Tempt Me At Twilight, by Lisa Kleypas

>> Thursday, October 29, 2009

TITLE: Tempt Me At Twilight
AUTHOR: Lisa Kleypas

PAGES: 384
PUBLISHER: St. Martin's

SETTING: Victorian England
TYPE: Straight romance
SERIES: 3rd in the Hathaways series, comes after Mine Till Midnight and Seduce Me At Sunrise

REASON FOR READING: I've no idea why, but I haven't read a Kleypas since The Devil in Winter, over 3 years ago. The comments about this one intrigued me enough to come back.

He was everything she'd sworn to avoid.

Poppy Hathaway loves her unconventional family, though she longs for normalcy. Then fate leads to a meeting with Harry Rutledge, an enigmatic hotel owner and inventor with wealth, power, and a dangerous hidden life. When their flirtation compromises her own reputation, Poppy shocks everyone by accepting his proposal-only to find that her new husband offers his passion, but not his trust.

And she was everything he needed…

Harry was willing to do anything to win Poppy-except to open his heart. All his life, he has held the world at arm's length…but the sharp, beguiling Poppy demands to be his wife in every way that matters. Still, as desire grows between them, an enemy lurks in the shadows. Now if Harry wants to keep Poppy by his side, he must forge a true union of body and soul, once and for all...
It all begins with a kleptomaniac ferret. Said ferret belongs to Poppy Hathaway's sister, and has stolen a love letter from her soon-to-be (as soon as he works up the courage to talk to his very disapproving father) fiance Michael. Chasing the ferret through corridors and secret passages of the Rutledge Hotel, where her family always stays while in London, Poppy bumps into Harry Rutledge himself, the mysterious, filthy rich and powerful owner.

The meeting (especially the kiss that ensues) makes quite an impression on Poppy, but an even bigger one on Harry, who decides he has to have her. And being ruthless, as well as mysterious, filthy rich and powerful, Harry engineers a separation between Poppy and Michael, and then promptly (and not-quite-on-purpose, but almost) compromises her.

Poppy is heartbroken when her engagement to Michael comes to nothing, but she quite likes Harry, and is prepared to make her marriage to him work. Until, that is, she finds out what his role was in the collapse of her love affair.

Why, oh, why have I stayed away from Kleypas for so long? This was good, a lovely, satisfying romance, slightly reminiscent of everyone's favourite Kleypas, Dreaming of You (although I liked Poppy a lot more than Sara and even (*gasp*) Harry more than Derek).

I think what I loved the most was how Harry was so bowled over by his feelings for Poppy that he would do what he did to have her. Having had to be ruthless to be successful in life, the only way he knew to do so was to be ruthless in this, too. I understand why Poppy would have been upset and even why other readers wouldn't like him for it, but I loved it, in a guilty pleasure kind of way. There's a particular bit of dialogue that expresses what I liked perfectly:

"Would you say that you're a good man, Harry?"

He had to think about that. "No," he finally said. "In the fairy tale you mentioned last night, I would probably be the villain. But it's possible the villain would treat you far better than the prince would have."
This imagery of the princess and the villain in the fairy tale came up quite a few times throughout the book, and I found it very effective.

I didn't find their HEA at all doubtful, even knowing that it will still take Harry a few years before his first impulse (and I suppose even his second and third) is to manipulate people ruthlessly whenever he wants something. I actually found this facet of his personality rather endearing, as Poppy seems to.

The Hathaway family features very prominently in the story, both the protagonists of the first two books in the series and the two characters who will star in the next. But even though they're given quite a lot of space, and this is something that tends to annoy me (I'll often wish the author would just concentrate on the story she's telling rather than try to sell the ones she's written / is planning to write), I was fine with it here, possibly because her sisters and her brother are such a big part of Poppy's life that it was only right that they would be a big part of her book. In fact, it actually made me want to read the books in question.



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