Publication Date: January 10, 2023
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads – StoryGraph
CW: injury/disfigurement; fire; minor slut shaming & infidelity (not with main couple)
Things I didn’t know I needed in my life – a modern-day, gender-bent retelling of The Phantom of the Opera. But now, I cannot imagine not having this book in my life. Midnight Duet is pure campy goodness. It leans into the bonkers but doesn’t take itself too seriously, so the story works perfectly. I’m a huge musical theater nerd, and I was DYING at all the musical references. It was perfection! Also, I never expected to cry over some rats (yes, rats), yet this book made me do that.
After suffering a tragic stage accident that leaves her scarred, Broadway diva Erika Greene leaves New York City behind and moves to Paris, Nevada, to restore the Paris Opera House (and its brothel) she inherited. However, the Paris Opera House needs a lot of TLC and is on the brink of bankrupting Erika. With the hot-shot real estate developer Raoul Decomte breathing down her neck to acquire the land the opera house is on, Erika is desperate, so she leases the place out to the German hair metal band Nachtmusik. Glam rock god, Christof Daae, band manager and lead singer of Nachtmusik who knows how to rock some gold pants, is determined to make Nachtmusik into international superstars…as long as he can keep it under wraps that he broke up with their keyboardist and doesn’t know if she’ll return to the band. When Erika realizes Christof’s predicament (and also sees he’s potentially damaging his vocal cords), she offers to help him for a price. Their nighttime music sessions led to something more, but will their relationship survive in the spotlight?
While I’ve never read the original Phantom of the Opera, I know every word of the musical by heart. I loved how Jen Comfort took a familiar story and put her own spin on it. The story was both familiar and new at the same time. I loved all the nods to the musical, plus Comfort wove in plenty of other fun musical theater references (my favorite is Javert and Jean, Erika’s two rat companions). The plotting and pacing of the story were spot on, and I found myself devouring this book. I also adored Comfort’s writing style – it fits this story so well! It was very tongue-in-cheek, and I giggled with glee multiple times over a perfect theater reference or funny line.
I adored all the characters in this book – and boy, do we have a colorful cast of them! I loved all the kooky members of Nachmusick so much. Seriously who would have guessed hair metal and musical theater would work so perfectly together? I still get a dopey smile on my face every time I see the names Erika Greene and Christof Daae – such good nods to the OG characters. Also, I love that Raoul is a villain (I’ve always been team Phantom and hate Raoul).
Comfort did a great job making us see how much of a diva and self-destructive person Erika was before her accident in one chapter. I enjoyed her character growth and watching her fight to save the Paris Opera House however she could. She ends up stepping outside her comfort zone with the Nachtmusik crew, and Christof and the band have a good influence on her. I loved that she acknowledged that she was a terrible person before and didn’t make excuses for it. By the end, she’s a much happier and better person. Christof was a treat. This man was so type-A, and I could relate hard. He’s so focused on his goals and the band’s success that he sometimes makes poor choices and forgets to have FUN. But when he lets loose, he lets LOOSE.
When Erika and Christof are together, they seem more relaxed and carefree. They bring out the best in each other. While they initially start off attracted to each other and have white-hot chemistry, I enjoyed watching their relationship develop beyond attraction to love, even if they both struggled a bit to put their actual feelings into words. The romance in this was incredibly sexy (hello, sexy solo session and that closet scene!) yet incredibly sweet – it’s the perfect blend of both. And Comfort also knows how to twist a knife into the feelings with romance, my favorite kind of thing.
If this book wasn’t on your radar yet, put it there now! It was such a delightfully bonkers romance that theater fans will eat right up! I had such a blast while reading it and cannot wait to revisit it. This was my first book by Jen Comfort, but it won’t be my last! I will definitely be checking out more of her work soon!
Thank you to Wunderkind PR for the free ARC. All thoughts, ideas and opinions expressed in this review are my own.