Stroke of Midnight (Cinderella Sisterhood Series #2)
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Stroke of Midnight (Cinderella Sisterhood Series #2)

4.4 15
by Olivia Drake

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Stroke of Midnight
Olivia Drake

The infamous Laura Falkner has returned to Regency London society in disguise. Determined to clear her father's name, she becomes a companion to elderly Lady Josephine—only to learn the woman's nephew is none other than Alexander Ross, the devilish Earl of Copley, the man Laura once loved with all her heart.


Stroke of Midnight
Olivia Drake

The infamous Laura Falkner has returned to Regency London society in disguise. Determined to clear her father's name, she becomes a companion to elderly Lady Josephine—only to learn the woman's nephew is none other than Alexander Ross, the devilish Earl of Copley, the man Laura once loved with all her heart. The same man who'd accused her father of theft and forced them to flee England.

Alex has never forgotten Laura—or forgiven himself for letting her go. Today, Laura is as lovely—and stubborn—as ever, and her attempts at crime-solving are putting her in danger. The only way Alex can keep her safe is to marry her. But how can this notorious rake convince Laura that his heart is true…before the clock strikes twelve?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Filled with romance, breathtaking passion, and a dash of mystery that will leave you wanting more.” —Night Owl Reviews on If the Slipper Fits

“A dash of danger and a dash of fairytale in the form of a very special pair of shoes add to the romance plot, filling out If The Slipper Fitsnicely.” —Romance Junkies on If the Slipper Fits

“Cinderella knew it was all about the shoes, and so does master storyteller Drake as she kicks off The Cinderella Sisterhood with a tale filled with gothic overtones, sensuality, sprightly dialogue, emotion, an engaging cast and a beautiful pair of perfectly fitting slippers.” —RT Book Reviews (4 stars) on If the Slipper Fits

“I was enchanted with this story as Olivia Drake took the residents of Castle Kevern and this reader on an emotional, delightful journey. A magical fairytale deserving to be read and read again!” —Once Upon a Romance on If the Slipper Fits

Library Journal
Drawn back to London by her father's murder ten years after he was falsely accused of theft and they fled to Portugal, Laura Falkner is bent on vindicating her parent and recovering her lost life. But she has no funds and is still a social pariah. Then the enigmatic Lady Josephine Milford steps in, and Laura is given a position as the elderly woman's companion. Laura, of course, is overjoyed—until she learns that Lady Josephine's nephew is the Earl of Copley, the man who brought those accusations against Laura's father and broke her heart years ago. Anger and distrust war with the passion that still sparks between the pair as they work together to learn the truth—and end up in danger from a source they never anticipated. VERDICT Complete with fairy godmother and jeweled slippers, this intriguing, mystery-laced reworking of the Cinderella story is a sweetly sensual and often funny delight that will have fans wondering where those sparkling shoes will end up next. Drake (If the Slipper Fits), who also writes award-winning best sellers under her own name, Barbara Dawson Smith, lives in Texas.

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Cinderella Sisterhood Series , #2
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.70(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.00(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1



She had no reason to fear the constable.

Holding fast to that thought, Laura followed the burly officer through the graveyard. The cloudy afternoon cast a gloomy pall over the rows of headstones and wooden crosses. A few of the mounds had been carefully tended, though many others showed signs of neglect. Rough masculine laughter came from one of the gin houses in the surrounding slums. It was the only sound besides the squelching of the constable’s boots on the sodden ground and the patter of her own footsteps.

Though any woman in her circumstances might feel a bit nervous, Laura had more reason than most to be wary. She reminded herself that the constable could have no notion of her true identity. A decade had passed since she and her father had fled London. She had been someone else then, leading another life under a different surname. A lady garbed in silk and jewels rather than the drab commoner she was now.

No one in this vast city knew her anymore. Miss Laura Falkner, toast of society, was as dead as the poor souls in this paupers’ cemetery.

The constable glanced over his shoulder, the dark sockets of his eyes boring into her. “Almost there, Miss Brown.”

Laura kept her face expressionless. Had a stray curl escaped her bonnet? She hoped not, for the police surely had a description of her that included mention of her distinctive tawny-gold hair. “You’ve done more than your duty, sir. If you’ll point me in the right direction, you can be on your way.”

“’Tis no trouble to take ye there. No trouble at all.”

His insistence increased her disquiet. He continued onward, his large head moving back and forth to examine the gravestones. What was his name again? Officer Pangborn. She had not wanted an escort, but he’d insisted that no decent female should venture alone into these crime-ridden stews.

Laura had acquiesced only because a refusal might arouse suspicion. She had taken a risk in going to the police in the first place. But she’d needed to learn more about her father’s recent death and also to discover the site of his final resting place.


The wind tossed a spattering of icy raindrops at her face. Shivering, she drew the cloak more securely around herself. After so many years in the sunshine of Portugal, she had forgotten the damp chill of an English springtime. Or perhaps it was just that she’d suppressed the memory of her old life before she and Papa had escaped into exile.

Now he lay dead. Murdered by an unknown assailant in an alley near Covent Garden. The shock of it still numbed her. News of the attack had arrived while she’d been tending the garden outside their little cottage in the mountains of Portugal. How contented she’d been that day, trimming the camellias, weeding the arum lilies, while having no inkling of the disaster that was about to shatter her tranquility. Then a boy from the village had delivered a letter from the London police stating that one Martin Brown lay severely injured, that her address had been found in his pocket. She’d departed in a rush, traveling for many days over land and sea, only to learn that her father had succumbed to his wounds shortly after the letter had been posted.

Laura swallowed past the painful lump in her throat. At their last parting, Papa had told her he would be gone for a fortnight on business—she had presumed to Lisbon to buy and sell antiquities, their only source of income. Instead, he must have boarded a ship to England. Why?

Why would he go back to a place where he would be tried and hanged if captured?

“There ’tis, Miss.”

Constable Pangborn stopped near the low stone wall that marked the perimeter of the cemetery. The middle-aged officer had muttonchop whiskers and the bulky build of a prizefighter. He had been out on patrol when he’d found Papa lying sorely injured in the alleyway. Now, as he pointed his wooden truncheon at a nearby grave site, his speculative gaze remained fixed on Laura.

Her skin prickled. She couldn’t shake the sense that he knew more about her than he let on. Had Papa in a delirium on his deathbed revealed his real identity? Did this officer believe she’d been her father’s accomplice in the jewel theft that had rocked society ten years ago?

She warned herself not to make wild assumptions. More likely, Pangborn’s interest in her was of a carnal nature. Over the years, she’d had ample experience in discouraging such lechers.

Laura leveled a cool stare at him. “Your assistance has been very helpful,” she said in polite dismissal. “I shall bid you good day now.”

His thick Wellington boots remained planted in place. “I have me orders, miss. I’m to guard ye from harm.”

“The sergeant bade you only to escort me to the cemetery. You’ve already done more than enough.”

“There be drunkards and thieves roaming these stews, ready to pounce on a wee creature such as yourself. I’ll see ye home—and that’s that.”

Home was a cheap lodging house in an area nearly as wretched as this one. Yet Laura would sooner risk the walk alone than let this man learn her temporary place of residence. If the constable really did harbor a suspicion about her true identity, he might search her portmanteau and find the news article about the decade-old robbery that she’d clipped from an English paper. Then he would have proof that she was the notorious Miss Laura Falkner.

She dipped her chin in a pretense of humble acceptance. “That’s very good of you, sir. If I may, I should like a few minutes alone now. Kindly await me at the entrance gate.”

Constable Pangborn scowled as if gauging her sincerity. Then he gave a curt nod and marched away, glancing back several times over his shoulder. The breeze carried the far-off sounds of conviviality along with a fishy stench from the nearby Thames.

She watched until he reached the gate before lowering her gaze to the grave site. Weeds already had sprouted on the freshly turned mound. A small square of stone lay flat on the ground, and a name was chiseled into the surface: MARTIN BROWN.

Heedless of the damp earth, Laura sank to her knees in a billow of gray skirts. Tears blurred her eyes as she reached out to trace the crude letters with a gloved fingertip. “Papa,” she whispered brokenly. “Papa.”

The harsh reality of his death struck her anew. She hunched over the grave, weeping, no longer able to stem the tide of sorrow. He had been the very best of fathers, full of good cheer and wise words, concerned more for her happiness than his own. He had treated her as an equal and schooled her as the son he’d always wanted. He didn’t deserve to have suffered such a brutal end—or to lie forgotten in a pauper’s tomb. His memory should be honored with a fine marble headstone carved with haloed angels and a loving tribute.

And it should bear his true name: MARTIN FALKNER.

With trembling fingers, she plucked out the weeds and tossed them aside. Someone here in London had destroyed his good reputation. Someone had deliberately planted evidence to make him appear guilty of stealing the Blue Moon diamond. Had her father returned to England to track down the villain? Why had he done so without telling her?

It must have been the quarrel they’d had over that news clipping.

When Papa had brought home the broadsheet and she’d noticed the small article, it had resurrected her buried anger over their forced flight from England ten years earlier. She’d spoken bitterly about the injustice of their exile. They had exchanged sharp words over her wish to restore their standing in society. But when his expression had turned melancholy, she’d regretted her mistake in bringing up the topic and had hastily reassured him of her contentment. It had been only a day later that he’d set out on his fateful journey …

Across the cemetery, a bulky form started down the path, arms swinging purposefully. Constable Pangborn!

The prospect of leaving the grave site wrenched her heart. Yet Laura dared delay no longer. Leaning down, she whispered, “My dearest Papa … good-bye.”

She sprang to her feet and made haste to the stone wall. Since it stood no higher than her bosom, the barrier should be easily climbable. Hitching up her skirts, she found a few toeholds and hoisted herself to the top. Hard work and mountain hiking had strengthened her limbs, one more reason to be thankful she was no longer the fragile debutante.

“You there!” Pangborn shouted. “Stop!”

Dear heaven, she’d been right to mistrust the officer.

A bramble hooked her hem, causing a brief delay. Laura yanked herself free and scrambled over the wall. As she landed, her shoes slid on a mound of damp leaves. Her arms wheeled as she caught her balance, only just managing to stay upright.

She risked a backward glance. The constable had left the path and sprinted on a straight course over the graves. The scowl that darkened his whiskered face sent a chill into Laura’s heart. There could be no doubt he meant to arrest her.

As he neared the wall, she plunged into the maze of narrow streets.


Copyright © 2013 by Olivia Drake

Meet the Author

OLIVIA DRAKE is a New York Times bestselling author who lives in Texas. Her novels have won critical acclaim and numerous industry awards, including the prestigious RITA.

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Stroke of Midnight 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend the Cinderella Sisterhood Series. Olivia has shared with us her great story telling/writing ability with all her book and this series is no different. If you like a good love story with a few bumps in the road... You will truly love this one :)
AGoodell More than 1 year ago
Love regency romance and this was a perfect one. The characters had perfect chemistry from start to finish. I find it hard for auths to come up w/new idea's and story lines but  Ms. Drake certainly did w/this one. And a huge surprise ending! Can't wait for the next one.
MyBookAddictionandMore More than 1 year ago
When Laura Falkner receives a letter stating that her father has been seriously injured in London, she boards the first ship, prepared to nurse her father back to health. Instead, she is taken to his grave. Now back in London, the city she had to flee ten years ago, she’d determined to solve the mystery of who stole the Blue Moon diamond and clear her family’s name. The last person she wants to run into is Alex Ross, Earl of Copley; the man who stole her heart and the brutally smashed it when he accused her father of the theft. Alex can’t believe his eyes when he sees that the new companion to his elderly aunt is none other than Laura Falkner, the girl he’s been unable to forget. When he discovers her plan to investigate the theft of the Blue Moon diamond, he makes it his goal to protect her from anyone who might try to harm her. As situations thrust them together, they must learn to trust in one another or give up the love that has been waiting for ten long years. Enjoy another wonderfully written novel by Olivia Drake with Stroke of Midnight. With splendidly written characters, an intriguing plot, and witty humor, you will be enthralled with the story. Find yourself swept away in the passion and fire found between Laura and Alex. I loved how independent Laura was, going being Alex’s back at every turn to achieve her ultimate goal, and how protective Alex was, always there at just the right time to save her from ruin. With Lady Milford’s connecting characters in the series, and of course the beautiful garnet shoes, it adds just a bit of magic and mystery to the story. A must read for fans of historical romance! Looking forward to reading the next book in the Cinderella Sisterhood series! This book was received from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review. Rating: 4 Heat Rating: Mild Reviewed by: AprilP Review Courtesy of My Book Addiction and More
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can't believe I paid for this book! It was one of worst books ever. It moved way to slow and I thought it copied the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which was 100% better. Don't waste your $.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
o.o Seriously?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Don't be.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*she leans into him, sobbing.*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*she yawns and sharpens vaious blades.*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ace. I have been grounded. I will be back when bl can. Love you... bye... :'(
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Boop. *she cks his nose.*