She has no idea what to expect...
In the aristocratic world of the magnificent plantations of nineteenth-century Louisiana, young Amalie knows how to behave as the new mistress at Belle Grove, but her arranged marriage to Julien Declouet is full of surprises.He's as different as night and day...Amalie finds her husband perfectly polite, although oddly aloof, by day, but a completely different man when he visits her in her chambers at night, full of white-hot emotions and passion that sweeps her away. As the steamy Louisiana summer swelters onward, and the mystery of her husband's dual personalities intensifies, the once-innocent Amalie finds herself embroiled in one turbulent scandal after another...
This was a good story. I liked both Robert and Amalie and enjoyed their story. This is the first book I've read by this author and based off this, I might try more of her work in the future.
This story was written back in 1984 and you can tell it by the writing a bit but it’s not as cheesy as some of the stories of this time (Not that I'm an expert on books from the '80s). The love scenes seemed a bit more descriptive than I expected. The descriptions are past the floweriness of bodice rippers but not quite to the point of modern erotica that blatantly names everything.
**Warning** This story takes place on a plantation in Louisiana in the 1800s and there are slaves in the story. Amalie is good to them and the only violence to a slave in the story is stopped by Amalie but if reading about plantation owners having slaves will bother you then you wont want to read this book.
Amalie hasn't had a lucky life as she lost her parents and then a fiancée, one right after another. By the time she emerged from years of mourning she was 24 and considered a spinster with little hopes of gaining a husband. Unexpectedly, Amalie gets news of a possible arranged marriage and it takes place quickly. With 2 meetings she’s married to a man she barely knows, Julien, and becoming lady of the plantation.
Robert is Julein’s cousin and owns a plantation nearby. He was practically raised by Julien's mother and the 2 of them are very close. Robert is unhappy with his Aunt and cousin when they encourage him to take Julien's place in his wife’s bed chamber…a wife that Julien has had for 3 months but has been unable to bed (the reason isn't given until the end but with his past times it's easy guess he’s a homosexual). Robert doesn't want to do this, knows it’s a bad idea but he can’t resist the chance to be with Amalie and goes to her in the night (from an adjoining door from Julien's room) when she can’t see his face.
As the story begins, there’s rain and some flooding near the plantation and Amalie is coming to the house to get advice from Julien's mother when she hears her talking to someone. She walks in to find Robert there. Robert was Julien's best man at the wedding but Amalie was so busy with meeting her new husband and many new people she barely remembers him. As Amalie walked in to the room, the discussion between the two stops abruptly and Amalie has the distinct impression that it was about her. Telling herself she must be imagining it, she goes about dealing with the flooding issue which Robert helps with since their overseer is MIA and Julien doesn't bother himself with the running of the plantation. During the flood, Robert ends up saving Amalie from being swept away and they have a moment but Amalie puts it out of her head. Soon after that, Amalie is gratified to wake to find her husband finally coming to her bedchamber and staying (he did try twice before to consummate their marriage but ran off crying both times). Amalie is surprised with “Julien” being so tender yet passionate with her, making her first experience a joy instead of the task she expected it to be. The next day however, Julien doesn't act any different toward her and Amalie's a bit hurt by this. As time goes by she receives more nightly visits but during the day Julien always acts like normal. There are some issues with the plantation overseer that is very insolent and seems to have some hold over Julien. Amalie also starts to feel a bit uncomfortable around Robert as she finds that she’s attracted to him. She doesn't want to be as she’s happy with her husband (at least during his nightly visits) and she’s upset about her feelings because they’re not proper. She tries to smother them but it doesn't help when she notices a heat in his gaze when he looks at her.
Amalie stays in the dark a little longer but things start to get out of hand when Julien starts showing signs of jealousy over Robert. When Amalie steals a kiss with “Julien” and then finds out it’s Robert, she starts to seriously doubt it was Julien visiting her at night and soon she realizes it’s been Robert all the time. Amalie is shocked and outraged but doesn't know what to do. She enjoyed her times with Robert but she thought those moments were with her husband and to find out they weren't and to know her husband must have had a part in it was even more of a blow. Amalie makes her anger known to Robert but by this time he’s fallen for her and wants her to run away with him. She refuses but soon the strife between Robert and Julien hits a high and they end up at odds over Amalie. In the middle of the dispute, Julien disappears and then ends up dead. Suspicion is cast on both Amalie and Robert and with everything that's happening, they both begin to doubt the other a bit. There are also some rumors of their affair and so Robert stays away from Amalie to avoid more talk. There's some drama and trying times as the real killer is discovered and mother nature causes some major problems from which they barely pull through. After things settle down and Amalie pushes things a bit, she and Robert come together for good and start their HEA.
This was an enjoyable story. I liked the characters (well all except the overseer) and the story was pretty good. My 2 complaints are that it was over descriptive at times...the first part of the book was a bit slow due to this. It quickened later but there were still a few points here and there where all the extra descriptions weren't really needed. Also, towards the end I was a bit disappointed at the lag in their relationship or at least I expected a more obvious pull between them. I guess with all the extra descriptiveness about their environment, cloths and culture there could have been a little more time spent on the emotions. The lack of emotions wasn't there all the time, but at times they almost weren't present and then suddenly they'd be back. Mostly this was when they were at odds after Julien's death but I guess I just expected a bit more on both sides. Overall it was still an enjoyable story. :)
* note - The narrator did a great job. She did the accents and had a good distinctions between the different voices so there was never a question about who was talking.
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Any additional comments?
I felt like this story was right there to getting good but some how it feel short I just didn't do it for me the narrator was just ok. don't know if ill be reading any more Jennifer blake
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
What did you like best about Midnight Waltz? What did you like least?
The historical setting and glimpse into how their lives might have been. The narrator's voice characterization of the hero, Robert.
What did you like best about this story?
The mystery and development of the characters caught in circumstances where they all want to please each other, even as conflicted as it may seem.
What three words best describe Suzanne Toren’s voice?
Range, clarity, articulate.
Was Midnight Waltz worth the listening time?
Yes and no. If you enjoy the story, it's most definitely worth the time. Any shortcomings are overcome by the positive aspects of the performance.
Any additional comments?
The one voice that needed to be exceptional was that of the hero, Robert. He is a young, strong man in his prime. I imagine his voice deep, vibrant, and baritone. Unfortunately his voice was the one the narrator ruined. He sounded like an ancient, southern, septuagenarian. I imagined him wearing seersucker and suspenders. She made him sound scratchy, as in coughing and drew out his words in a blah, blah way. When he whispered, it should have been a hushed, murmur with a hint of southern, sultry charm. He definitely needs a redo to make the narrated version true to the story.
I enjoyed this novel however it is not one that is fast paced. The author is very descriptive in her depiction of life during this time and the day to day life of the family. I will say that the plot is deeper than what the description leads you to believe. I would not recommend reading if you want a completely light and fun novel. I would purchase it again and do not regret the time it took to read. I will be seeking other novels by this author for my collection. It is very steamy during love scenes but not grotesque. The overall tone is sad and actually depicts something I could see happening during this time.