Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Midnight Confessions - Candice Proctor

Widow Emmanuelle de Beauvais devotes herself tirelessly to the sick and injured of a grand city now occupied by the enemy. Then a night of unspeakable terror puts Emmanuelle at the center of a murder investigation and under the watchful eye of Yankee provost marshal Zachary Cooper. Although she despises the uniform and the war it represents, she finds the man who wears it impossible to resist.

Zach Cooper has never been bewitched by a woman. Even as Emmanuelle veils every truth with layers of lies, he finds himself undeniably drawn to her. Torn between passion and duty, Zach must uncover the dark secrets surrounding a series of murders that threaten to ensnare Emmanuelle in their menacing web. . .

I have previously enjoyed Candice Proctor's stories and this one seemed like a very interesting read. It is set in New Orleans at the end of the Civil War and it is a mystery. The heroine is a local doctor (well not exactly a doctor because that wasn't allowed but something similar) and the hero is a Yankee soldier.

They meet when Emmanuelle witnesses a murder and he is the one in charge of its investigation. The murder weapon was an original one and that is only the beginning. Several other murders take place and Zach starts suspecting that the motive may have to do with Emmanuelle and that, eventually, she may be the next victim.

I had a hard time believing in the attraction between them as they had such different views of the world. The intensity that I've found in other Proctor books seemed to be absent here and none of the characters seemed that interesting to me so it was a very slow read and I ended up picking some other book several times.

Regarding the mystery I also didn't work all that well. It seemed that every victim was connected to Emmanuelle’s latte husband, who had quite a few dark secrets, but I did not feel that darkness was fully explored. In fact, eventually, I guessed the culprit and was a bit disappointed because I felt there wasn't enough build up for the climax to truly work.

But I did like Proctor's descriptions of New Orleans, the social norms imposed by the Creole aristocracy and their way of life. Emmanuelle was considered to have married above her and her husband's family always treated her with some condescension. I also found it interesting that she details the lack of social status the coloured mistresses of the important Creole man had and the stigma attached to their children. She does include a lot of social information and that was the best part for me.

Grade: 3/5

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