Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas (Hathaway Series #5)
Beatrix, the last remaining unmarried Hathaway sister, is a heroine I surprising loved most out of the family. This fifth book is the last of the Hathaway Series and by then you have become acquainted with the charming, intelligent and unique Hathaways. I must admit I didn't read the other books prior to this and if you read them, Beatrix wouldn't really catch your fancy because you will probably be bothered by her 'little problem'.
But Beatrix is a captivating heroine; full of spirit and compassion, with an independent mind heading for spinsterhood, a bit peculiar, and has a menagerie of wounded animals running around the mansion. It is perhaps the embodiment of Beatrix's character that drew her to me. She's not a stereotypical odd girl (for even unconventional book heroines have that sort of sameness in them) and her own eccentricities become her dynamic charm.
Phelan is a bit mean at first before he was sent to war. He is your typical egotistical, handsome, Greek-god-like-features jerk, so to speak. But he comes back a tortured hero and a changed man. From here on, he's bent to claim the woman he loves.
The beginning of the book is a wonderful reading as relayed by a series of letters. Who wouldn't be taken by love letters, more especially wartime love letters? It is Beatrix's compassionate nature that drove her to write to Captain Phelan in lieu of her friend Pru, who's got 'a depth of a puddle' and considers Phelan only as one of her suitors. I think the letter writing is the most poignant part of the story, how it conveyed a lot of emotions that I cannot help but feel moved. When Captain Phelan drew Albert (a loyal battle companion terrier) on his letters, I was all a flutter and Albert definitely almost stole the show for me. That dog has an intuition much better than his master's.
As the chapters arc into their impending meeting in person, my breath is caught but things spiral down into a bumpy ride because from here it's off to a bad start complete with sparks flying. As Captain Phelan is introduced to the odd Hathaways of Ramsey House, things perk up into comedy. (Put the Hathaways in and it'll surely be a mad house). Of course, the appearance of the beloved Hathaway sisters and brother, along with their love partners, (Amelia and Cam, Leo and Catherine for the most part) add that family flavor of wit, chaos and hilarity. Leo is such a wicked witty brother I believe he could steal everyone's thunder whenever he opens his mouth.
Kleypas writes with wit and candor, disarming readers of doubts of a boring premise. Even the secondary characters are engaging apart from the few dull ones who's role is just that, to be an eye-sore. There are twists that were a bit sketchy for me as if unnatural, a bit rough around the edges, but nevertheless the book can stand alone despite it being part of the series. Beatrix left that much impression on me I even have a song playlist just for her.
Beatrix. 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?
Phelan. 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. (see book)
Book Title: Love in the Afternoon
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Genre: Historical, Romance, Series
Published: June 29, 2010
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Rating: ♨♨♨♨♨ (5 cups - For Beatrix alone, it is a good solid book to end the series. Although the last half of the book felt a bit more patchy compared to the first half, as if Kleypas merely rushed through it, still the characters will win your hearts.)