Monday, 22 April 2013
#CBR5 Book 41. "Tempt Me at Twilight" by Lisa Kleypas
Rating: 4.5 stars
Poppy Hathaway is the second youngest of the Hathaway siblings, and frequently wishes that her family weren't quite so unconventional and colourful. When her sister's pet ferret runs off with one of her love letters, while her family are staying at the fashionable Rutledge hotel, she is desperate to retrieve it, so the truth of her secret courtship with the promising young isn't revealed. She runs into Harry Rutledge, the enigmatic, powerful and reclusive owner of the hotel, who seems amuse and intrigued by her predicament.
While Harry may be a highly eligible bachelor, he hasn't seriously considered marriage until he meets Poppy. It doesn't take many meetings before he decides that he wants to have her, though, and he will use any trick necessary to win her, even if it means fighting very dirty indeed. Soon Poppy finds herself jilted by her gentle suitor, whose father has found out about their hopes, and not long after finds herself very publicly compromised by Harry Rutledge, who of course promises to marry her (despite assurances from her family that they'll weather the scandal and she needn't marry anyone at all), and give her everything she could have hoped or dreamed of. Except closeness and affection, as these are things Harry himself have never experienced either.
Tempt Me at Twilight is by far my favourite of the five books in this series. Harry is a wonderful anti-hero, almost, but not quite rivalling Kleypas' most wonderful villainous hero, Sebastian St. Vincent in Devil in Winter. Harry is ruthless, manipulative and brilliant, not caring one bit if he has to break Poppy's heart in order to win her hand. Successful at pretty much everything he turns his hand to, with a small army of extremely loyal staff, he get what he wants, through any means necessary. Poppy discovers the full extent to his perfidy shortly before she is about to walk down the aisle, but chooses to marry him anyway. Of course, she swears she'll never love him, but we all know how likely that is, right?
Of course, Harry is such a cold-hearted villain because his mother left him when he was four, and his father treated him like dirt. Having devoted himself completely to his work since he was old enough to strike out for himself, Harry is completely unprepared for what it's like to share his personal space with a wife, especially one who's used to a close, supportive and loving family. She completely refuses to listen to him when he forbids her to befriend the hotel staff and treat them more like friends than employees.
The main plot is obviously concerned with how Harry and Poppy find a way to make their marriage work, and a very enjoyable read, it is, but there is also a sub-plot involving the younger Hathaway sisters' governess, the mysterious Miss Marks, who has some sort of connection to Harry Rutledge (she's extremely against the match, and determined that Poppy not marry him). The antagonistic relationship between Leo Hathaway and Miss Marks seem to be escalating as the book goes on, and the epilogue makes it clear that they are the couple to find love in the next book. The only reason I'm not giving this book five stars is because Kleypas insists on inserting a really unnecessary kidnapping plot towards the end of the book, where Poppy has to work with her brother and the various hotel employees to rescue her husband from a nefarious scheme. While it was nice that the heroine gets to be the rescuer, for a change, the episode brings nothing further to the story, and I think the book would have been better off without it.