Book Jacket


rank 1974
word count 30378
date submitted 09.11.2009
date updated 30.07.2012
genres: Fiction, Romance
classification: moderate

A Midsummer Night's Secret

Sarah Bartlett

Travel journalist, India Lake, must safeguard not only an occult bronze table, but save herself from the flames of love's deadliest fire.


When India inherits a house in the south of France and leaves London for the summer, her freedom-loving lifestyle and passionate affair with architect, Theo Bright, look set to suffer. But Theo's dark past catches up with him in London and his only escape is to join India.

The discovery of a sixteenth century travelling trunk and its contents leads India on an extraordinary quest to discover an ancient bronze table. Following up messages left by the blind professor who bequeathed her the house, India meets the enigmatic French archaeologist, Lucien Beroul, also seeking the table. Dangerously seductive, who is he? Can he be trusted? India's hunger for a mystical scoop, forces her to join him on the mission and their provocative relationship begins.

Caught up in a web of passion, possession, adventure and lies, India discovers not only the secret of the bronze table, but the truth about Theo, Beroul, love and most of all herself.

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alchemy, historical revelation, love, magus, mystery, palindrome, sex, sol et luna, vindication

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Jane Alexander wrote 1627 days ago

How could I not comment? This book is simply fabulous. It has the lot - intrigue, romance, mystery, great characters, fabulous settings and great pace. My advice? Read it, love it, back it. What more can I say? Oh yes, looking forward to the paperback.

annie c. wrote 1625 days ago

This was one of the first books I read on this site. I was thrilled as a reader though much daunted as a writer. (!) Then I realized this was an author whose non-fiction books I'd purchased and admired. Her writing chops have been recognized by both publishers and readers, so no wonder. Looking forward to when A Midsummer Night's Secret comes down off my cyber shelf and on to my real book shelf.

I found my original comment (out of the nearly 500 that were here at the time) and wanted to post it again:

Good heavens, I love this book. I'm swamped with work, yet here I am, on Chapter 11, not wanting to stop to leave a comment telling you I can't stop! Some thoughts:

Great heroine on a sensual, mysterious, adventurous Grand Quest. I don't just want to go along for the ride with her - I want to be this woman. I want her career, I want her benefactor, I want her south-of-France home, I want her sex life, her wine cellar, her mysterious trunk and the Bronze Table! Talk about wanting to get lost in a good book!

I love that Theo isn't written as the one-dimensional bad-boy and that you added a complexity and mystery that makes it hard to dismiss him - at least until I know more. Love the poetic soul of her mentor-in-spirit, Professor Grenier. And now Beroul is on the scene (!). Another mystery - I'm not sure what to make of him yet. Hmmmm...

Kudos for weaving in sentient, even tactile descriptions that highlight the narrative instead of bogging it down. So many subtly lyrical touches, like the name of her new home, "Papyrus," and the messages that seem to summon magical synchronicity into her life. And I became a giddy president of your fan club for bringing Giordano Bruno into this! It looks to link intrigue and love stories in two different centuries. I am so hooked!

You only put this out in July and you have 474 comments, so I'm a drop in the ocean of love for this book, but really, it should've been snatched up after you typed 'The End.'

I'm sorry I'm unable to do much more than squee at the moment. The most I can offer right now is to point out some typos, if you'd like. If that changes as I continue to read, I'll let you know, but really, I just want to find out what happens next. :-)

John Life wrote 632 days ago

Hi Sarah,
your books moves along right fast...
and that I like.
so i am going to read more.

kindest regards
john life

CarolinaAl wrote 1324 days ago

An engrossing romantic suspense. Thought provoking plot. Very believable characters and vivid scenes. Cinematic descriptions. Convincing dialogue. Robust storyline. Confident writing. A first rate read. Backed.

CraigD wrote 1447 days ago

This is nicely exotic, with bits of clever wit within the writing. Love the Donne quote, too. Hope you do well with this, and glad to back it.
The Job

Bocri wrote 1449 days ago

06 May 2010
I found 'A Midsummer's Night's Secret' to be flawless. (No hype or over-exaggeration) I thoroughly enjoyed it. I cannot understand why it does not have a higher ranking since it is so evidently the product of a consummate and erudite writer. BACKED. Robert Davidson. The Tuzla Run.

Battle Knyght wrote 1463 days ago

My comments are as before.
Wake up, back this book.
Backed again

Becca wrote 1488 days ago

This was very easy to read. Excellent voice and a wonderful pace. I liked your MC, India, off the bat. It's very clean too in regards to punctuation and grammar, though you may want to look into your semicolon usage (those can be hard for anyone to master though) I really liked the tension and the visual of them back to back and her thinking of it "like bookends" was wonderful. One of my favorite things about this was the inclusion of emotion. It's missing in so many of the books on this site. You have real talent, and this was a pleasure to read. It had everything. Will shelve this on my next rotation.
The First Phoenix

SusieGulick wrote 1494 days ago

Dear Sarah, Lots of dialogue & short sentences moves your book so very quickly. :) Good read. :) I love romance. :) Since I already backed your book, I'll put you on my watchlist again, to possibly help your book advance. Thanks for backing, "He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not." I hope you'll take a moment to BACK my UNEDITED version of it: ..... "Tell Me True Love Stories" ..... Thanks, Susie :)

SusieGulick wrote 1495 days ago

Dear Sarah, I like that your book has dialogue to help me understand & be in the book, too. Thank you for taking the time to send me feedback on mine. :) Since I already backed your book, I'll put you on my watchlist, to help your book advance. I hope you'll take a moment to back my 2 books. Thanks, Susie :)

Famlavan wrote 1497 days ago

Everything about this says quality. Predicates, characterisation, narrative and dialogue enhances the storyline - Did you have to post it while my book was up?

SusieGulick wrote 1500 days ago

Thanks for your story, Sarah. Hope you'll read mine, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not & my unedited version, Tell Me True Love Stories of He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not. Thanks, Susie :)

Suzannah Burke wrote 1501 days ago

My initial reading and backing of this book was done without comment...frankly I felt inadequate to the task, however, I am here again, and commenting finally...Yes! and Yes again..the goosebumps on my arms and that gut level kick that says oh uh-huh this ones a mover, needs to be in print and when do I get my autoghraphed copy.

All the superlatives have been used and re-used. The only thing I can add is READ IT, BACK IT and get it on the damned ED where it rightfully belongs...and people please hurry up about it..I want my autographed copy damn it!

Backe again because this deserves it...placed on my recommende reading list because I do recommend it.
Suzannah Burke
Dudes Down Under

Paige Pendleton wrote 1502 days ago

Gracious. What's not to like? I think this has it all, from conception to execution. Every aspect handled masterfully : character (s)!, atmosphere, setting, story, pace/tensions. Set out to read first 3 and clicking on 9 before I knew it. Encompasses several genres and is a serious and most worthy addition to each. A delightful read, and backed. With a key bang and respect.

DKTD1 wrote 1502 days ago

1st thought: Ewwww, chick lit!
Then I read chapters 1 and 2 and found it was excellent writing, well paced with great dialogue.
Never a shortage of surprise on this site.

Eunice Stubbins, among others...

lionel25 wrote 1503 days ago

Sarah, your chapter one is a smooth read. Good job.

Happy to back your work.

Joffrey (The Silver Spoon Effect)

udasmaan wrote 1504 days ago

Backed. a wonderful read for me.

shah - the interpreter

Burgio wrote 1504 days ago

This book has a little bit of everything: travel, romance, intrigue . . . India is likable and the last thing we wish for her is to be conned by Beroul into losing out on the table, or maybe worse, being made out a fool by him. Like your writing style a lot. Constantly moves a story forward. Burgio (Grain of Salt).

Dawn DeRemer wrote 1506 days ago

This story is hard to fit in any one genre. There are passages that read like literary fiction, a liberal dash of romance, mystery, adventure and paranormal intrigue. You apply your craft graciously, hook the reader and pace the event to keep our curiosity peaked. Characterization is good, dialogue believable and no long narrative expositions. Polished work.
Dawn De Remer

lizjrnm wrote 1507 days ago

This is beautifully rendered and very heartfelt - draws the reader in perfectly! BACKED

The Cheech Room

pinkcoffee wrote 1516 days ago

Excellent... I like the last line in chapter one, "something other than desire for her glinted in his blue eyes, but it scuttled back inside his soul to hide". Very well written. I wish you the best of luck with it kind regards pinkcoffee 'In The Moment'

Bamboo Promise wrote 1516 days ago

GREAT WORK. backed.

Colin Normanshaw wrote 1516 days ago

Your long pitch is good and this book is beautifully written. A good pace but wioth a gentle style so that youfind yourself pulled into the book without realising it. Characters and dialogue are strong. I can think of nothing to suggest for improvement here. Backed with pleasure. Colin

jammer wrote 1525 days ago

Sarah, I've certainly read this before, but it's still on my WL so backing in case I didn't first time round. Intriguing, sexy, romantic - with interest right off the bat. Very much enjoyed what I read - this would make a perfect holiday read! Well done.

A.P. Constantin wrote 1535 days ago

Intriguing premise treated with the lightness of Chick Lit without the saccharine.
I have some suggestions for improvement but I am afraid to touch something that works so well. Backed!

A.P. Constantin

The Crystal Butterfly Club

Jesse Hargreave wrote 1536 days ago

Backed January 16.

Jesse - Savant

Lorri wrote 1553 days ago


Great first line. Well written, nice flow, and I like the tone and style.

Happy to back.


Beval wrote 1556 days ago

Once again Jane Alexander has put her talent spotting gift to good use.
How right she is about this.

Tacitus wrote 1560 days ago

Hi Sarah - I don't know how I've missed your book with a house in France (you and me both) and it's thanks to Jane Alexander that I have found you. This is wonderful and very professional already (OK now I've checked your profile, so it is professional!). I like the pace, the humour, the characters - especially your MC - such verve and vivacity - and could hardly 'turn the pages' fast enough. I wish you luck with this novel; I think it should be published. BTW are you sure the Maitre's secretary would call it luncheon - perhaps she's from the Home Counties? I would go for déjeuner. On my shelf. John / Tacitus 'Where Truth Lies'

Barry Wenlock wrote 1561 days ago

Hi! If I'd had the time, I would have read this through to the end and would certainly recommend it to others. Best of luck with it. Barry (Little Krisna and the Bihar Boys)

Miss Wells wrote 1563 days ago

I read one and fifteen. I loved the description of the zodiac in the Baptistery. (There's actually an even more bewitching one in the church of San Miniato which is loaded with astrological symbols). It's kind of frustrating and difficult to be able to only read a couple of chapters of the books here because there was much in the fragments of your story that I found fascinating. It's like passing places on a train when you only read two chapters - you get a sense of them but nothing detailed.

Steve.Tee wrote 1568 days ago

Sarah, thank you for the invitation to read your work.

As one would expect from a published author, the writing is of a very high standard.
“Like sleeping lions, the mountains plummeted down towards the Mediterranean, spreading their craggy paws apart...”
Quite lovely. I wish I'd written that – and probably will!

However, I wouldn't be a pedantic reviewer if I couldn't find at least one typo (so far): A lonely magpie screeched in the DISTANCE evergreen oaks.
Also, again in chapter 3, you've got dialogue from two separate characters on the same line.
But enough with the pedant, eh?

I'm temped to suggest that a published author should use her own resources and give others a chance. It's hard enough for us would-bes to play Authonomy snakes and ladders without the professionals hogging the limelight.
However, on the basis that quality should always prevail over begging letters, tin cups and buddy-ups, I have no option other than to assist your cream in rising to the top.

And with good reason. I shall no doubt return to this time and time again.
Regardless of whether I will find the story anywhere “up my street” I'm quite taken with the detail work – so, for me, it's worth reading just for more scraggy lion paws!

All the best,

jammer wrote 1571 days ago

Hey Sarah, I don't do swap reads but you asking made me have a look at your writing and I'm glad I did - your pitches are excellent and well worked - your prose is very, very strong - reminded me of Anita Brookner but with more gusto. Such good writing - economical but not sparse - every sentence I read was choice and effective - well done.

Jonathon_LaMella wrote 1571 days ago

Great story, nice plot, and well written dialogue. :) Yiou have interesting characters, a major plus, that will keep readers turning page. Awsome job! Backed.

Thomas J. Winton wrote 1573 days ago

Sarah, Chick Lit isn't usually my bag. As a matter of fact, I just told somebody the other day the only "chicklet" I ever knew was a brand of chewing gum. OK -- enough with the silly jokes. You are obviously an accomplished wordsmith, and it's easy to see why your book was ranked so high when you were more active on this site. I loved, among other lines, "...the words, beautiful, evocative, beguiling, kidnapped her mind". The sense of place is masterfully drawn, and the writing is smooth and provocative. It's a wonder no publisher has yet snapped this up. Backed. Best of luck. Thomas J Winton (Beyond Nostalgia)

Leigh Fallon wrote 1587 days ago

Backed this first time. I'm back now for round two.
The best of luck with it.
Leigh Fallon
The Carrier of the Mark

C.C.McKinnon wrote 1587 days ago

I am so glad that I read this. I was just surfing around and the cover caught my eye. This is wonderfully written and full of goodness. I love the setting, characters (ooh just as Jane said). I am happy to back to sip a Kir :)

Zehra Mustafa wrote 1592 days ago

What an exciting read; a well told narrative with a fantastic hook. Backed!

say anything wrote 1594 days ago

This is so far at least an enchanting book, love is liquid gold indeed, for me a rare pleasure in reading is when the authors descriptive powers take me to other prettier more exotic, I suppose better locales. Your wonderful love story, alchemists tale has done that for me, I look forward to reading on and on

Francis Albert McGrath wrote 1600 days ago

Backed before, just giving it another one. A brilliant read, and absolutely publishable.

Grailer wrote 1601 days ago

Sorry it took so long to read this. I lost track and have just thi spast few hours attempted to catch up. I read into Ch5 and didn't really notice you had placed in the Chic Lit genre - fair enough I guess but it seemed like a mystery novel to me; a broader audience for sure.
The writing is always interesting and you keep the pace just about right for my reading style. The writing also looked clean. The only thing I noticed - and I may have read it wrong - was in Chapter 2:
'She wasn’t even on her way to France and no doubt he had bumped into some old flame or new one.'
- Did you mean ‘He wasn’t even on his way to France and no doubt he had bumped into some old flame or new one.'
Backed and hope you have success with this. I'm intrigued enough to leave it on my watchlist and find out more.
James - The Grailers of Omicron

Daniel A. Smith wrote 1602 days ago

Hello Sarah,
I backed your book before your ranking and comments vanished and I am glad to back it again. The first chapter works so well for me, setting up the main character, the mystery, the sexual tension, and the quest. Great last line of the first chapter. Keep up the good writing.
Daniel "Storykeeper"

Haley Brite wrote 1603 days ago

Hey Sarah!
I'm sorry that I'm reading this so late seeing as how we agreed to swap about a week ago.
I can't even remember if you've looked at mine :)
Your pitch really got me interested and when I started to read, you didn't disappoint. There's so much happening in this story and the characters are very well developed.
I'd love to have this book in paperback and really get into it.
Great work, I will be back to read more!

Haley Brite - Hart

Ruthy wrote 1603 days ago

This book has so much to draw a reader... there is magic at work here.

Fish*sLove wrote 1605 days ago

I wrote a comment but my computer/internet is being weird... anyway...

Beautifully written. Your character, India, is fabulous and well developed. Your voice is strong, your writing impeccable!

A true reason why this book is on my bookshelf! ;)


Dominic Shea wrote 1606 days ago

Hi Sarah. The quality of the writing is top notch. Lot's of good things: dialogue, scene-setting, characterisation, plotting, pace and so on. Yet another authonomy surprise. I've just started reading but want to come back for more - and this is not normally my kind of book (the more I read on authonomy, the more that excuse seems to sound hollow). So perhaps this is more my kind of book than I realised. Great work. Look forward to more later. (Typos are a poor substitute for real comments but in Chapter One - is 'samaratin' meant to be 'Samaritan'?). Shelved. All the best Dominic.

Christina McClean wrote 1606 days ago

The name India immediately warms me to the story and the person. The pitch is well written and clear. The descriptions are super and convey a great deal 'His heart then, a fragile thing, locked in an iron cage.' France and the seductive overtones make an excellent exotic team. Snappy, dialogue of today. Makes it a brilliant read. Coudn't put it down.
Backed of course
From Under the Bed

Datahog wrote 1608 days ago

Great opening line (the importance of those are greatly underestimated here), and the intrigue at the end of the first chapter concerning why India got the house is a nice hook.

Paula Ring wrote 1612 days ago

I have no hesitation calling this book a classic. It has everything! Intrigue, colour, strong well-rounded characters and beautifully written. I cannot wait to see that amazing cover standing out in the bookstore windows.

SareyFairy wrote 1612 days ago

Hi Sarah
What a great opening to a book. It really hooked me in and kept my interest. Your main characters are well written both with an air of mystery to them that makes the reader desperate to read on and uncover their secrets. I have backed this book with pleasure.
Sarah. T-cup and The Dream Team Fairies

Raymond Nickford wrote 1614 days ago


India's initial emotional confusion over whether to stay with her 'beautiful bastard', Theo, or stay more permanently in the S of France, is a good initial hook. Still more so, for me, is the concept of a man being both beautiful and - metaphorically - a bastard for his lover [you clarify this wonderfully with a hint in the last sentence of your first chapter].
You make short shrift of backstory by neatly weaving and condensing so that I had a clear picture of India's early dilemma and a feel for the immediacy of the scene in the Paris hotel. You select detail judiciously, always keeping waffle at bay.
Presentation of the black envelope whetted my appetite the more because you mischievously make India say 'I'll look at it later' - excellent mischief!
India does seem incorrigibly susceptible to those she sees as good-looking men; we have the 'beautiful' Theo - 'bastard' notwithstanding - the 'inviting smile of the young waiter' and we are later to have Lucien Beroul.
All very red blooded and delightfully spontaneous but arousing, perhaps, a sympathy for India as I imagine she will become the victim of her susceptibilities over her judgement/restraint.
Theo strikes me as a greasy, unctuous snail that crawls over women in the night - and the day, for good measure, reminding me of five years my daughter wasted for a snail.
At the end of scene 1, your last sentence provides an aperitif for the next scene while providing for the reader a subtle bridge to forthcoming events mystical.
I was very slightly confused as to why India is having 'afternoon sex' [delightful expression in itself, reminiscent of tea and macaroons on the terrace] when we open by calling Theo a 'bastard'. But then I suppose I'm getting a little old fashioned for your target readers. Anyway, it's entirely consistent with India's susceptibilities and perhaps the volatility of her pheremones. The blame for afternoon sex could lie, of course, with Theo who seems to have a Byronic appetite - cousins, I mean.
Now, in your last sentence, well, that is something else. That makes me sit up. It excites. Here it is:
'He [Theo] smiled. Something other than desire for her glistened in his blue eyes, but it scuttled back inside his soul to hide'. The import of that sentence, for everything said of their relationship before and perhaps anything to be said of it in the future, was telling. For that sentence, alone, I could - given the leisure - read and read. Oh, and shelved.
(A Child from the Wishing Well)

maitreyi wrote 1614 days ago

I AGREE WITH jane above - this book is terrific and i hope it shoots back up once more for you.