Novella Review: A Waltz at Midnight by Crista McHugh


Title: A Waltz at Midnight

Author: Crista McHugh

Publisher:  Carina Press



May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

New York, 1866

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?


For a person who never had an appreciation for short stories, I certainly have been reading a lot of them lately!  I actually like the shorter length now, because I can fit them in when I’m not in the mood for a longer book.  Novellas also help me get over reading slumps, because I feel like I accomplished something in a short time period, so now I actually hop on Amazon to seek them out.

A Waltz at Midnight is a sweet romance, and though it wasn’t what I expected, I enjoyed it immensely.  Susanna works for her aunt just following the Civil War.  Having lost both of her parents and the family home during the rebellion, all Susanna has left is her brother and her pride.  A servant at a boarding house for privileged young women, she is caught up in a lie against her will.  To make extra money, she is asked to write a letter to Teddy to discourage him from courting Charlotte, one of the boarders.  As Susanna and Teddy exchange letter after letter, their initial dislike for each other slowly shifts to something else.  Is it love?  How can their love be based on a lie?

I loved this read and gobbled it up in one sitting.  The premise was interesting, with Teddy and Susanna sharing correspondences with other, and not actually meeting until almost the end of the book.  The letters start with Ted being dismissive of Charlotte, prompting a stern retort from Susanna.  As the letters flow back and forth, they both open up to each other, sharing their fears and dreams, and slowly gaining respect for each other.  I didn’t think I would enjoy this format, but their shift in feelings was convincing, and I was dying to see what would happen when they finally did meet in person.  I haven’t read many books set in this time period, either, so the historical details were interesting, too. 

A Waltz at Midnight is a very sweet romance with two likeable protagonists.  As Susanna and Teddy continued to exchange their letters, they each strove to improve themselves, and to become better people.  As their regard for each other grew, so did their desire to become people worthy of love.  Susanna’s anguish over her deception was convincing, and though the resolution was simplistic, I bought into it anyway.  This is another winner for me from Carina Press!

Grade: B+

Review copy provided by publisher

In stores February 27


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