cover image Midnight Angel

Midnight Angel

Lisa Kleypas. Avon Books, $7.99 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-380-77353-4

Beautiful, protected Anastasia Kaptereva was about to make a brilliant marriage to the wealthy Prince Mikhail Angelovsky. The problem is she's killed him. At least she was found unconscious near his body with the bloody knife in her hand. In 1870, at the beginning of this promising, evocative novel, she escapes from a St. Petersburg prison and almost certain execution to England, where a relative finds her a position as governess to Emma Stokehurst, the 12-year-old daughter of Lord Lucas Stokehurst. While Anastasia is haunted by the murder she can't quite remember, the Stokehursts are haunted by the fire that deprived Emma of her mother and Lucas of his wife and his hand. In Anastasia, Lucas finds new love, while Anastasia finds not only love but some promise of protection-at least until her past catches up with her. Kleypas (Dreaming of You) has done her research, creating a real sense of place and period, her dialogue is rich, her humor real and her ``evil'' characters never stoop to being stock simplistic boogeymen (or women). If there is a problem, it is with her pacing. After a ripping beginning, Midnight Angel bogs down as the lovers retreat to get to know each another, then speeds up as danger approaches, only to stumble at a rushed and improbable confession and finally malinger anticlimactically in an attempt, one suspects, to set the scene for a sequel. (Jan.)