Sophie Beckett never dreamed she'd be able to sneak into Lady Bridgerton's famed masquerade ball — or that "Prince Charming" would be waiting there for her! Though the daughter of an earl, Sophie has been relegated to the role of servant by her disdainful stepmother. But now, spinning in the strong arms of the debonair and devastatingly handsome Benedict Bridgerton, she feels like royalty. Alas, she knows all enchantments must end when the clock strikes midnight.
Who was that extraordinary woman? Ever since that magical night, a radiant vision in silver has blinded Benedict to the attractions of any other — except, perhaps, this alluring and oddly familiar beauty dressed in housemaid's garb whom he feels compelled to rescue from a most disagreeable situation. He has sworn to find and wed his mystery miss, but this breathtaking maid makes him weak with wanting her. Yet, if he offers her his heart, will Benedict sacrifice his only chance for a fairy tale love?
The first part of this book is ostensibly a retelling of the Cinderella fairytale story. All the factors are there - an evil stepmother and two stepsisters for whom our Cinders is basically a servant, a fairy god mother, a masquerade ball which Cinders has to leave from before the clock strikes midnight, a handsome hero who is transfixed by this unknown lady. She knows who he is, but he has no idea who she is, and for the next couple of years he is forever looking out for any lady who could be the mysterious lady from the masquerade.
Fast forward from the ball and Sophie is no longer the maid of her stepmother, but she is working in the country estate of a well-to-do family when she is nearly attacked by a group of young gentlemen. When Benedict saves her and takes her off to his own cottage not too far away, Sophie nurses him through an illness. As they spend time together Benedict recognises that he is attracted to Sophie, but he is still stuck on the idea of the mysterious lady from the ball. I just wanted to shout at Sophie to stop being silly and just tell him who she was for goodness sake.
As far as characterisations go, I really liked Benedict, although there were times that I felt that the author introduced something about him to differentiate him from his brothers, but that that then wasn't really followed through all that well.
As for Sophie, I didn't really connect with her all that well, and thought that her reluctance to reveal her identity to firstly Benedict and then others was something that could definitely have been avoided.
Overall I didn't enjoy this as much as I enjoyed the previous book, but it wasn't too bad. I did love the little glimpses that we saw into the next book, which I already have from the library ready to read!