Novella Review: ‘Twas the Night Before Mischief by Nina Rowan

‘Twas the Night Before Mischief (A Daring Hearts Novella)

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

This is a cute Christmas read, with a surprising amount of angst.  Both Penelope and Darius long for something more, yet neither knows how to break out of the mold of perfect behavior they have shaped themselves into.  Penelope has bridled for freedom, for recognition, for anything but being the paragon of perfection she has become.  She seethes with passion and she desperately wants to be something else.  Anything else but the obedient daughter of Henry Darlington.  Darius is the son of an earl, and being a younger son among many, he feels just as ignored as Penelope.  After his mother causes a family scandal that almost ruins his family, he is determined to do the right thing.  Even though he bristles at being unemotional and passionless.

Ha!  This couple burned up the pages with their wicked flirting, most of which consisted of word play sizzling with innuendo. Darius has just accepted a commission to write the Scientific and Literary Treasury, an encyclopedia of terms to replace more antiquated dictionaries, so words and their meanings are played up in the narrative.  He is also an inventor, seeking better methods of mixing chocolates for use at the Darlington’s confectionary.  He places a great deal of pride on his ability to think things through, so his attraction to Penelope puzzles him.  She is impulsive and so not like him.  After running away with a rake, Darius has agreed to go fetch her.  While he can pretend that he’s doing Henry a favor, he’s really chasing after her for himself. 

Penelope has run off to the wilds of Scotland with a fortune seeking rogue.  When his mother firmly rejects her because she’s the daughter of a shop keeper, she finds herself stranded in a tiny town, with no money and no possessions.  She’s desperate to make enough money to get herself back home.  When Darius arrives in town to fetch her back, she’s not happy.  She thinks he has the emotional depth of a herring, but their journey back to London will show her how wrong she is.  Even though she’s angry that he’s come to collect her like an errant schoolgirl, she’s relieved that her horrible ordeal will soon be over.  She’s also reminded of the fiery kiss she and Darius shared under the mistletoe…

I really liked Penelope.  Her mother died when she was a child, and when her father remarried and started a new family, she never felt that she was a part of it.  Though her new step-mother treated her with kindness, Penelope was aching over the loss of her mother, and she felt betrayed by her father.  She felt that he ignored her, and that she was invisible to him.  When he planned a Christmas celebration on the anniversary of her mother’s death, she finally gave into the temptation to be seen and heard.  Yes, in retrospect she could have chosen her rebellion a bit more carefully, but how could she have known that Wilkie was still tied so firmly to his mother’s apron strings?  Being sent packing with no money and no means to get home gave her time to think, and also gave her the opportunity to get to know Darius better when he finally showed up to escort her home.

‘Twas the Night Before Mischief is a pleasant way to while away some time  between holiday preparations.  The ending is very cute, too, and now I’m curious to read a longer book by Nina Rowan.

Grade:  B+

Available December 10, 2013

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Twas the night before mischief and all through the house, a lady was plotting-it was time to break out! 

When Penelope Darlington is persuaded to elope with a most unsuitable suitor, she wastes no time. With visions of passion and adventure dancing in her head, she steals away in the middle of the night, just before her father’s Christmas feast.

Fearing for his daughter’s reputation, Henry Darlington begs Darius Hall, the Earl of Rushton’s daring yet discreet son, to bring Penelope home. When Darius finally catches up to Penelope he is shocked. She’s not the silly little girl he expected, but a beautiful woman with a sharp mind and an allure that cannot be ignored.

Now forced to kidnap Penelope in order to bring her home, Darius and his new charge spend the next several days-and nights-in very close quarters. Penelope wanted passion and adventure, but she never could have imagined the pleasures Darius can provide . . .

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