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Sunday, October 25, 2009

'Tempt me at Twilight' by Lisa KLEYPAS

From the BLURB:

Poppy Hathaway, who has always longed for a normal, ordinary life, has been abandoned by her true love, Michael Bayning. Caught up in scandal, she has only one way out - to marry Harry Rutledge, a handsome and mysterious hotel owner. But Harry is a man of many secrets, and eventually Poppy faces a heart-wrenching question: What does a heroine do when she ends up married to the villain?

The 3rd book in Kleypas’s ‘Hathaways’ series follows the tale of middle-sister, Poppy. This is a very different book from Amelia and Win’s. The eldest and second-eldest Hathaway sisters married for love – Amelia to the Gypsy millionaire Cam Rohan, and the previously bed-ridden Win to the families foster brother, Merripen. Poppy has a very different marriage from her sister’s – one based on lies and one man’s selfishness. Not exactly a fairy-tale beginning.

Harry Rutledge has been a background character in several of Kleypas’s books – his Rutledge hotel being the setting and accommodation of choice for several of her previous books. Simon Hunt and wife Annabelle Peyton reside at the Rutledge in the first ‘Wallflowers’ book. The entire Hathaway clan has been frequenting the hotel for three London seasons. In ‘Tempt me at Twilight’ we finally meet the reclusive Hotelier.

Harry Rutledge makes no illusions about being anything other than the villain in this story. Upon their first chance meeting, Harry decides he’ll have Poppy for himself;

Harry felt he deserved Poppy. Any man who allowed scruples to get in the way of having a woman like her was a fool.

Harry devises a devilish plan to win Poppy for himself – forcing her into a compromising social situation that leaves her little room to maneuver. Though his intentions are deplorable, Harry’s craving for Poppy is intense and oddly flattering. Kleypas offers us little insight into Harry’s reasons behind his pursuit, which makes his actions all the more disturbing.

Kleypas is in her element when she writes rakish characters; they always end up being her most memorable and titillating. Sebastian St. Vincent is the most interesting bachelor in her ‘Wallflowers’ series, Hardy Cates the most alluring in the ‘Travis’ Trilogy and sure enough, Harry Rutledge for all his high-handedness is a fascinating new addition to the Hathaway clan. Kleypas does best with rakes because she understands that everyone has light and dark within, nobody is ever rarely entirely evil, and there are always explanations for such behavior.

I was a little sorry that Harry wasn’t more of a rake though. In the beginning his character is utterly sinister, but upon marrying Poppy he mellows a little too quickly for my liking. Considering his back-story I think Harry’s actions could have been plausibly more wicked and conniving. Granted, going into a Kleypas book you know what to expect, there’s not a whole lot of edge-of-your-seat suspense when you know from page one that you’re reading toward a happy ending. That being said, in quite a few Kleypas books I’ve had moments of ‘will-they-or-won’t-they?’ tension (‘Sugar Daddy’, for one). ‘Tempt me at Twilight’ has more of a challenge than most romances, because the couple is married fairly quickly and the story centers around whether or not they’ll find love in holy matrimony or total regret? I just think the happy-ending pay-off could have been heightened if Harry hadn’t succumbed to Poppy’s kindness quite so quickly, if he’d kept up his deplorable behavior for a little longer.

At times ‘Tempt me at Twilight’ reminded me of ‘Beauty & the Beast’. The hotel’s staff, including a genius French chef, busy-boding housemaid and assistant manager, all try their hand at matchmaking the newlyweds. Those scenes are sweet, if a little cheesy.

One of my favorite things about ‘Tempt me at Twilight’ was the groundwork Kleypas lays out for book 4. Harry has an interesting back-story, that’s made all the more intriguing for his connection to another character in the Hathaway family – the tutor, Miss Catherine Marks. I can’t give anything away, but Harry’s connection to Miss. Marks is extremely interesting. Even more interesting is Miss. Marks’ interactions with Hathaway brother, Leo. In previous books there have been opposites-attract sparks between the two, but in ‘Tempt’ those sparks are fast becoming a bonfire. Kleypas throws oil on the flames by finishing ‘Tempt me at Twilight’ on a romantic cliffhanger between the two.

I did like this book, then again I would happily read Lisa Kleypas’s shopping list. But this isn’t my favorite Kleypas book; the romance comes a little too easily and the male protagonist loses an otherwise intriguing edge too willingly.

2/5

2 comments:

  1. Hmmm...This book is in my TBR pile but not near the top, I'll probably leave it where it is until I'm needing a historical.

    BTW - I took your advice and bought two of her contemporaries. I'm looking forward to reading them!

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  2. I love the Hathaways but the reviews for this one just aren't driving me to read it. I have read a lot of people not happy with Harry. But now I must know this connection with Ms. Marks!! I need to get to this one soon!

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