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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Midnight Waltz by Jennifer Blake

Midnight Waltz by Jennifer Blake
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (357 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Camellia

He possessed Amalie by the moon's sultry glow and sent her to the white-hot limits of ecstatsy. But by day, her husand, Julien Declouet, remained aloof. Who was this myserious man whose languid caress and sweet seduction she craved? Yet deep in her heart, she knew the answer. Her midnight lover was not her husband, but his handsome cousin, Robert....

On a warm, dark night in Creole country of Louisiana, mid-nineteenth century, Amalie Peachier Declouet wonders why any woman would call what had just happened, a duty. It was pleasure like she’d never realized could be—pure ecstasy that left her feeling complete and loved. She was, indeed, a married woman now in every sense of the word--not a spinster left on the self after six years of mourning with no prospects.

Julian Declouet, Amalie’s husband, has her dressed in the latest styles and proudly displays her for all to see. His mother Sophia soon gives over any of the duties of running the plantation household to Amalie, whom the slaves start calling “petite maitresse”. Her skills, industrious nature, and sincere concern for free and slave alike endears her to the people of Belle Grove, the Declouet plantation on Bayou Teche. Only the overseer Patrick Dye is disrespectful and makes suggestive, crude remarks to her every chance he gets. Julian and Sophia tell Amalie to ignore him, but refuse to consider firing him--hm!

Julian has no interest in the day by day running of the plantation, he just enjoys the money it affords him so he can pursue his pleasures. His cousin Robert, whom Sophia reared with love from age five, can be depended on to see that Belle Grove prospers just as he sees to the well-being of his own plantation, The Willows.

The secondary characters like Chloe (Sophia’s goddaughter) and George the Englishman gardener; Madame Callot, the gossiper; Violet, somewhat of a mystery woman; Lally, Tige, and little Isa (all slaves), add sub-plots and emotional involvements that intrigue as they propel the story of the Declouets along its troubled way with its undercurrents of secrets and fears that surface from time to time keeping the reader tantalized with foreshadowing, clues, back stories, and glimpses of secret, deep-seated needs of the characters—so much to enjoy.

Jennifer Blake creates a story full of mystery, misery, and magic of love. Her narrative of the unique styles of homes gives the reader a vicarious experience of feeling the cross breeze circulation through the house on a hot, humid summer night. Her description of the flood on Bayou Teche and the aftermath engages the reader’s senses and emotions as she brings to life the mud and misery of aching weariness as all work to save and revive Belle Grove. Another mind-shattering event comes alive as she describes the hurricane on Isle Derniere when winds, rain, and raging waters of the hurricane roar in like a mad beast killing and destroying without mercy. Ms. Blake takes one’s breath away with the realness of it all. She ramps up the anxiety with the antagonist surprises presence that threatens to destroy all that the hurricane had not. However, the crown jewel of the story is the love story that threads through it all like the golden thread in a tapestry that enriches its warmth and sparkle as it reveals a surprise, or maybe not-so-surprising, soul mate connect.

Midnight Waltz suggests darkness and sensuality and it delivers in spades—super good reading!