October 21, 2012A Waltz at Midnight by Crista McHugh * I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
When her mistress receives an utterly unromantic letter from a potential suitor, servant Susanna Parkwell is asked to craft an appropriate response. Though hesitant to take part in the deception, Susanna agrees, never dreaming the scorned suitor will write back.
Theodore Blakely abhors being pressured by his family to marry, but he’s intrigued by the witty refusal he receives from “Charlotte”. After exchanging more letters, Ted believes he’s found a soul mate in his thoughtful and understanding correspondent, and asks permission to formally court her.
Though racked with guilt over her lies, Susanna can’t resist the opportunity to meet Ted in person. So she poses as Charlotte at a holiday ball, where she vows to tell him the truth. But when the clock strikes midnight, will Susanna have the courage to reveal her identity and risk losing the man she loves?
Because of the war Susanna and her brother Jake lost everything, including his leg. They now live with in the north with their aunt while her brother attends law school. She is working for their aunt because she has nowhere else to go plus it is helping her brother fund his classes.
The girls are not nice to her and it’s all she can do to hold her tongue. Charlotte is the only one that is kind to her and she is in need of help. She convinces Susanna to help her write a letter to an unwanted to suitor to discourage him without upsetting Charlotte’s family. Things don’t go as planned and Susanna and Theodore begin writing on a regular basis.
Theodore is being pressured by his father to form a union with Charlotte to obtain a patent they own. He is not happy about being forced into this relationship and tries to dissuade her with his horrifying stories of the war. What he never counted on was finding a kindred soul that he was able to share his truest desires and wishes with. She was refreshing in her responses and wasn’t shocked by anything he told her.
Susanna may have fallen in love with Ted but she feels guilty for her part in the whole ruse. After agreeing to meet him at a ball, things don’t go as planned and Charlotte’s secret is out. How will Susanna ever be able to face Ted again after she lied to him?
Susanna is a woman that wants to be loved and have a family but she feels like she will never have that opportunity since the war destroyed her life. She is a strong female that is trying to make the best of a bad situation and trying to help her brother get through law school. When she was asked to help Charlotte write the letter, she was conflicted but the money she was offered would help them move out that much sooner.
When she starts corresponding with Ted, she looks forward to the letters because he shares the world with her through his stories. She feels like she is stuck where she is with no way out. He sends her little trinkets sometimes and those are among her most cherished possessions. With every letter she falls more and more in love with him.
Ted is a former soldier that walked away from the battlefield. He has traveled to Europe but is now home. He loves to draw and doesn’t want to work for his father. He isn’t honest with himself or his father about what he is passionate about. Through Susanna’s encouragement he finds a way to mesh his love of drawing into the designs of the steam engine.
The masquerade ball is the perfect setting for them to meet and Susanna to convince him they had no future. You felt sorry for both of them because it’s obvious that she is in love with him and doesn’t want to walk away. He has plans for them that don’t coincide with hers. I loved the ending though, it was perfect.