Review: Midnight Duet

Recap: A playful, more sexually-charged and less violent play on The Phantom of the Opera, The Midnight Duet is a modern telling of an opera house owner, tormented by a dark past and deformed face who falls deeply in love with a singer. Midnight Duet is a like Phantom meets Fifty Shades of Grey. The characters in Phantom are all updated here; Erik becomes Erika, a woman who has left Broadway after a chandelier fell on her face (also a direct reference to Phantom) and escapes to Paris, Nevada to manage her family’s old opera house that remains there but in bad shape. Christine in Phantom becomes Christof, the lead singer and manager of a German metal rock band, which stays at the opera house in Paris to workshop their a new album, inspired by America. Raoul remains Raoul in Duets, and attempts to buy Erika’s opera house from her.

When Christof requests that his band stay at the opera house, initially Erika sees dollar signs. She is broke and barely able to pay her debts on the building, so she is happy to oblige and let the band stay there for a high price. What she doesn’t expect is to fall madly in love with the band’s lead singer, Christof. In this modern re-telling of Phantom, however, the feelings are very much mutual. Christof’s ex-girlfriend had recently quit the band as a keyboardist and moved on with a new lover, so Christof finally lets go and allows himself to indulge in Erika. The two have a lustful and detailed, steamy affair that ultimately turns out to be true love.

But the state of the theater is still in shambles. Erika receives an offer from Raoul, a hotel manager in Las Vegas, to buy it outright and offers Erika the opportunity to perform there regularly. But as a former Broadway star, Erika doesn’t want to be relegated to performing covers in a theater that no one visits when her dream is to be a true star. She also wants to continue to own the theater out of respect to the history of her family. When Christof’s ex comes back to return to both the band and a relationship with Christof, the “what are we going to do?” questions get tangled in a web of love, allegiance, commitment, legacy and confusion.

Analysis: I’ll admit it. Midnight Duets is a little hokey. Some of the writing is a little cheesy, particularly the ways Erika and Christof lustfully describe each other. Do people really talk like that? And some plot details made me question how modern this story really was supposed to be: after all, metal bands? How is this band popular in 2023? Are we sure it’s not 1983? Erika’s love for her pet rats kind of freaked me out and seemed a little overdramatic at the climax (no spoilers, I promise!). But I will also say this: it’s a fun, light read.

As silly as some parts were, the sex scenes are intense and sexy, and I was gripped by the story of the opera house itself and what Erika would do to keep it open. I wish I knew a little more about why she felt such an allegiance to it. In the beginning of the book, Erika is a self-described “bad person,” who doesn’t speak fondly of the opera house. She feels stuck there. She had nowhere to go and nothing to do after her accident and injury left her jobless on Broadway, so I would have liked to hear more about why she so passionately wanted to save the theater.

As cheesy as their relationship was, I did love Erika and Christof and their gothic, dark relationship. They were clearly meant for each other and played into both each other’s fantasies and ideals of what a romantic partner should be. Overall, it was a fun, light read that kept me quickly turning pages.

MVP: Erika. She goes through a lot of growth in this story as she sets out on a mission to become an overall better, kinder person. She also does it while staying authentically true to herself: dark, twisty, direct with others and confident. When she ultimately performs with her scars showing, it’s clear she has undergone an emotional upgrade.

You can buy Midnight Duet in paperback for $9.98.

Or on you Kindle for free!

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