Friday, May 10, 2013

Tempt Me at Twilight by Lisa Kleypas

The start of this book finds the heroine chasing a ferret through the winding halls of an exclusive Regency era London hotel.  As one does. The heroine is, of course, Poppy Hathaway, third of the Hathaway sisters, and the ferret is her sister Beatrix’s pet, Dodger, who enjoys being mischievous.  Poppy is in her third London season and she has finally met someone she likes and who likes her back.  Dodger has stolen a letter from her paramour which if made public would cause problems for the clandestine couple.  So Poppy pursues the ferret into the service hallways of the hotel and runs smack dab into a handsome stranger who turns out to be the Hotel’s enigmatic owner Harry Rutledge.  In that moment, though neither realizes it, their fates are sealed.

Poppy Hathaway is 23 and the third of the Hathaway sisters.  While Poppy loves and is close to her unconventional family, she’s had enough of the drama that comes with being a Hathaway.  In books 1 and 2 of the series, both of her older sisters were compromised before marrying their Gypsy husbands – scandalous indeed – and Poppy wants nothing of the sort for herself.  Unfortunately, Poppy herself isn’t your typical regency era maiden.  She’s smart and educated and growing up she was encouraged to talk, debate and speak her mind.  She doesn’t really like or know how to make small talk so despite being beautiful she confounds all the eligible men which is okay because she doesn’t really like them much either.  In her third season, she thinks she has finally found someone whom she cares for and who loves her back.  The only problem is that he is reluctant to declare for her and make their relationship official and public - the Hathaway unconventionality getting in the way.

Harry Rutledge is a thirty-something American who took London by storm ten years prior.  While sought after for his restless intelligence, wealth and competence, no one really knows his story and Harry keeps everyone at arm’s length and truly believes he is happiest that way.  He has been emotionally isolated all his life and doesn’t really understand the concept of love and is appalled at the idea that he might need someone else.  His emotional distance has also encouraged a ruthless character which he puts to good use when he decides that he will have Poppy as his wife.  While simultaneously being charming and manipulative, he maneuvers Poppy away from the man she loves and forces her to the Altar with him but not before she becomes aware of his machinations.

So that’s how Poppy’s marriage begins, with her wondering what kind of monster she’s married, while Harry is surprised that he is not just content to have Poppy, he actually wants her to want him. 

I think this is my favorite thus far in the Hathaway series.  I really enjoy the hero/villain type like Harry – he reminds of Rhett Butler: sardonic and charming, emotions hidden deep under a façade of insouciance.   I adored him.  The way Poppy and he figure each other out in the end is maybe a little easy but I found it satisfying nonetheless.  Kleypas as always has a great sense of humor and she is really great at writing dialogue and setting up scenes. Poppy is especially good at communicating and making intelligent conversation.  As Harry observes - the thing that made her struggle on the marriage market as a single woman actually is her greatest charm as a married woman. She also did a great job in this book knowing exactly why her two lovers go together well which I think was perhaps missing a little in book 2 between Winn and Merripen whose connection seemed more mystical than anything else.  I also liked the setting of the hotel and the addition of the charismatic hotel staff. 

Furthermore, as long as the quality keeps up through book 5, I think this book may have solidified this series as my favorite regency era series by a modern author.  The reason is The Hathaways – I adore them and really enjoy seeing all of them in each of the books.  Beatrix and her critters, her folksy wisdom, her disregard for social convention; Leo’s droll wit; Cam’s easygoing and protective leadership; Amelia as mother hen.  They are a blast to hang out with and I hope the spark doesn’t ebb before the end as it has in other promising series (..ahem.. Julia Quinn’s Bridgertons).  Long live the Hathaways!

A number of people favor Richard Armitage as the model for Harry – what do you think?What's your favorite "type" of hero in a romance novel?

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