Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Review: Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas

She harbors a secret yearning.

As a lover of animals and nature, Beatrix Hathaway has always been more comfortable outdoors than in the ballroom. Even though she participated in the London season in the past, the classic beauty and free-spirited Beatrix has never been swept away or seriously courted…and she has resigned herself to the fate of never finding love. Has the time come for the most unconventional of the Hathaway sisters to settle for an ordinary man — just to avoid spinsterhood?

He is a world-weary cynic.

Captain Christopher Phelan is a handsome, daring soldier who plans to marry Beatrix’s friend, the vivacious flirt Prudence Mercer, when he returns from fighting abroad. But, as he explains in his letters to Pru, life on the battlefield has darkened his soul — and it’s becoming clear that Christopher won’t come back as the same man. When Beatrix learns of Pru’s disappointment, she decides to help by concocting Pru’s letters to Christopher for her. Soon the correspondence between Beatrix and Christopher develops into something fulfilling and deep…and when Christopher comes home, he’s determined to claim the woman he loves. What began as Beatrix’s innocent deception has resulted in the agony of unfulfilled love — and a passion that can’t be denied…

The final book featuring the Hathaways, and I'm going to miss them so much.  We've seen Beatrix grow and mature throughout the course of the series, yet she's never lost her naivete or innocence.  As she's grown and watched her sisters (and brother) marry, I wondered if Beatrix would ever find someone to love her for herself, as she was, without trying to change her into what Society deems a proper young woman should be.  I'm so glad she found a tolerant and loving man in Christopher.

Christopher, however, is not without his issues, specifically post-traumatic stress disorder.  The war changed him and while he is a highly decorated soldier, he would love nothing more than to blend in with the woodwork.  Luckily, Beatrix can spot a soul in trouble -- whether human or animal -- and is able to help.

The one aspect I didn't like was the use of 'deception' to describe Beatrix's letters.  Yes, she did sign Prudence's name, per Prudence's request, but I never felt it was Bea's intention to deceive.  She was moved by Christopher's original letter (while Prudence was not), so she resolved to write back to him.  And Beatrix, for all her good intentions, fell in love with Christopher via his letters, then decided to put a stop to the correspondence.  Maybe deceit is too harsh a word, though I cannot think of another to replace it.

Still, I've enjoyed the Hathaways and will certainly miss them.  An excellent series by an amazing historical romance author.

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