoria is a pampered and buxom 18 yr old debutante, while Kate is a 23 year old, skinny and tall, and well, she's Kate. But she agrees to this because the prince's approval is needed.

So off to meet the Prince.

Kate wears these awful wigs (I thought of Kiera Knightly in the Duchess with all those intricate and tall wigs) to disguise her hair, and she and the prince just crack me up.

One of my favorite things about this book is that Gabriel figured out fairly quickly, and early on, that she wasn't Victoria. I hate misunderstandings that take up the whole book, so luckily that wasn't the case here.

But his guess as to who she really was (he figured she was some illegitimate sister/commoner) irritated me that she didn't set him straight right away. But that little tiny thing is the only thing that bothered me at all. So, woot!

Our godmother comes in the form of Henry. She is fabulous! She absolutely stole the show. A fantastic character who, while she may not have had a magic wand, she did some fairly miraculous things. She made sure that Kate got her dowry, for one, thing. Offered her a place to live in London for another. And very succinctly had a way of putting busybodies in their place. bravo Henry! But her coup de grace was when Henry helped Kate get ready for the ball. She was the best godmother any girl could have. And Kate was able to go as herself, not her sister, so she didn't have to wear a wig, and her sweet sister let Kate shine, glass slippers and all. It was fabulous.

And our prince was in love with Kate from the first time she ignored his charming, princely self. so for him to even consider marrying the Russian princess infuriated me. But he was so wonderfully in love with Kate that I enjoyed for once seeing the hero pine for the heroine. It was sweet, and sultry and so wonderful.

Now, onto my favorite scene. I don't think I've ever done this before, but this was great. Our prince planned a night for Kate that she would never forget, and the best part was watching him strip. I say "watching" because it was so sinfully easy to visualize. It's always the alpha male having his woman strip for him, then he shucks his pants and climbs aboard (not that I don't enjoy that!). But here, he had Kate waiting in his chambers while he dressed for dinner, and he stripped in the most delicious way ever. The simple act of taking off his cufflinks became erotic when Gabriel turned his wrist over to Kate. Standing in only his shirtsleeves, with the front tenting up, and Kate not quite sure what to expect was great. But when he dressed in his silk breeches, and couldn't get his erection to go down, because Kate couldn't stop staring at it..well, let's just say I have a healthy imagination, so I had no trouble picturing that.

The ending was sweet, and the love story between the two was achingly beautiful. I haven't cried over a book in a while, and several times I had tears dripping down my cheeks. But I also laughed out loud several times with Kate channeling Cesar Milan the dog whisperer for the little "rats." One of whom Henry kept. And the banter back and forth between Kate and Dante, or Gabriel or even Wick, Gabriel's brother.

So, thank you to Catherine and Uniquelymoi for this wonderful book, and I blame you both for me only getting 4 hrs of sleep!

Profile Image for Shawna.
3,549 reviews4,575 followers
September 19, 2010
3 ½ stars – Historical/Fairy Tale Romance

I had a hard time getting into this book and the first 200 or so pages really dragged for me. To be fair, my lack of enthusiasm was, at least partly, because I probably just wasn’t in the right mood or frame of mind for it. My frustration for about a third of the story was that there were too many characters and just way too much going on, so things were a bit muddled. The main H/H, Kate and Gabriel, seemed to get a bit lost in the chaos and there wasn’t nearly enough interaction between them, so it didn’t even feel much like a romance for a significant portion of the story. So up until around page 202, it was really looking like this would be a 2 star read.

But then, to my pleasant surprise, once the flirtation and romance between Kate and Gabriel picked up momentum and their characters finally sparked to life, my interest peaked. Their love scenes were achingly tender, utterly romantic, and lushly sensual. Although it took a while for Kate and Gabriel to become a believable romantic couple, once that happened, I found myself rooting strongly for their HEA. Thus, the last 150 pages or so, especially the beautiful, steamy love scenes, made reading and sticking with this through the slow and cluttered parts truly worth it and boosted my rating. And the ending and epilogue were sweet icing on the cake. 3 ½ stars.
Profile Image for Eleni Ouzouni (Life is Art).
272 reviews131 followers
August 30, 2020
"Φοβάμαι ότι θα μου ραγίσεις την καρδιά..."
"Η δική μου είναι ήδη ραγισμένη"

To "Ένα φιλί τα μεσάνυχτα" είναι το απόλυτα ρομαντικό μυθιστόρημα, φοβερά ανάλαφρο και ευχάριστο, με χαρακτήρες ζωντανούς και ταυτόχρονα με μια ενδιαφέρουσα πλοκή μιας και έχουμε να κάνουμε με την παραλλαγή του κλασσικού παραμυθιού της Σταχτοπούτας με μια όμως δόση πιο καυτή, σκανδαλιάρικη, γεμάτη μαγική χρυσόσκονη, έρωτες, παλάτια και ατελείωτες κόντρες. Από εκεί και πέρα δεν σας κρύβω πως δεν τα βρήκα όλα τέλεια, κάτι μου έλειπε -- κάτι που δεν μπορώ να προσδιορίσω απόλυτα. Ενώ και οι διάλογοι κυρίως από την πλευρά του ανδρικού χαρακτήρα (Γκάμπριελ) ήταν παρά πάνω μελοδραματική προς το τέλος για τα δικά μου προσωπικά γούστα αλλά και κυρίως για το ύφος του βιβλίου. Αν εξαιρέσεις όμως αυτό το μικρό κομμάτι ήταν ένα βιβλίο που απόλαυσα. Την χρειαζόμουν αυτήν την μαγεία και τον γλυκό έρωτα! Ενώ ανυπομονώ για την έκδοση του δεύτερου βιβλίου που ακολουθεί την Πεντάμορφη και το Τέρας

Αναλυτική κριτική θα βρείτε στο LIFE IS ART!

Profile Image for Katherine.
778 reviews355 followers
November 5, 2017
"'Let me sum it up for you: Kate, very sensibly, shows no interest in you. Frightened by the imminent arrival of your bride, you are now running shrieking in the other direction of the one woman who not only doesn't want you, but isn't eligible. Really, could you be a bit more original?'"

Synopsis: Cinderella must pretend to be Drusilla for a week so that Drusilla can be approved to marry a puff pastry named Algie, all while being seduced by the one man who needs to approve the union, Prince Charming.

Dream and Your Wish Might Be Bad: First of all, despite what the author would like you to think (including a rather desperate pleading for you to think so in a historical footnote), this is SOOOO not a Cinderella retelling. This is just another historical romp through the Regency era, albeit a bad one. The bare bones plot of Cinderella is there, but everybody else is horrible. Prince Charming is a cad, Cinderella is annoying, the Stepmother acts like she ascended from the 13th Realm of hellfire and damnation, and Victoria (the stepsister) is decidedly not evil. If Before Midnight by Cameron Dokey and this book met, they would have a lot in common. In the sense that though they claim to be Cinderella retellings, they aren’t really ones at all.

North South West: I’m not quite sure if author was really serious when it came to naming her characters, or whether it was supposed to be all one big joke. But what can’t be denied is the absolute ridiculousness of the names in this book.

Biggitstaff. Mr. Cherryderry. Algerernon, nicknamed Algie by Victoria (you nicknamed him after a type of fungus, really?!!) And best of all….

Gabriel Albrecht-Frederick William von Aschenberg of Warl-Marburg Baalsfeld.

Yes, that’s his real, God-given name. And I thought North West was bad. This is absolutely ridiculous. Not only that, can you imagine what a pain in ass it must have been for the servants to try and fetch the dude when he was a kid. It must’ve taken them at least five minutes for them to get the damn name out, and then they probably would’ve passed out from oxygen deprivation.

To Cad or Not to Cad?: Said prince with the long name (I’m just calling him Gabe, because my fingers would murder me if I tried to type out that name every single time), couldn’t really make up his mind whether or not he wanted to be a dick. On the one hand, he could be extremely irritating and wouldn’t take no for an answer (both literally and figuratively). On the other hand, the author decided to make him an Indiana Jones type intellectual who loves archaeology and would rather be in the dust and bones of the desert digging up pottery rather than being a prince. I never did find him appealing as a romantic hero, particularly towards the end, but I guess that was just part of his complicated character.

Relationship Status? It’s Complicated: Gabriel and Kate really couldn’t decide what their relationship status was. It sort of played out like this:

Kate: Please don’t kiss me!
Gabe: I’m gonna do it anyways.
Kate: Nevermind, please do kiss me. But don’t even think about taking my virginity.
Gabe: :Yanks off his shirt to showcase his washboard abs:
Kate: What was I saying?

:Rips off her dress:

It was so ducking infuriating.

The Case of the Disappearing Prince Charming: So the whole obstacle in Kate and Gabe’s complicated relationship is that Gabe is set to wed a beautiful Russian princess Tatiana. She was actually… nice. There wasn’t anything bad about her. She was rather sweet. She wasn’t catty, she wasn’t bitchy, she was just a nice, normal gal (or as normal as a princess can be). And what does Gabriel do during their coming out ball for their engagement. He locks Kate in his bedroom, runs down to the ball, and then proceeds to run up to his tower two or three times in order to give Kate the best orgasms of her life. All while his fiancé is at the ball.

Look, I’m already opposed to cheating. But when the cheating occurs on someone who so obviously doesn’t deserve or warrant is just plain wrong. It tainted my idea of Gabe and Kate as a couple permanently, and coupled with the fact that this was supposed to be a Cinderella retelling made the book just ridiculous.

Forget the Slipper, I Want the Godmother: This book probably would’ve only gotten one star if it weren’t for the bright shining character that was Kate’s godmother Henrietta (but please, call her Henry). She’s not a fairy, but what she makes up for in supernatural abilities she makes up for in absolute hilarious dialogue. With the appearance of Cathy Bates and the banter of Whoopi Goldberg, Henry teaches Kate to be a proper lady in society, since Kate is so woefully uneducated. I want Henry just to follow me around and narrate my entire life for me, she’s that good. If there had been more Henry and
Not even the most talented fairy godmother can save this disaster of a Cinderella retelling due to a caddish hero, an indecisive heroine, and a plot that resembles nothing to Perrault’s fairy tale.
Profile Image for Ginger.
789 reviews373 followers
January 13, 2018
Really good retelling of Cinderella!

I loved both characters of Kate and the Prince of Marburg, Gabriel. Both were written to be witty, honorable and likable characters.
The chemistry between the two was well done and you could tell they were interested in each other, more then just lust. It really didn't start until about 40% in when they were actually interacting more with each other and the plot had been developed.
Lots of secondary characters in the book and I really enjoyed them as well, especially Henry!

Yes, there were some rats (actually small dogs), a Godmother and of course some glass slippers. It was well written and I definitely enjoyed this historical romance!
Profile Image for Didi.
865 reviews287 followers
March 5, 2015
I love fairytale re-tellings and even with this book taking liberties, it was very good and beautifully written. This is my second book by EJ, and I like her style. She hasn't reached the pinnacle of genius like writers Lisa Kleypas and Sherry Thomas in HR, but I enjoy her stuff and may very well need to read more of her work.
Gabriel was quite the sensual man, his characterization was so sexy, with his dark, long hair and sexy seductive accent. I adored his responsibility to his family in the midst of trying to live his own dreams. As a prince, he was more limited in doing what he wanted but he definitely knew WHO he wanted. And it wasn't his chosen princess from Russia, Tatiana. Kate Daltry captured his affections early on and watching him slowly realize she was the ONLY woman for him was sweet. I loved Kate, a great heroine who was quite similar to Gabriel in familial obligations. Together they were electric and the last third was very difficult to put down. This of course ended on a very sweet and fantastical note. The short letter Gabriel sent to Kate towards the end was disarming. He only wrote two sentences but the sheer power behind them was incredible. The epilogue wasn't even needed but was a cute insertion.

I heard the rest of the series is great and I'm looking forward to continuing, especially with the re-telling of Beauty And The Beast theme. Anyways, a great story with a lovely cast, I really liked it.
Profile Image for Anne E ♡ emo + OTT Hs.
224 reviews118 followers
March 25, 2022
DNF @ 3%. Surprising because I've enjoyed most Eliosa James' books. May continue later. But when I stopped reading it in order to pick up an old copy of Peole magazine about JLo & Ben Affleck's romance, I knew I was done.

2 things that already bugged me:
1. h's name is Kate and she thought & acted like Taking of the Shrew's Kate. This Kate us supposed to be like Cinderella. But I didn't find her sweet or kind or likable in general. She was snippy, rebellious, and confrontational.
2. Contemporary 21st-century American English dialogue set in 17th or 18th century Europe. Sprinkled with adjectives like "bloody", "faintest", "positively" to make it sound British ;_(
Profile Image for WhiskeyintheJar.
1,319 reviews543 followers
February 16, 2022
2.3 stars

“I did it,” Gabriel said, conversationally. “I met the woman, the only woman for me. I met her, and now I’m going to meet my wife.”

This month's TBRChallenge theme was Fairy Tale, last year I did a Beauty and the Beast because my tbr is full of that theme as it happens to be a personal favorite. I wanted to switch it up this year so I went with a Cinderella inspired. I got this book from a garage sale around 6 years ago and since I've read James before, I figured I would generally like it.

“Why did Caesar bite Victoria, anyway? I never thought to ask.”
“She was feeding him from her mouth.”
“Holding a piece of meat between her lips and encouraging him to take it from her. Foolish business, coming between a dog and his meat.”
Kate shuddered. “That is disgusting.”

Look, it was a bit rough of a start between me and the heroine Kate, she was pretty vocal about not liking her step-sister's three little doggies. I'm an avowed crazy dog lady, who, maybe this is too much information, could hold a treat between my teeth and let my Rottweiler take it out of my mouth. I never got bite once and, obviously, don't find it as odd/disgusting as Kate. She also said this about the doggies: She disliked her stepsister’s pack of little dogs, affectionately, or not so affectionately, known to all as the rats. Granted, I'm not big on little Maltese dogs but calling them rats had me growing cold towards Kate even more. I graciously read on and decided to give the heroine time to improve her attitude.

With that personal huffiness aside, the beginning of this was chaotic, we get the basic set-up of Kate's mother dying when she was in her early teens, her father remarrying two weeks later, and then her father dying pretty soon after to leave her with a step-mother and step-sister a couple years younger than her. Leaning into the Cinderella inspiration, the step-mother doesn't share any of the inheritance the father left her with Kate, gives it to her daughter Victoria as a dowry and does her best to bankrupt the estate. Kate gets moved to the attic and basically treated like a servant. Kate wants to leave to start her own life but feels guilty leaving the tenants to fend for themselves. What starts off this whole story is that Victoria's lip is infected from the dog bite and she was supposed to travel with her betrothed to meet his uncle, who just so happens to be a prince. They can't postpone the meeting because Victoria and the betrothed have been anticipating the wedding night for three months and Victoria is pregnant, they planned on getting married after meeting the prince, the betrothed's mother won't let them get married until the prince approves. For some reason that didn't quite make sense to me, Victoria's lip can't be seen in public so the mother concocts the plan that Kate will take her place and pretend to be Victoria. They sort of resemble each other because, GASP!, they are actually sisters, Kate's father was cheating on her SICK mother and after the SICK mother dies, marries his mistress. This plan really made no sense to me.

Gabriel Albrecht-Frederick William von Aschenberg of Warl-Marburg-Baalsfeld

Our prince, of the many fabulous names, has his own trials going on. His oldest brother is going through it back in the home country and has decided to lean in hard to the teachings of a religious zealot. Because of this, he has kicked out anyone not willing to become devout and Gabriel has taken the heathen relatives, friends, and workers with him to England. He feels guilty leaving them on their own, I guess. Personally, he's always wanted to be an archaeologist but the callings of duty. However, he's a poor prince and must marry a rich Russian princess, who is making her way to England, where if everything goes according to plan, they will become betrothed at the Ball.

She turned around, mouth open. “You can’t go about trying to seduce young ladies!” she squeaked.
“If I weren’t betrothed already, I would consider marrying you.”

You can probably tell where this is going, but it wasn't quite as predictable as I thought it was going to be. Kate and Gabriel meet and have an instant attraction but by 30% Gabriel knows who Kate really is and why Victoria isn't there to meet him. We learn that Gabriel's majordomo is his illegitimate half-brother and along with how he feels responsible for everyone, connections are there for Kate and Gabriel to bond. The problem was that with the chaotic beginning, we don't really get to sit with characters, Kate and Gabriel especially together, and that ruined some emotional connection between them.

“Oh damn,” he said, and there was a kind of hoarse hunger in his voice that spoke of truth, “I wish you were my Russian princess.”

The first half also introduces us to Kate's godmother, Henry. Kate didn't know about her and due to Henry loving Kate's father but him choosing an heiress over her and then Henry being barren and Kate's father not understanding her grief and thinking naming Henry godmother would make her feel better, they never connected over the years. But what is Cinderella without the godmother? Henry played her part well and helped to give love, life, and fashion advice to Kate. Around the midway point, Kate and Gabriel finally start to spend sometime together and while they have some nice conversations, this couple was really more about the teasing and foreplay. I do like how they didn't just jump to sex and some of the teasing seduction scenes were played out well but I kept wishing some of the side characters and their stories had been pushed to the side more so that we could have gotten to know Gabriel more and Kate and Gabriel as a couple could have shown me more of the mental emotional reasons they were falling/in love. They were really more of a bedroom couple.

And then she knew what the emotion in his eyes was. It was despair, and rage—and love. Love. “Gabriel,” she said, with a little gasp.

With his Russian princess arriving any day, Gabriel makes a bet with Kate that if he restores the reputation of a girl Kate has befriended, she must let him kiss her. They've kissed and fooled around at this point but both keep saying Kate can't give up her virginity to him. The night of the Ball, Gabriel organizes things to have Kate up in his turret room and they have a fairly steamy seduction sessions with Gabriel having to go downstairs to be with his Russian princess and then sneaking up to continue the seduction with Kate. It starts to feel like, Gabriel, my man, Stop. But we need that ending angst. At 80% they have sex and still think Gabriel will marry the princess and Kate will go with Henry to London to find a husband. Of course when Kate is leaving, she loses one of her “glass” slippers.

His foot brushed something. He bent down. It was one of Kate’s glass slippers. It shimmered in his hand, as delicate and absurd as any bit of feminine nonsense he’d ever seen in his life. He said it aloud, because there was no reason to be silent. “I am—undone. She has undone me.” And his hand closed around the glass slipper.

The next chapter jumps to 41 days have passed and Kate is depressed in London but of course, Gabriel shows up and does a romantic thing and happily ever after with an epilogue. The money problem gets solved with a book advance(??????) (have to remember back to Gabriel wanting to be an archaeologist) and Kate's dowry wasn't as stolen as she thought. This is definitely not a leave your family on pilgrimage to find this book and read it, but it had some nice moments. The step-sister not being evil/mean was a nice turn and Henry as the godmother was a treat but I never felt like Gabriel was a full character, would have loved more of him and his half-brother Wick, and Kate and Gabriel's relationship was more in the teasing seduction than feeling romantically complete. There were some odd/uncommon additives in this (a lion who maybe eats dogs who eat pickled food, all the secondary character probably/maybe not needed side-stories, and I can't let this go, a butler named Cherryderry) that made it feel chaotic and stole away from the romance of the main couple. You probably won't be bored because of the “what's that now??” quality but I can't say you'll be romanced either.
(I know you all are wondering and yes, Kate sort of changed her mind about the doggies, at least one of them anyway and became a dog lady herself :)
Profile Image for Angela.
3,199 reviews371 followers
November 27, 2015
27 November 2015: $2.99 on Kindle

23 September 2015: $1.99 on Kindle
2 September 2015: $3.99 on Kindle
9 June 2015: $1.99 on Kindle
4 March 2015: $2.99 on Kindle
27 January 2015: $2.99 on Kindle
6/13/2012: $0.99

3.5 Stars I think. A slow start kept me from getting into right away, and it took me a little bit to start to feel anything more than 'meh' for Kate. But after it started to pick up, I loved it. Gabriel is awesome. Secondary characters are fantastic. And the romance is sigh worthy. Ending? Fantastic.
Profile Image for Anne.
4,060 reviews69.5k followers
December 5, 2010
4.5 Stars. If you like the story of Cinderella, then you'll love this! I love the way Eloisa James re-told the story without any magic, but still managed to make it magical.
Profile Image for willaful.
1,155 reviews370 followers
March 30, 2011
What a difficult book to rate... 1/2 bleh + 1/2 awesome = ?

A fairly faithful retelling of “Cinderella,” set in some vaguely Georgian/Regency-ish period, this is the story of Kate, a dispossessed daughter and Gabriel, a prince in need of a wealthy wife. The first half of the book reads like James was channeling Christina Dodd at her weirdest: a scattered, muddled, mishmash of characters, plot and conversations. There’s a bit of sardonic wit, but nothing that made me want to continue; I persisted only because I’d read that it improved.

And it did indeed. When Gabriel and Kate begin to seriously interact, the story becomes the most wonderful, tantalizing seduction, with scenes so intimate that you hardly notice that at first they barely touch. There was no annoyance on my part that this couple takes forever to get into bed; I could have read them seducing each other with words for much longer.

And my heart broke for them, as they realized, over and over, that they couldn’t possibly be together. The man who has to marry someone else is one of my very favorite historical romance tropes, and I love the suppressed pain we see in the Prince, as he struggles to do what he sees as his duty:

“‘I did it,’ Gabriel said, conversationally. ‘I met the woman, the only woman for me. I met her, and now... I’m going to meet my wife.’”

It's a shame this wasn't fantastic all the way through, the way When Beauty Tamed the Beast was. But since the parts that were good were just so, so good, I have to recommend it.
Profile Image for Mo.
1,363 reviews2 followers
May 31, 2018
I ended up finishing it but it dragged a lot in the middle!

Not sure why I couldn't really engage with the main characters.

Profile Image for Yona Ceaser.
102 reviews16 followers
January 1, 2022
Eloisa James books always have a good strong powerful premise, but then you get 60% of the way through the book and your waiting for it to be over 😣
Profile Image for KarenH.
189 reviews173 followers
August 15, 2010
When we were little girls, we all knew the story of Cinderella...the rags to riches to rags plight of an impoverished beauty who is granted one unforgettable night at a glorious ball with a handsome prince. That might have been a long time ago but none of us has forgotten the love story of Cinderella and her Prince Charming...and the most romantic "happily ever after" in fairy-tale land. A Kiss at Midnight is Eloisa James' gift to those little girls - all grown up now but still believing in the magic of true love, handsome heroes and the perfect, fairy-tale ending.

This story doesn't have any paranormal tweaks...no rats becoming footmen or pumpkins transformed into carriages. It does, however, have a most charming prince who studies archeology and a palace full of odd animals and even stranger people who the prince has taken under his wing. Alas! What an enormous expense it is to keep them all and so Prince Gabriel is resigned to accepting his arranged betrothal to a wealthy Russian princess.

Kate Daltry has been living the life of a cast-aside relation for many years. Once her father died, Kate's stepmother completely took over their London estate and set about making Kate's stepsister the belle of the ton. The stepsister, Victoria, manages to snag a peer but due to unfortunate circumstances, cannot accompany said peer to visit his uncle, the prince, to receive a royal blessing on the union. Kate is forced to go in Victoria's place.

From their first encounter, sparks fly between Kate and Gabriel - and a battle of wits ensues. They are, however, most intrigued by each other; and, managing to spend a great deal of quality time together, are helpless to falling in love. Soon the battle of wits that brought them together transforms, over the course of the story, into a conscientious battle between right and wrong...between letting love rule and loving enough to let go. Add to this dilemma a princess who is not only beautiful but has a sweet countenance as well...also enamored with the prince and by all means has the rights to him...and you've got a twist on the story that no longer resembles the fairy tale. There are many laugh-out-loud moments and a few poignant, tearful scenes made that much worse because there really are no wicked stepmothers to blame for what can never be between Kate and Gabriel. Evil thy name is fate...indestructible and eternal.

Do not lose sight of your girlhood fantasy, however, as James works a little magic of her own to make things right. And don't be caught up with any historical inadequacies you find (as James points out at the end of the book). Simply take it as it's been presented to you...a grownup version of Cinderella written precisely for the incurable romantic that you undoubtedly are. Perhaps, when you are finished reading the book, you will close your eyes and dream...of beautiful ball gowns, sinfully handsome princes, and the glass slipper you left behind.

5* stars

Profile Image for Angela Reads Romance.
493 reviews218 followers
March 26, 2023
I’m trying to think of a Cinderella retelling I liked as much as this one and I’m coming up short. All I can think of is Benedict Bridgerton’s book and this one is so much better than that. Light years better. Exceptionally better. Replace season three of Bridgerton with this instead, better.

The heroine is so mean to the hero and I think that’s why I liked it so much. Ya know, Cinderella is usually meek and obvs we feel bad for her because her dad is dead and her stepmom sucks and she’s basically a servant in her own house. The book starts with Kate giving no Fs about her stepmom and being so rude and just freaking…awesome. She’s like Cinderella with a backbone. Cinderella who takes one look at the prince and is like, “Yikes.”

I am an absolute sucker for a hero that falls for the only girl who didn’t instantly fall for him. Eloisa James writes, “Be mean to me because I like it,” vibes so well and I was FEELING IT in this book.

Loved this take on this book so much and I’m so excited for this series!
Profile Image for Nisha.
788 reviews239 followers
March 22, 2011
After hearing raves about this series (specifically When Beauty Tamed the Beast), I decided that I should finally read Ms. James' book. I knew going in, it was a take on Cinderella, and I was quite prepared for it. What I was not prepared for was Ms. James' writing. More on that, later.

Kate, our Cinderella, has a dead (philandering when he was alive) father, a vain and slightly evil stepmother, and a newly acknowledged beautiful, but kind half-sister. Through some convoluted situation where said half-sister gets bitten by her dog before meeting a prince who has to approve her engagement with her beau, Kate is 'encouraged' to dress up and play her half-sister to save the girl's impending marriage (half-sister is preggers). And so, Kate accompanies the simple minded, Algie (the beau) to the foreign prince's castle. Gabriel appears to be every bit of an arrogant, self-centered prince, who is engaged to marry Princess Tatiana. He develops a fascination toward Kate, first seducing her, then befriending her, and finally loving her. And we discover that the Prince is a much more honorable man than we assumed. To protect his dependents, he chooses to marry money instead of following his heart. Still, he cannot resist the passion between him and Kate, even as he knows that following it would hurt them both.

We get a great ensemble of secondary characters, the half-sister, Victoria; her beau, Algie (he became quite adorable); the Prince's all-seeing half-brother, Wick; the elegantly dressed, Toloose; Kate's Godmother, Henry; her husband, Leo (I thought they were a great pair); the dramatic Lady Effie; the three ridiculous yet lovable Maltese, Caesar, Freddie and Coco; the perfect princess bride, Princess Tatiana; and of course, the Prince's elderly relatives (don't remember their names now, but they were fun). All of them were wonderfully entertaining and EJ unwittingly endears us, readers, to them.

But, like someone before me said, the first 200 (or more like 150) pages were unfocused and kinda boring (though not unentertaining, does that make any sense?). No real romance or even interaction leading to love takes place. Ms. James' writes in a very entertaining way, that at first seemed almost mean and condescending (maybe that's just me, since this is my first EJ book). But after a while, I could appreciate the wit without being offended. She builds a fantasy world, rather than following the HR vein, and creates a fairy tale, embellishing with quirky, but lovable characters, sensational love scenes, and true emotion.

And that's what won me over and forced me to rate this 5 stars. I adored the last third of the book. The romance between Kate and Gabriel came alive and the drama picks up. I loved how no one was a bad guy and that everyone had flaws, even our hero and heroine. Kate succumbs to her passion, despite the consequences (though she enforces the usage of a french letter) and Gabriel chooses duty while hurting his one true love.

This was such a gorgeous story and I would recommend it to everyone who loves a fairy tale. Fair warning, this is not a historical romance, even if there was no magic. I just hope that everyone else would enjoy this book as much as I did.
Profile Image for Addie.
511 reviews250 followers
October 17, 2018
Oh dear, I see so many of my goodreads friends loved this one, so here's an unpopular opinion.

It just didn't work for me. I was not charmed or drawn to Gabriel, their relationship or anything in between. Two many whimsical characters and story lines.

There is an impressive long tension / seduction scene that I have not come across before that pulled the book up from 1 star to 2 stars. But that's it - frankly I was a bit bored.


It took me AGES to finish it, and I actually gave up at about 30% - then pressed through after seeing the reviews from friends, but it was an uphill battle. Maybe I'm a bit out of sync, there's a lot of S**T going on in the world at the moment.

Profile Image for Elizabeth.
Author 36 books6,759 followers
October 18, 2010
A KISS AT MIDNIGHT is simply enchanting! The heroine is intelligent and strong, the hero is sexy and just a bit dangerous, and the secondary characters are delightfully charming. One of the best books I've read in years!
Profile Image for Hannah B..
881 reviews1,315 followers
January 24, 2022
✨Ah yes, the classic no-I-didn’t-read-the-sex-book-you-left-me-(because the penises were much smaller than yours and not satisfying to look at)-so-I-actually-read-your-archeological-journals foreplay✨

I did not ask to cry no I did not egads but that ending. Maybe I’m just destined to love everything Eloisa writes I’m not sure but I’d be totally okay with that journey. I started this one and then had a bunch of things to do and other things to read so I took a break. But even the large gap between my starting and finishing this book couldn’t stop me from loving it completely.

I just love Eloisa’s writing and how she manages to make these fairytales fresh and emotional and sexy and funny. Her humor is one of my favorite things about her writing. The *little things* she has characters do and say are on another level. The small intimacies between the main characters, side characters, animals just really take my breath away. Gabriel’s relationship with Wick was lovely.

I loved the depth to her relationship to the “wicked” stepsister and even the stepmother. I loved the advice Henry gave to Kate about letting Gabriel step up and do the right thing. I loved that it wasn’t really a fight at the end. I loved the ending and how he came back and she let him. I even loved just his note asking for her to come back. I loved the side characters and their fairytale endings. I loved the four years in the future glance. I loved the epilogue and how it made me cry. I loved it all okay?

Gabriel was drunk on love and it was a great time watching him get Kate alone. His grand plan of having Kate *locked* away in the tower during the ball was so fucking sexy. He kept coming back throughout the night and it really did me in. The sex scenes were great and surprisingly funny. I loved when he was like oh my god I’m hurting you! Distraught in the best way. They were both so gone for each other and I was so gone for them. It was slower burn but the payoff was worth it. I did want that promised *kissing* scene to be more than a sentence but it’s fine.

It was truly heartbreaking when they decided they couldn’t be together. They were just so in love and knew that they had met their soulmate at the worst possible time. I actually liked and respected the decisions they each made throughout the book and was never angry when they didn’t think they could be together. I found it all made sense even if it was sad. I’m also happy the princess was never made out to be a villain, nor the stepsister. Even the stepmother had layers and I appreciated the conversation Kate had with Victoria at the end.

I started this book off not as intrigued as The Ugly Duchess or When Beauty Tamed the Beast. Like I said, it was slow burn and I did set it down for a while. But I still think it was a solid 4⭐️ read in that time because the attraction was there from hello and Eloisa was as funny and charming as ever. But yeah, the ending really punched me in the face and kissed it better.

The last third of the book definitely convinced me to give this book five stars. It got me to cry and wallow in romantic tears. Next thing you know I’ll be standing on a gloomy cliffside solemnly clutching an oversized knit cardigan, long skirt whipping in the wind around my legs while I think about the epilogue. Where’s MY epilogue goddamnit???

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 🌶🌶🌶.5/5

P.S. I definitely recommend buying used copies of these books if you can because the stepbacks are works of art. You can read the series in any order you please because they aren’t connected save for the common thread of fairytale retellings.

*Spoiler* I also loved that Gabriel was truly happy that she had money. It’s funny, I had just listened to a Fated Mates episode where they were talking about how the heroine can never simply be happy that the man is rich. She can like the fancy clothes and such but she can’t ever comment “thank fuck you’re handsome but also rich because it makes my life better.” It was fun for Gabriel to be obviously in love without the fortune but still fricken jazzed.
Profile Image for Catherine.
523 reviews551 followers
August 19, 2010
What a fun book! There's just something special about reading a new twist on a classic story. The romance developed faster than I usually like, but I was expecting that going in. Cinderella doesn't spend months with the prince before falling in love, so how can I expect something different from Kate?

Katherine Daltry, or Kate as she prefers to be called, gets suckered into pretending to be her stepsister, Victoria, for a few days by her stepmother. Kate would be the first person to tell you the deception wouldn't work, but she bargains her cooperation for help for one of the tenants. After Kate's father died her stepmother started letting the estate run ragged and not doing properly by her tenants.

Kate doesn't stay with her stepmother and stepsister because she couldn't go somewhere else. She could, she has nothing against going away to be a governess. She just can't stand to abandon her duty to her father's estate. What would happen if she wasn't there to help at least a little? But duty can weigh heavy after a while. Kate is ready for a change.

The beginning started rather slowly for me. I found myself bored up until we got to the castle. I wasn't discouraged though. I find that Eloisa James doesn't really shine until there's heavy character interaction and dialogue. When that shows up the book just starts to pop!

I was amused by Gabriel and Kate's interaction. They had so much humor and fun in their conversations. I loved all their flirting! Gabriel was the romantic and Kate was the realist. I thought it was hilarious when Gabriel quoted one of Romeo's lines to Kate and she ruins the moment by asking if he kills himself right after that.

The author kept a lot of the original story elements. There were glass slippers and a midnight ball and even some rats running around. Although the rats aren't literally rats, thank goodness! There's even a godmother, who has to be my favorite character in the whole book.

The godmother, Henry, has a sad past, but she doesn't let it rule her life and she's the best adviser that Kate could ever ask for. She's open to whatever her niece decides, and even encourages her to embrace her naughty side once in a while. I loved watching her interact with her husband. They seem like they have a great relationship, even if he does have a problem or two. I loved how honest Henry was about everything and how she was there for Kate no matter what. I loved the talk she gave Kate about giving Gabriel one more chance to man up and then what to do if he didn't. I've wanted to give that speech to so many romance heroines!

If you're bothered by historical inaccuracies, let me help you out. The author discusses her free and loose use of period language in the Historical Note at the end of the book. I wasn't bothered by it, but you might be.

This wasn't my favorite book by this author, but I still enjoyed it. I felt the relationship was underdeveloped, but what was there was a lot of fun. The ending was a bit too cutesy for me, but I don't blame the author for wanting to go out with a very sweet HEA for her fairytale.

P.S. The "bosom friends" were hilarious. I need to google to see if they really did that!
Profile Image for Duchess Nicole.
1,258 reviews1,547 followers
February 19, 2012
What a beautiful story! Eloisa James does a lovely job of staying true to the whimsical, ultra romantic aspect of a fairy tale in this retelling of Cinderella. And boy, was it romantic!

Kate is the orphaned girl, with the evil stepmother who basically strips her wealth and status from her after her father's death and passes it on to her own daughter. I like how this element of the story was portrayed. The step-family isn't really evil, they're simply selfish. The step mother isn't even a big part of the story. And the step sister is basically oblivious. So it takes away the villain aspect and lets you focus on the romance.

Kate is such a wonderful woman. She's accepted her lot in life, though she knows that she deserves better. But she's found a satisfaction and contentment that is admirable. She doesn't think much of her looks, as they are vastly different from what is considered beautiful. She's been worked skinny, with tan skin and callused hands. Of course, she doesn't see herself as everyone else does.

But one thing leads to another, and she is sent to pose as her sister at the home of a foreign prince. Here we meet Prince Gabriel, a man whose responsibilities weigh heavily on his honorable shoulders. He, of course, is drawn to the brown skinned, scrawny woman. He cannot fathom why, but he finds himself seeking her out. She unwittingly brings out his mischievous, playful side. And she doesn't fawn over him, which at first annoys him. Then he realizes that he is allowed to be himself, and that he is falling for this honest, beautiful, mysterious woman claiming to be someone she is not. Yet his duty to his family and country inhibits their relationship, until time runs out. Gabriel must make a final decision, possibly the most important one of his life.

By the time I got to the part with the inevitable glass slipper, I was madly in love with this book. It's absolutely, lusciously romantic. Just the kisses are erotic.

"...I can't imagine why you're here with me, but I know that you should be in your castle with your guests."
"For some reason, I'm mad about your kisses, Kate."
Oooooh, shivers! Here's one more:

"Do tell," Gabriel said. "Were they kissing the way we do?"
He had pulled off his cravat, and his shirt revealed a triangle of chest. It was vastly improper. Kate pulled her gaze away. "We don't kiss in any particular way," she corrected him. "We may have exchanged a few kisses in the past, but-"
"We kiss as if the bloody room had burst on fire," he interrupted. "We kiss as if making love didn't exist and kissing was all there was."

Gotta love a man who knows how to kiss! And...other things. Wonderful story, told by one of my favorite historical romance authors. And this book proves why. I am so glad that this is the first of a series.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,792 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.