The Prince of Midnight

The Prince of Midnight

4.1 16
by Laura Kinsale
     
 

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Proud Leigh Strachan hires highwayman and ex-hero S.T. Maitland to avenge the murder of her family, never expecting to fall in love with him.  See more details below

Overview

Proud Leigh Strachan hires highwayman and ex-hero S.T. Maitland to avenge the murder of her family, never expecting to fall in love with him.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Romance readers should be enchanted with Kinsale's ( Seize the Fire ) unlikely 18th-century duo: a staunchly unsentimental heroine and the has-been highwayman who joins her quest for vengeance. Leigh Strachan's parents and sisters are dead, and she's determined to murder the man responsible: The Right Reverend James Chilton. To this end, she tracks down S. T. Maitland, once the infamous robber called the Prince of Midnight but now a recluse--he can teach her how to handle a gun and a sword. But her ``prince'' is a disappointment: he's deaf in one ear, inclined to dizzy spells, a hopeless romantic starved for female company--and he fancies a wolf as a housepet. Just as Leigh concludes that S.T. is useless, he decides to become her champion. As they travel to Leigh's home to challenge Chilton, each emerges from a kind of cocoon: S.T. regains his skills, Leigh her capacity to feel affection. Unfortunately the unscrupulous reverend and his deluded followers are far less interesting than the bantering Leigh and S.T., and the prolonged confrontation seems more drab than dramatic. Major ad/promo. (Nov.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780727842145
Publisher:
Severn House Publishers, Limited
Publication date:
07/01/1991
Edition description:
REPRINT
Pages:
416
Product dimensions:
5.51(w) x 8.66(h) x (d)

Read an Excerpt

La Paire, foothills of the French Alps-1772

The lad had the deep, burning eyes of a zealot. S.T. Maitland shifted uncomfortably on his wooden bench and glanced again over his wine across the murky depths of the tavern. It was damnably disconcerting to find that measuring stare still fixed on him, as if he were up for admission to heaven and not particularly likely to get in.

S.T. lifted his tankard in a lazy salute. He wasn't proud. He reckoned he was a long enough shot for paradise that a nod was worth the trouble. If this comely youth with the absurdly black lashes and vivid blue eyes should turn out to be St. Peter, Jr., best to be decently civil.

Rather to S.T.'s dismay, the youngster's gaze intensified. The straight, dark brows drew into a frown and the boy stood, slim and silent, a figure of blue velvet and shabby gentility amid the usual lot of peasants chattering in Piedmontese and Provençal. S.T. rubbed his ear and brushed his tie wig nervously. A vision of eating his déjeuner in the clutches of an earnestly holy adolescent made him swig the last half of his wine and stand up in haste.

He reached down for the packet of sable paintbrushes he'd come into the village to procure. The string loosened. He swore under his breath, trying to capture the precious sticks before they scattered into the rushes that covered the dirt floor.

"Seigneur."

The soft voice seemed to be behind him. S.T. came upright, turning quickly to the left in the hope of escaping, but his bad ear tricked him amid the babble of laughter and conversation. His balance fluctuated for an instant; he grabbed instinctively for the table and found himself face-to-face with the youth.

"Monseigneur du Minuit?"

A bolt of alarm shot through him. The words were French, but it was very stilted French, and a name he hadn't been called in three years.

He'd been half expecting to hear it-for so long that it didn't even sound remarkable. 'Twas the voice itself that seemed improbable, gruff and toneless, coming from this infant with the fresh, high-colored face. When S.T. had envisioned the hunters who might track him for the price on his head, he'd hardly imagined a greenling who hadn't even started a beard.

He relaxed against the table and gazed glumly down at the youth. Was this youngster all he was worth? He could kill the poor cub with one hand, for God's sake.

"You are le Seigneur du Minuit," the boy stated, nodding stiffly, managing the pronunciation of "seyn-yuhr" and "minwhee" with careful dignity. In English, he added, "I am correct?"

S.T. thought of answering in a torrent of annoyed French which would undoubtedly go right over the fellow's head. His schoolroom accent sounded none too steady. But those eyes of burning deep blue had a force of their own, enough to keep S.T. wary. Fresh faced or not, the child had managed to locate him-a disturbing fact on all counts.

The boy was tall for an adolescent, but S.T. still topped him by a head and certainly outweighed him by a good six stone. With that slender elegance and full, solemn mouth, the young whelp looked more like to grow into a dandy than a thieftaker. He dressed the beau, to be sure, even if the lace at his cuffs and linen jabot was frayed and grimy.

"Qu'est-ce que c'est?" S.T. demanded brusquely.

The dark, winged brows drew into a deeper line. "S'il vous plaît," the boy said with a little bobbing bow, "will you speak English, monsieur?"

S.T. gave him a suspicious look. The lad was really outrageously beautiful, his black hair drawn back off high cheekbones into a short queue; a classical, perfect nose...and those eyes, alors, like the light through deep water: nightshade and violet and bluebells. S.T. had seen that effect once, in a rocky cave at the edge of the Mediterranean, with the sun shafts piercing aquamarine shadows and playing off jet-black stone-and this against skin soft and fine as a girl's. The superbly modeled face held high color, a pink that looked almost feverish. Against his better judgment, S.T. found himself growing curious about the brat.

"Little speak Eng-lish." He made up the worst accent he could humanly execute, speaking loudly above the tavern noise. "Little! Good day! Yes?"

The youth hesitated, staring intensely from beneath those slanted brows. S.T. found himself vaguely embarrassed by the farce. What a silly language, French-it made a man sound like some backstage cardsharp to imitate the proper Gallic inflections.

"You are not the Seigneur," the boy said in his husky, toneless voice.

"Seigneur!" Did the young dullard suppose that S.T. was going to announce it to any English stranger who happened along? "Mon petit bouffon! I look a seigneur, no? A lord! But yes!" He gestured down at his jackboots and paint-stained breeches. "Bien sûr! A prince, of course!"

"Je m'excuse." The youth gave a second awkward bow. "I seek another." He hesitated, looked hard at S.T., and then began to turn away.

S.T. clamped his hand on the slender shoulder. He couldn't afford to let the cub go quite so easily as that. "Seek an-oth-er? An-o-ther? Pardon; but this I comprehend not."

The boy's frown deepened. "A man." He moved his hand in a slight gesture of frustration. "Un homme."

"Le Seigneur du Minuit?" S.T. put just a trace of patient patronage in his tone.
"The Lord-of the Midnight, eh? Zut! Is a name absurd. I know not he. You seek? Pardon, pardon, monsieur, for why you seek?"

"I must find him." The youth watched S.T.'s face with the intensity of a cat at a mouse hole. "It doesn't matter why." He paused and then said slowly, "Perhaps he goes by a different name here."

"Of course. I give to you help, hm? Ah-the hair." S.T. tugged at the queue on his tie wig. "Color? The color, you know it?"

"Yes. Brown hair, monsieur. I'm told he doesn't like a wig or powder. Brown hair, dark, but with gold in it. Streaked with gold, all over. Similar to a lion, monsieur." S.T. rolled his eyes, playing Frenchman. "Alors. Le beau!"

The boy nodded seriously. "Yes, they say he is handsome. Quite good-looking. Tall. With eyes of green. Comprenez 'green,' monsieur? Emerald? With gold in them. And gold on his eyelashes and brows." The boy stared at S.T. significantly. "Very unusual, I'm told. As if someone had sprinkled gold dust over him. And his eyebrows are quite distinctive, too, so they say-" He touched his own. "With a curl at the arch of them like the horns on a devil."

S.T. hesitated. The blue eyes held constant, no change in expression, just a shade too level, the tone of voice a trace too mild-he looked down at the youth and saw someone a thousand years old gazing out of that unfledged face. It chilled him. There was a devil inside this one, and it knew full well who he was but chose to play the game S.T. had started.

He carried on with the performance anyway. The only other recourse was to lure the poor pup out back and hold a stiletto to his throat. S.T. needed to know how he'd been found... and why.

Tapping his forehead, he said wisely, "Ah. Eye-brow. Je comprends. See this eye-brow you, and think...I is he. This seigneur. Yes?"

"Yes." The boy smiled faintly. "But I was wrong. I'm sorry." The smile erased all trace of subterfuge. It was sweet and wistful and feminine, and S.T. had to sit down to keep from sinking under the sudden shock of revelation.

For the love of-
She was a girl.

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Meet the Author


Laura Kinsale is the award-winning and New York Times–bestselling author of The Shadow and the StarSeize the FireThe Prince of MidnightFlowers From the StormFor My Lady’s Heart, and The Dream Hunter. She and her husband divide their time between Santa Fe and Dallas. Shadowheart won the Romance Writers of America Rita Award for best long historical romance of 2004. Kinsale also won best romance novel of 1990 for Prince of Midnight. Kinsale was 1987–1988 Career Achievement Award Winner from Romantic Times Magazine. She was also Regency Historical Romance 2004 Career Achievement Award Winner from Romantic Times Magazine and the Innovative Historical Romance 1994 RRA Awards Nominee for Best Historical Romance Author.

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Prince of Midnight 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
srbSH More than 1 year ago
Very well written, there's a strong story line of revenge and redemption and three vividly drawn characters: the golden Seigneur du Minuit (aka S.T. Maitland) who can't seem to escape his renown as a highwayman and consummate swordsman even when he is in hiding and devoting himself to his painting. (He's concealing from the world that he is now deaf in one ear and suffering from vertigo); Nemo, his devoted wolf; and Lady Leigh Strahan, revenge seeker and healer who plods from England to Italy dressed as a lad to find him. She needs his help to expose a villainous preacher who has done away with her family under the guise of piety and who has brainwashed the whole town into becoming his slavish followers. Their quest to do so is a humdinger of an engrossing and captivating adventure.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've loved all of LK's previous works. I simply live for heroes like of Jervaulx in Flowers from the Storm, Sheridan in Seize the Fire and Sam in Shadow and the Star, but somehow, though likeable enough, I just wasn't able to get into S.T. I guess that's because I'm not into the sweet, cuddly beta type of guys. I like my men, and thus my heroes, mean, lean and adorable. As for Leigh, I didn't really like her all that much, and I thought LK's previous heroines like Maddy and Olympia from the first two books named above made more of an impact on me with their quiet but steely strength than Leigh did. I totally agree with one reviewer who said she could be very frustrating with all her cynicism. Get over it and fall in love with the guy already! He's a great catch! was all I kept thinking throughout the book. I just don't have the patience for those novels where the romance starts at the end of the book instead of in the middle, at least. p What I did like about the book, though, was its realism. In life you set out on journeys expecting to meet people and places of a certain sort but it is never like what you expected. LK writes wonderfully realistic love stories that are among the truest to real life I've ever come across. They end happily ever after but with a certain poignancy to them that is often pertinent to life. She gives you enough room to escape the real world but at the same time cling to the true essence of human nature. And I just love that. p All in all, this book didn't touch me emotionally like LK's other books, but I gave it three stars mainly because of what I said in the previous paragraph, and because LK is a very talented and deserving author. In all her books that I've ever read, this is the first one I didn't like and I've read them ALL. So, buy everything else, is basically what I'm saying but burrow this one from the library. Cheers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Laura Kinsale does it again in this adventure of a book. Leigh is looking to avenge her family, and finds the most likely, and unlikely hero...S.T. Maitland. Together they set out to defeat and particularly evil nemesis. Her sense of location, language (French), and passion are dead on. If you like For Your Lady's Heart, you will also like this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ST Maitland and Lady Leigh are quite a pair; he's the dreamy, intuitive painter, she's the athletic heroine burning for revenge who seeks him out. As usual, Kinsale excels at the wounded or handicapped hero who finds his strength in the love of a spirited woman. Nobody does this kind of story better. This novel has a weaker structure than her others; at times it felt like the confrontation with the villain went on forever. Kinsale is at her best in the heroine's journey through pre-Revolutionary France, alone with her erratic and reluctant hero. My problem with this edition was the sloppy copyediting, which dropped punctuation at random.
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Sherkeekie More than 1 year ago
Laura Kinsale knows how to reel you in. The hero, S. T. Maitland, is totally lovable, heroic, sexy, intelligent, strong, flawed and vulnerable. This book is gut wrenching, sweet, heartbreaking and inspiring. The heroine, Leigh, was a tough nut to crack. She was so hellbent on revenge she totally closed herself off from an amazing love. I'm not sure why S.T. loved her but I was totally envious of his singleminded devotion. Of course everything comes aright in the end. Laura Kinsale is AMAZINGLY talented!!
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