Tag Archives: Hathaways

Lisa Kleypas’s Catalogue

Themes: Make your own life and your own luck. Hard work is rewarded. To find a true partner, you will need to leave your comfort zone. Also, find an incredibly hot  man who adores you.

HISTORICAL ROMANCES

Standalone Novels/Early Series:
Surrender – don’t, dated
Stranger in My Arms – don’t
Suddenly You – pretty good, reasonably racy
Somewhere I’ll Find You – don’t
Because You’re Mine – don’t
I Will – nope
Where Dreams Beginpersonal favourite
Again the Magic main plot has sturm and drang, secondary plot is great and has a marvelous hero

Gamblers Series:
Then Came You  – good, a lot of readers really like it
Dreaming of You CLASSIC, one of romance’s ultimate heroes
Where’s My Hero – novella follow up to Dreaming of You – for completists

Bow Street Runners Series:
Someone to Watch Over Me – a bit dated, one great moment
Lady Sophia’s Lover  – SMOKING hot hero, pretty good overall, dated
Worth Any Price – don’t, unless you want a lot of sex and no emotion, then do

The Wallflowers Series:
Secrets of a Summer Nightpersonal favourite, delicious hero
It Happened One Autumn – good not great, pompous hero, the heroine is a bit of a pill
The Devil in WinterCLASSIC with the ultimate Rake/Wallflower combination
Scandal in the Spring – sweet ending to the series
A Wallflower Christmas – for completists only

The Hathaways Series:
Mine till Midnight
great, has my all time favourite heroine
Seduce Me at Sunrise – too much agita for me
Tempt Me at Twilight personal favourite
Married by Morning a near miss, but still good
Love in the Afternoon excellent, sweet and grows on me with each re-read

The Ravenels:
Cold-Hearted Rake – lays groundwork for the new series, could be stronger
Marrying Winterbourne – middling, hero manhandles the heroine
Devil in Spring – best of the series, but not up to Kleypas’s standard

CONTEMPORARY ROMANCES

The Travis Series:
Sugar Daddydidn’t really like the hero
Blue-Eyed Devilgood, not great
Smooth Talking StrangerGreat, but can a hero be too perfect?
Brown Eyed Girl – Based on reviews, I didn’t bother.

Crystal Cove Series: Not my cup of tea, did not read.

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The Hathaways: Mine till Midnight, Seduce Me at Sunrise, Tempt Me at Twilight, Married by Morning & Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas

For every new historical romance author discovery, such as Juliana Gray, there is a little pile of disappointment at my bedside. So while waiting for the new Julie Anne Long, I have re-read the Hathaway series by Lisa Kleypas. If Courtney Milan is the reigning romance queen, she inherited the crown from Kleypas when she abdicated the historical genre.

The five Hathaway siblings, Leo, Amelia, Win, Poppy, and Beatrix, were raised in an eccentric academic family, happy in their seclusion when a series of events changed their lives: their father died, their mother followed him, Leo’s beloved fiancée succumbed to scarlet fever, Leo and Win almost did as well, and then Leo inherited a peerage forcing a change in circumstances and location. They are still recovering from these events when the first book opens. Mine till Midnight does the heavy lifting setting up the Hathaway series and the subsequent novels allow for frequent visits with the siblings. Kleypas also brings in most of the couples from the Wallflowers series for visits although, sadly, not nearly enough Simon and Annabelle Hunt, and, apparently, Sebastian and Evie St. Vincent are incapable to speaking to each other. Anywho, I enjoy character reincorporation beyond the canny marketing it represents. Kleypas is very good at giving the cameos just enough detail to get a sense of where the couples are now.

Mine till Midnight  –  Amelia Hathaway and Cam Rohan – Very good.

Of all the romances I have read, and there have been a lot, Mine till Midnight is one of the very few which had a moment so sincerely romantic that I had to pause, fan my face, and collect myself. I just love the heroine. Amelia Hathaway is one of my all-time favourites. Sensible and stalwart, she has been holding the pieces of her family together by strength of will alone. When a charming and unusual man enters her life, giving her support and a much needed chance to unclench, if only in private, Amelia is swept off her feet before she really knows what has happened.

Mine till Midnight is a strong starting point for the series. Somewhat unfortunately, in addition to a suddenly surprisingly Machiavellian villain, it also has what seems to me an absolutely pointless ghost story subplot that crescendos towards the end. Moreover, the hero, Cam Rohan, is of Romany (gypsy) descent, as is the hero of the next book, Seduce Me at Sunrise. While I appreciated the effort to bring a person of colour (for the times) into a historical romance, I grew quickly tired of what I think of as “the Romany bullshit”: fetishized exoticism, plus “gypsy” medical knowledge that was implausible for someone who has been isolated from his own culture since he was 10 years old.

Seduce Me at Sunrise  – Win Hathaway and Merripen – Weakest of the series.

Seduce Me at Sunrise is a lot like Wuthering Heights, but with a happy ending, make of that what you will. Another Romany hero, Merripen is an intense, brooding hulk who has lived with the Hathaways for  many years. The love of his life, Win Hathaway, has been an invalid since her bout of scarlet fever. Sent to France to recover, she comes back in full health to make good on the promise of their years of mutual longing. Merripen fights valiantly and seemingly endlessly against his attraction to her. His objections to the match are twofold: first, he feels himself unworthy of Win as the result of childhood trauma; second, he is convinced that her health is too fragile for a marital relationship. Win disagrees with him on both counts and tries to convince him before surrendering to his intractability. Merripen is guilty of some major comeheregoaway. He is also almost completely humourless, and while Kleypas plays this well, there was too much sturm and drang for me.

Tempt Me at Twilight – Poppy Hathaway and Harry Rutledge – Great. Rawr.

Despite having already reviewed this book, I love the characters so much that I’m doing so here again. Tempt Me at Twilight is my favourite Hathaway novel regardless of some plotting that verges on twee. The hero, Harry Rutledge, is a spectacular creation. He’s one of those men who in real life would be very difficult and less than ideal, but in the context of a romance novel is extraordinarily appealing. An autocratic, control freak, rake, he voluntarily gives up that last bit, but it is up to Poppy Hathaway to dismantle the rest. He is a typically sardonic, self-made Kleypas hero (I love them so) with a sad backstory and unrelenting ambition.

Poppy Hathaway is the least eccentric of the Hathaways and she longs for a simple, quiet life. The family beauty, she lacks the appropriate social skills to function well within the restrictions of Society. Her governess/social guide, Catherine Marks, has helped, but Poppy has a habit of talking too much when she is nervous and displaying “unbecoming” intellect and a broad range of interests. Harry takes one look, one listen really, and decides that it is time to marry; unfortunately, Poppy already has a suitor and Harry is not above manipulating the situation to get him out of the way. This bites Harry rather ferociously in the ass; nonetheless, he and Poppy are mutually fascinated, so Harry learns to have and show emotions.

Married by Morning – Leo Hathaway and Catherine Marks – Good, not great.

There’s a lot of Harry and Poppy in Married by Morning which is an excellent start. The pairing of the leads, Leo and Cat, is one that had been teased in the previous books and the book didn’t quite manage to live up to the hype. Please keep in mind that with Kleypas that still means that Married by Morning is better than 90% of the genre. Leo is charming and Cat delightfully prickly, but there was an element that was unusual for Kleypas, but explaining will involve spoilers. Highlight the text below for details:

Sex in romance is a representation of the bond between the characters, or the potential for one should they put consummation before their emotions. Kleypas writes fantastic love scenes and her smolder is impeccable. I never thought I would say this about her, but Married by Morning gets the sex wrong.  Cat spent part of her life being trained as a courtesan, but escaped before she could be pressed into participation. Romantically inexperienced, she has been taught that her character is innately suited to the oldest profession. When Leo and Cat’s relationship becomes physical, it moves too fast. It took the standard romance trope of getting over one’s shyness swiftly and puts it on a fast track. A heroine can be willing and shy simultaneously. As Cat is particularly vulnerable in this area, there was too much too soon.

Love in the Afternoon – Beatrix Hathaway and Christopher Phelan – Very good/great.

This is a sweet and lovely story featuring one of romance’s legion of heroes suffering from PTSD. What better match for him than an eccentric young woman who has a way with wounded creatures?  Christopher and Beatrix began an epistolary romance while he was fighting in the Crimea. They fall in love, which is nice for everyone involved, except that Christopher thinks the author of his letters is a different woman. When Christopher comes home, he is confused and frustrated to find that his supposed pen pal is inane and that he is drawn to the peculiar Beatrix. While keeping the trademark Kleypas smolder, Love in the Afternoon is a story of two broken people who fit together and find a way forward. It has improved in my estimation on every re-read. The story is true to one of the most important elements for genuine romance: The main characters find each other and become more together and individually than they would have been apart.

All five Hathaway books have last-minute agita that delays the happy ending, but since they are by Lisa Kleypas, they still have tremendous entertainment value, no matter what plot elements might be rickety. More importantly, she is a master craftsman and writes, hands down, the most consistently attractive men in romance. I haven’t read her current Rainshadow Road series, but I have read just about everything else she has published. A complete summary of Lisa Kleypas’s catalogue, with recommendations, can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

Tempt Me at Twilight by Lisa Kleypas

The Dowager Julien likes to read Georgette Heyer books upon occasion, and I recently pointed out to her that doing so did not mean she lost all intellectual credibility: Just because you enjoy kissing books does not mean that you forget what The Anschluss was, or have to go back to the remedial class; however, IF IT DID, I am now so knee deep in historical romance novels that my university degree would be revoked. “My name’s Prolixity and I used to want to write a Master’s thesis on e.e. cummings and the Metaphysical poets, but now I read books with characters named Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent”.

I listed the books I’ve read so far before, but I forgot a couple. There have been rather a lot.

Come Love a Stranger – Kathleen Woodiwiss – Reformed Rake: VERY attractive reformed rake, a lot of pages of subterfuge and silliness to skip over.
The Duchess – Jude Deveraux – I skimmed this one. Deveraux is a Deverdon’t.

Really? Are you still reading after that terrible joke? I am unworthy of such beneficence.

Since last week, I have read:

The Devil in Winter – Lisa Kleypas – Reformed Rake, Self-Sacrificing Lamb – I read it Friday night. My first Kleypas, but not my last, not even my last this past weekend.
The Viscount Who Loved Me – Julia Quinn – Reformed Rake AND Bridgerton Brother #1 (Anthony) – I read it yesterday. The Bridgerton books make me giggle and smirk. A lot. Occasionally, I hoot. I am expecting to receive The Duke and I by Julia Quinn in the mail today – Reformed Rake and Bridgerton Sister #1/sibling #4 (Daphne).

I went to K-Mart and purchased Lisa Kleypas’ Tempt Me at Twilight on Saturday morning. I went specifically to buy this book. I had seen it a couple of days before, but did not like the random passage I read. Later, I was reading different random passages on Amazon and came across a paragraph so appealing that I wanted the whole book. Now, go back and look at that title. Just look at it. Could it be any cheesier? Let me answer that for you: No, it could not. Mercifully, the book does not also have a salacious cover, but it does have a ridiculous frontispiece involving soap opera people posing in pseudo-19th century dishabille and, as is always the case in these books, bearing absolutely no physical resemblance to the characters. I ripped that sucker out of the book as fast as possible. The title is embarrassing enough; I don’t need to give Mr. Julien any more ammunition than necessary.

Tempt Me at Twilight is the story of Harry Rutledge and Poppy Hathaway. She is the rich daughter of an eccentric family, but, then, aren’t we all? Poppy has been “out” in society for three years and has not found a husband despite being beautiful and well-educated. Her problem, it seems, is an unconventional family, and her inability to dissemble about her education and intelligence. I like this Lisa Kleypas person already. Harry is the American owner of a London hotel that hosts families of the ton during the London season as they look for a mate they, hopefully, feel a sincere tendre for. If you have read any Regency romance novels, all of those words will make sense to you. Furthering my appreciation for Ms. Kleypas, Harry is tall, dark, handsome, and slightly forbidding. All excellent qualities. When the men are fair-haired, I stick my fingers in my eyes and sing “la, la, la I can’t hear you”, and then I scream and hit myself in castigation… Harry is also brilliant and a self-made man which adds a nice touch. Poppy and Harry meet cute and he sees in her everything good and wonderful in the world, so he ruins her reputation (in a chaste 19th century way) to make sure they end up married, but not really together, after which highly-predictable hijinks ensue. Being a Reformed Rake and having the usual “loveless child” back story, it takes him a while, practically the whole book, amazingly enough, to be able to voice his love for her, although he is clearly besotted which he shows in nice (gentleness, love, patience) and not so nice (jealousy, being overbearing) ways. I do so adore smoldering, besotted rakes. As is often the case, and not my taste, there was some silly sub-plotting, but I guess some people enjoy a bit of intrigue in their romance novels. I’m basically ONLY about the man/woman stuff, so if they’re not interacting, I’m not interested. That’s what skipping pages is for. I do that with whatever romance novel I’m reading.

Lisa Kleypas’ writing is very good for the genre. She doesn’t have the wit of Julia Quinn, but that is not a bad thing, only different. Kleypas is a bit racier, so it’s really just a question of what you are looking for. I cared about the characters, I loved Poppy, and wanted a Harry Rutledge of my own, and I think that is all that matters. Sometimes you want to giggle and beam (Quinn), and sometimes you want a charming, misguided, besotted rake, in which case Kleypas is a good choice.

Addenda:

Prolixity really is an apt pseudonym, isn’t it? I spend almost as long writing these reviews as I do reading the books.

These women spend a lot of time with their hair down. It’s not the historical inaccuracy I object to. It’s the fact that their hair is very long and it never gets caught under anyone or in the way. My hair goes about a 1/4 to a 1/3 of the way down my back and it’s forever getting caught under things, usually other parts of me.

One of the leads, usually the man, always has a Sardonic Eyebrow of Seduction which they lift as a wry gesture. I would love to be able to do that! Wry is one of my favourite things in the whole wide world. It’s why William Powell is my secret husband. The Dowager Julien has a Baleful Eyebrow of Doom that was deployed almost exclusively as a threat when we were young. Sadly, I did not inherit her skill.

Thank you to everyone who made recommendations. Loretta Chase is next in line.

A complete summary of Lisa Kleypas’s catalogue, with recommendations, can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.