Monday, May 13, 2013

Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas

I’m a wildlife biologist by profession.  I have two dogs and a cat and my fondest wish is to own a small acreage someday so I can have a few Llamas, chickens, horses and a whole bunch more dogs.  So it will be no surprise that throughout all the Hathaway books I’ve felt a certain affinity with Beatrix. The way Kleypas wrote her in all the earlier books was great – funny, kind-hearted, naturally wise and self-contained, and not in a boring way like Win.  I was really looking forward to this book. So, I was pretty much setting myself up for disappointment.  Not that I was too disappointed but I really wanted it to be AMAZING and it was just good. The match chosen for Beatrix is Christopher Phelan, a conventional and rather shallow young man who is changed by two years in the Crimean War.  In fact one might say that he’s a wounded animal - like all the animals Beatrix takes in.  And that right there is where a little bit of the disappointment comes in – an obvious and somewhat un-fun choice for Beatrix.  A fun choice might have been a rakish, urbane fellow who is reformed by Beatrix’s whimsical nature and learns to embrace nature and dirt?  I don’t know - Lisa Kleypas is the mistress here and she probably knows best but I didn’t love that this book ends up being quite a bit darker than the others in the series.  Kind of a bummer for fun Bea’s story. 

There was also a shade of disappointment in that I really want the characters I love to be pursued and courted and wooed and adored and that’s not quite how this book rolls. The two develop a bond when Beatrix responds to a letter he's written to her frivolous friend, Prudence.  His letter cries out for response but Prudence can't be bothered so Beatrix does so in her stead.  They continue to exchange increasingly personal letters, and fall in love with Christopher never knowing it is not Prudence writing to him.  Upon his return he struggles with the demons that plague him from the war and resolves to find and marry Prudence while Beatrix agonizes.  Eventually the subterfuge is revealed and while Christopher loves Beatrix,  he’s too tied up in his inner struggles to really pursue her and in fact he tries, for her sake, to refuse to marry her.  The main pursuer here, the one who pushes the relationship forward and does most of the hard work, is Beatrix and that wasn’t what I wanted for her. 

Don’t get me wrong, Christopher is definitely appealing, and the way he (eventually) loves Beatrix is heart-meltingly adorable.   In fact, (and here’s disappointment #3) the more annoying of the pair is Beatrix who for most of the book acts rather juvenile.  I found myself irritated with her pushy chatterbox routine more than once.  It struck me that, like Cam, Beatrix might work better as secondary character then she does in her own book hence even more disappointment. 

For all that complaining and…disappointment I still enjoyed it well enough.  I liked it better than Married by Morning (book 4 in the series), I just wish it had been amazing like Beatrix.  3 out of 5 stars.

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