The Promise of Rain

A Rose in Winter

The Truelove Bride

A Kiss at Midnight by Shana Abé
(Bantam, $5.99, PG) ISBN 0-553-58057-4
After closing the cover of A Kiss at Midnight, I felt as if I had just read a luscious fairy tale, rather than the standard medieval romance.

The bountiful land of Alderich has been the property of Serath Rune's family for generations. But a centuries old law proclaimed that at the start of the new millennium in the year 1000, the ownership of Alderich would be passed to the clan of Leonhart.

Rafael of Leonhart has prepared his entire life to become the new lord of Alderich. But he is not so complacent to think that the present lord, Jozua Rune, will willingly surrender the property. Therefore, Rafael kidnaps Jozua's granddaughter Serath, using her as further incentive to claim his long-awaited inheritance.

Serath tries to warn Rafael that his plan will not prove successful. She is the last person to hold any power over the grandfather that had her banished to a convent nine years earlier. Serath reminds Jozua too much of her mother Morwena.

Morwena was burned as a witch when Serath was just eight years old. Jozua, as well as the tenants of Alderich, believe Serath has inherited more than just her mother's looks. They believe she has also inherited her powers as a witch. Serath warns Rafael that bringing her back to Alderich would only hinder his quest.

Serath's prophecy proves accurate. The people of Alderich flee at Serath's appearance and her grandfather curses her as a witch. Now Rafael is burdened with a woman who is more a hindrance than a help. But if that is so, then why is he so reluctant to send her away?

Once sworn enemies, Rafael and Serath must now work together to save Alderich from the man who would rather see it destroyed than relinquish it to its rightful owner.

There is a darkness about A Kiss at Midnight that is appropriate to the fairy tale quality of the story. Serath is a tortured heroine, but one who has gained strength from her experiences, making her the perfect complement to the courageous and noble Rafael.

I was struck by the lyrical quality of Shana Abé's writing, especially her descriptive passages. A Kiss at Midnight engaged all of my senses and brought the mythical land of Alderich to life.

If you prefer historical romances that are factually accurate and a true slice of medieval life, then this might not be the book for you. But if you are willing to immerse yourself in a mystical land, peopled with rich, heroic characters, then A Kiss at Midnight is a story to savor.

--Karen Lynch

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