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Friday, March 16, 2012

Once Upon a Midnight by Ericka Scott

Once Upon a Midnight by Ericka Scott
Publisher: L and L Dreamspell
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length(236 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rated 4 Stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon

While searching for answers about her past, Mary Reynolds encounters magic, zombies, and Edgar Allan Poe.

Patrick Shea may be driving a hack now, but he is also chasing the story of a lifetime in hopes of garnering a journalist position on the staff of The Baltimore Sun. At the home of RenĂ© Molyneaux, he catches sight of his quarry, a Haitian Voodoo Practitioner called King Louis, but also sees someone totally unexpected—his wife, Barbara, who disappeared two years ago. She’s working as Molyneaux’s parlor maid. The problem? He finally works up the courage to confront her for the sake of their two-year-old daughter, Emily, when Barbara disappears yet again. While looking for clues to her whereabouts, Patrick finds himself falling in love with her replacement, Mary Reynolds.

Mary Reynolds walks like a lady, talks like a book, and is as pretty and polished as any lady in 1849 Baltimore Society. And so she should, up until ten years ago she was the beloved daughter of a Baltimore mover and shaker. Then, upon her mother’s death, Mary was discovered to be illegitimate and her life crashed down around her. She lost everything: her mother, her home, and her status. Due to the kindness of her mother’s friends, she went into service; however, she’s never given up on her dream of regaining her place in society. When she least expects it, Fate steps in and reveals a clue to her true identity and her birth name, Lenore. With the help of Patrick and his landlady, Mrs. Pym, Lenore begins to rebuild her life. Among her many shocking encounters, her biggest discovery is the one she makes about herself.

Mary Reynolds is not who she thinks she is. At first, her circumstances seem both regrettable and tolerable: the life of a coming of age gal in early nineteenth century America. Her challenges are intriguing enough… but all too soon, reality sets her spinning onto a whole other course.

Life will not be so easy.

On the other hand, a different kind of freedom might be attainable. Mary dreams of San Francisco and enough money to not be beholden to any man. However, in a strange self conflict, she does have Patrick to contend with.

Patrick Shea doesn’t give a second thought to who Mary is (he thinks he knows, of course.) He's simply attracted to her. They are, in fact, attracted to one another. Their circumstances are such that this will not do, not at all! And yet...

I suddenly so wanted magic to happen. That magic wasn't all that far away, as Voo-Doo King is in this mix of odd characters. Other supporting characters include: one much-attached slave and more than anyone’s share of well-meaning, crotchety, envious servants and one particularly ghastly butler. They are all well-done and believable.

This is a complex story, and the details are well-handled, occasionally amusing, and the plot will without doubt keep you guessing. The backdrop provides details that prove both well-researched and interesting,

The somewhat convoluted opening is more annoying than intriguing. However, a patient reader will discover clarification along the way. This is a small matter in a story that manages to be both continually engaging and entertaining. Occasional stilted language interrupts what might otherwise be described as a wonderful overall mood or aura. Billed as seductive suspense, Once Upon a Midnight lives up to its advertising. Ms. Scott writes a tingly seduction scene, and the suspense doesn’t quit from one page to the next. However, it is the characters that earn this tale a 4 star review.

Mary is such a delightful character. She seems completely real; like a friend caught in the most unfortunate (yet sometimes wonderful) circumstances. She's brave and sure beyond her years. Her circumstances are out of her control, yet she soldiers on no matter where she ends up, with a wry sense of humor, a goal, and a sense of determination.

I highly recommend you read Once Upon A Midnight, because Mary’s story is not to be missed.