Book: Midsummer Moon
Author: Laura Kinsale
Category: Historical Romance
With the recent reissues of three Laura Kinsale books, Midsummer Moon, Seize the Fire and Prince of Midnight, those who have yet to discover Laura Kinsale have been given the opportunity to read a historical romance author considered by many to be the master. I've had the pleasure of reading a few Laura Kinsale books and have since fallen in love with her writing, so the chance to read more of her work that might otherwise be hard to find was one I could not pass up.
When Lord Ransom Falconer arrives at the crumbling estate of Merlin Lambourne, he expects to find the man behind an invention that England is trying to keep out of French hands. His goal is to get Merlin and his coveted invention to safety, clear of the clutches of Napoleon's forces. What he finds is a young, absentminded woman who claims to be the Merlin Lambourne. Ransom is at first disbelieving, then shocked, and finally intrigued. Not only is Merlin not a man like he was led to believe, but she can hardly remember what is told to her from one minute to the next.
Nevertheless, Ransom is bent on keeping her safe. He tells her about the plot to take her and her invention--which Merlin believes to be the flying machine that she is working on. Ransom thinks that the idea of a flying machine is ludicrous and writes that off as not being what Napoleon's spies are after. Then he witnesses Merlin communicating with a servant on a speaking box and knows that this ingenious idea is what the French must want. At the sight of Merlin using her masterful invention, Ransom becomes instantly smitten with the innocent and brilliant young miss. He's taken with her smarts and finds Merlin's quirks to be refreshing. And to say any more would spoil the book, but what comes next is a charming story of kidnappings, espionage, stolen virtues, mystery, and--oh yeah, love.
What I loved most about Midsummer Moon is what I'm sure is a major quibble for most readers, and that is the heroine. Merlin, to me, was one of the best Kinsale heroines I've read to date, mostly because she just doesn't care. Ransom walks around attempting to stretch his long ducal arm, and Merlin remains aloof to his pretentious air. She's led a very sheltered life, so that Ransom is a duke, means nothing to her, as shown below.
Merlin stood up. She squared her shoulders and glared up at him. "If I ever get to be a duke, I won't be as big a bully as you are, I can tell you that!"She fits into what I call Laura Kinsale's "innovative heroine mold" perfectly. While her naivety and tendency to space out may be an understandable annoyance to some readers, it is what drew me to the character. What I also love about Merlin is that she wont let anyone stand in the way of her dream. This leads to the major conflict between she and Ransom. See, Ransom wants to marry Merlin but she has figured out that if she does marry him, he will be able to use his power to prevent her from building and flying her flying machine. And she will not have that.
"Since you are exceedingly unlikely ever to get to be a duke, I don't think we need concern ourselves with the prospect."
"One just never knows, does one?" She held out her skirt and turned from him with a flounce. When she reached the door, she stopped and looked over her shoulder. "And if I should, I shall expect you to address me properly. It will be 'Miss Duke' to you, you may be sure!"
And while I'm speaking on my loves, I must talk of Ransom. His affection for Merlin was profound in many ways. It doesn't bother him in the least that Merlin wears drab dresses, tool stuffed aprons, carries a hedgehog around, and has oil stained fingers. And though Ransom is trying to keep Merlin from building her flying machine, I still understood his reasons. He thinks that it is not only impossible, but if it were--by some crazy chance--able to be built, her flying it would be too dangerous. Ransom is also secretly deathly afraid of heights and can not bare to see Merlin at any elevation. What it comes down to with him is that he fears losing Merlin to her dreams, both physically and emotionally.
It should be mentioned that the reissue of Midsummer Moon has quite a few errors. Really simple ones that should/could have been fixed before the books went back out. Words like 'be' instead of 'he' in some instances, and missing commas in others. I also noticed this in the reissue of Seize the Fire. I wish that before the reissue the books had been re edited.
Editing flubs aside, Midsummer Moon was a great book. It is one of Laura Kinsale's lighter works and is, in my humble opinion, superbly funny. Jessica of Racy Romance Reviews along with a few other commenters talked about the "light" humor that appeared in Laura Kinsale's Seize the Fire a couple weeks ago. I don't know if it was ever agreed upon as to whether it was truly light or not. But my thoughts on it is that Laura Kinsale does humor in such a way that it almost seems as though it is not supposed to be funny. It comes off in a natural, real life way, that borders on dry and cynical, but at the same time it can be laugh out loud hilarious.
Unlike most of her other books that have humorous moments here and there, Midsummer Moon is filled with the funny. She has taken the lightness that shows up sporadically in Seize the Fire and her other work, and expanded it through the entire of Midsummer Moon. I had a great time reading a side of Kinsale's work that I never had before. Who knew she could do comedy so well? But don't get me wrong, the story is not a slap stick comedy, it has depth as well. I think I can best describe it as amusing with a chance of thoughtful. I want more. Oh, well. This book charmed me into the wee hours of the night and in the end, I really, really enjoyed it. But I may be biased because there isn't much that Laura Kinsale has written that I haven't cared for. Grade A.