A Midnight Dance
By Lila DiPasqua
Published August 2011, Penguin Group
Paperback, 355 pages
Inspired by the tale of Cinderella, Lila DiPasqua weaves a steamy historical romance that offers a glass slipper, a dangerous deception, and an impoverished beauty determined to find her handsome prince...and make him pay. Born into wealth, Sabine Laurent and her twin sister lived a life of luxury, their father's prestigious theater frequented by royalty and aristocracy alike. And Sabine dreamed of her own prince charming--the devastatingly handsome Jules de Moutier. That was before the loss of her sister and her family's fall from grace--a disaster Sabine blames on the Moutier family. Now, with her father's death, she's inherited his sizable debt and the responsibility of caring for his spoiled long-time mistress and her two wastrel daughters. But with the help of Sabine's eccentric friends--the balance of her father's acting troupe--she plans to get very close to her old infatuation, seduce the rake--and make away with a fortune. Resisting Jules's skillful mouth and tantalizing touch is not as easy as Sabine supposed. And soon she must decide whether her desire for vengeance is greater than her desire for her one and only prince...I love a good fairy tale re-telling, especially when it is retold specifically for adults, as this book is. Right from the beginning, the romance and chemistry between Sabine and Jules is steamy and passionate, and I had a hard time putting the book down at all. The Cinderella references are vague and somewhat after-the-fact. The glass slipper scene takes place at the beginning of the book when Sabine is young, and the stepmother and two stepdaughters look to Sabine as the head of the household, instead of placing her in the role of a servant. This book seems to take the original tale and turn it upside down, with Sabine forging her own destiny - with or without Prince Charming - and refusing to bend to misfortune.
Sabine's character is both headstrong and naive. A large part of her successes in the plot seem to be born out of pure luck, as she lacks any real skill at either deception or thievery. Jules strong attraction to her gives her the freedom to get as far as she does in her plans, even as she falls for him in return.
While the romance and eroticism takes center stage in the novel, there is a secondary element to the book that comes in subtly as Jules takes a more permanent role in Sabine's life. Jules is intent on a restoration of his honor and wealth, and the discover the truth about his father's accusations. Neither Jules nor Sabine suspect the guilty party until Sabine's life is in danger. Suspense and unpredictability pull me right to the end pages, and just enough is left hanging to lead into a sequel. I look forward to discovering what happens next!
The Cover: The cover is appropriately sexy, but it always bugs me when the heads of the cover models are cut off, or in this case, cut in half. The woman's dress is also gorgeous, though I would have liked to see it from the front.
First Line: "'I have a plan!' Isabelle Laurent announced the moment she yanked Sabine inside the costume room at their father's grand theater and slammed the door shut."
A much more exciting way to introduce the reader to the novel - I immediately want to know more about this Isabelle, as well as what plan she has concocted.
Read For: Off the Shelf Challenge, Read a Myth Challenge
*I received this book free of charge from the publisher for review purposes.*