Title: A Midnight Clear by Kaje Harper
Published on: January 1, 2021
Summary (from Goodreads):
Can a painful goodbye become a second chance?
Adric’s pretty sure his hopeless crush on his roommate Royce has an end date. They’ll finish their EMT training course before the holidays and take the exam. When they pass—fingers crossed— he has plans for job hunting, but even when he teases or nags, Royce refuses to discuss anything beyond that looming test date. That has to be a red flag.
Adric tries to be resigned to a bromance goodbye at Christmas. But when he and Royce end up in bed together, that changes everything. Doesn’t it?
The past couple of reads have been mostly fluff. I was hoping A Midnight Clear would be the change of pace amidst all the sweet romances.
🔍 How I Discovered It
Another Winter Wonderland story. This was one of the first stories I grabbed since I was familiar with the name Kaje Harper. I think I might have read one of her stories from another Christmas anthology.
This is the kind of story that stays with you long after you’ve finished it. The kind of story you didn’t expect to love but you did anyway.
A Midnight Clear is about first love, second-chance romance, and true love. It’s wonderful and beautiful yet utterly despairing and bittersweet at times. Still, it left me with mixed feelings. On one hand, I loved the first part. The buildup was paced well. Royce and Adric’s relationship was like a rubber band stretched until it snapped. I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m a sucker for The Big Breakup, especially when it’s done right and not over-the-top. I might have shed a tear or two as I lament how the two had the right love at the wrong time.
The second part was still pretty good, though it did not have the momentum the first part had. I was looking forward to the whole gaining the trust back. The talk, obviously, had to happen on-page, but the getting-to-know-you-again part happened off-page. I would have wanted to see that. I wanted the subtle things, the small steps towards renewing their relationship. I needed it. Because, at this point, Adric was not the only one with trust issues with Royce.
Royce was the character I loved but also kinda hate. I didn’t like what he did to Adric, and I thought he was being selfish. At the same time, I also understood where he was coming from. He was young and confused, and there was a lot going on in his life. So I would have wanted him to regain, not just Adric’s trust, but mine too as the reader. Though at times, I dreaded and kinda hated Royce. I know where he’s coming from, but he can be quite selfish.
But, as I happily discovered through my re-reading, this story was not just about romance. More than that, there was also growth and learnings of the characters about life in general. The family setup of both Royce and Adric showed why they acted like that, and it was also a factor in how they’ve moved on in their lives. I liked seeing how it affected their views in life and their growth.
For some reason, Royce and Adric seemed older than they really were. I had to constantly remind myself that they were 18 and 19-year-olds at the start of the story.
🥰 Who Would Like It?
For those looking for a mixture of romance and angst. Of friends-to-lovers trope. Of a second-chance romance.
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