Midnight Angel

Midnight Angel

3.8 66
by Lisa Kleypas

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Lord Lucas Stokehurst is captivated by the gentle grace and regal beauty of “Miss Karen Billings,” who appeared seemingly out of nowhere and now stands demurely before him. Enchanted, the gallant, haunted widower impetuously offers her a position as governess to his young daughter, taking the lady of mystery into his home.

But “Miss Billings”

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Lord Lucas Stokehurst is captivated by the gentle grace and regal beauty of “Miss Karen Billings,” who appeared seemingly out of nowhere and now stands demurely before him. Enchanted, the gallant, haunted widower impetuously offers her a position as governess to his young daughter, taking the lady of mystery into his home.

But “Miss Billings” has another name, Anastasia, and a dark past that pursues her still. Condemned for a crime she cannot remember, she barely escaped the gallows. And now she seeks shelter in the arms of a man devastated by tragedy, a man who must now defy society and the forces of vengeance to keep his lady safe and their bold new love alive.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Accused of murder and sentenced to hang in her native Russia, beautiful Anastasia escapes to Victorian England, takes the name Karen Billings, and gets work as governess to the daughter of an arrogant yet grieving widower, Lord Lucas Stokehurst. Inevitably, sparks fly- first in a clash of wills, then in passionate love. Susan Duerden narrates in an elegant, melodic British accent, while creating distinctive voices for Kleypas's characters. She provides Anastasia with a Russian accent and Stokehurst with that of an upper-crust Englishman. Additionally, she produces a variety of specific, regional English dialects for the book's various servants and aristocrats. Duerden also narrates the descriptive sex scenes in a way that evokes the passion of the prose and will leave romance fans weak in the knees. For lovers of the genre, Midnight Angel won't disappoint. An Avon paperback.
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Heather Graham
Charming...I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Beautiful, protected Anastasia Kaptereva was about to make a brilliant marriage to the wealthy Prince Mikhail Angelovsky. The problem is she's killed him. At least she was found unconscious near his body with the bloody knife in her hand. In 1870, at the beginning of this promising, evocative novel, she escapes from a St. Petersburg prison and almost certain execution to England, where a relative finds her a position as governess to Emma Stokehurst, the 12-year-old daughter of Lord Lucas Stokehurst. While Anastasia is haunted by the murder she can't quite remember, the Stokehursts are haunted by the fire that deprived Emma of her mother and Lucas of his wife and his hand. In Anastasia, Lucas finds new love, while Anastasia finds not only love but some promise of protection-at least until her past catches up with her. Kleypas (Dreaming of You) has done her research, creating a real sense of place and period, her dialogue is rich, her humor real and her ``evil'' characters never stoop to being stock simplistic boogeymen (or women). If there is a problem, it is with her pacing. After a ripping beginning, Midnight Angel bogs down as the lovers retreat to get to know each another, then speeds up as danger approaches, only to stumble at a rushed and improbable confession and finally malinger anticlimactically in an attempt, one suspects, to set the scene for a sequel. (Jan.)

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Product Details

Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.00(h) x 1.40(d)

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Chapter One

London, England

Lady Alicia Ashbourne wrung her hands nervously. "Luke, I have wonderful news. We have found a governess for Emma. She's a splendid young woman; intelligent, beautifully mannered ... perfect in every way You must meet her at once and see for yourself."

Lord Lucas Stokehurst, the marquess of Stokehurst, looked up with an ironic smile. "So that's why you invited me here this afternoon. And I thought it was for my charming company."

For half an hour he had been plied with tea and small talk in the drawing room of the Ashbournes' Queen's Square estate. He had been close friends with Charles Ashbourne since their days at Eton. Charles was a sociable man who had the rare gift of always seeing the best in people -- a gift that Luke did not share. Discovering that Luke would be in London for the day, Charles had invited him to take tea when his business was concluded. As soon as Luke entered the drawing room, he had known from the Ashbournes' expressions that they were going to ask a favor.

"She's perfect," Alicia repeated. "Isn't she, Charles?"

Charles agreed with enthusiasm. "I would say so, m'dear."

"Since you had such poor luck with the previous governess," Alicia continued, "I've kept an eye out for a suitable replacement. You know how fond I've always been of your daughter, and since she has no mother of her own ..." She hesitated. "Oh, dear. I didn't mean to remind you of Mary."

Luke's dark face was expressionless. Several years had passed since the death of his wife, but it still hurt to hear her name. It would hurt until the day he died. "Go on," he said evenly. "Tell me about thisparagon."

"Her name is Karen Billings. Although she has lived most of her life abroad, she recently decided to make her home in England. She's staying with us until we can find her suitable employment. In my opinion, she's mature enough to provide the discipline Emma needs, but also young enough to befriend the child. I'm certain that once you meet her, you'll see how right she is for the position."

"Fine." Luke finished his tea and shifted on the brocade settee, stretching his long legs. "Send her references to me. I'll look through them when I have time."

"I would, but ... there's a little problem."

"Little problem," Luke repeated, lifting one dark brow.

"She has no references."


A touch of color rose from the lace collar at Alicia's throat. "She prefers not to answer questions about her past. I'm afraid I can't tell you the reason. It's a very good reason, though. You must trust me on that point."

After a short silence, Luke began to laugh. He

was a handsome man in his mid-thirties, with black hair and vivid blue eyes. His face was more notable for its masculinity than its beauty with a stern mouth and a nose that was well-shaped but a little too long. The smile he wore most often was that of a man who mocked his own importance. He had an air of cynical charm that others strove to copy. When he laughed, as he was doing now, the laughter never quite reached his eyes.

"Enough said, Alicia. I'm sure she's a fine governess. A treasure. We'll let some other family have the good fortune of employing her."

"Before you refuse, you must at least talk to her-"

"No," he said flatly "Emma is all I have. I want the best for my daughter."

"Miss Billings is the best."

"She's your latest charity project," Luke countered sardonically.

"Charles," Alicia pleaded, and her husband joined in the debate.

"Stokehurst," he said mildly, "what harm would it do to meet the girl?"

"It would be a waste of time." There was no mistaking the finality in Luke's tone.

The Ashbournes exchanged a glance of dismay Gathering her courage, Alicia approached him in a few halting footsteps. "Luke, for the sake of your daughter, won't you meet this woman? Emma is twelve years old ... on the verge of some rather wonderful and terrifying changes. She needs someone to help her understand herself and the world around her. You know I would never suggest someone who was unsuited for the position. And Miss Billings is such a special person. Let me run upstairs and fetch her. I promise it won't take long. Please."

Luke scowled, pulling his arm away from her hand. In light of her insistence, he couldn't very well refuse. "Bring her down before I change my mind.,

"You darling man." Alicia hurried out of the room, the elaborate draperies of her skirts swishing behind her.

Charles went to pour him a brandy. "Thank you. It's kind of you to indulge my wife in this matter. I don't think you'll regret meeting Miss Billings."

"I'll meet her, but I won't hire her."

"You might change your mind."

"Not a chance in hell." Luke stood and made his way past a multitude of tables cluttered with handmade ornaments and posy vases. He joined his friend at the carved mahogany sideboard and accepted the brandy snifter. Gently he swirled the amber liquid and gave Charles a wry sideways smile. "What's going on, Charles?"

"I don't really know," came the uncomfortable reply. "Miss Billings is a complete stranger to me. She appeared on our doorstep a week ago. No belongings, no baggage, not a shilling as far as I can tell. Alicia welcomed her with open arms, and won't tell me a deuced thing about the girl...

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Heather Graham
Charming...I enjoyed it thoroughly.

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