The review might be a bit less detailed and coherent than usually. That's entirely my fault, sorry ^_^; I wanted it to finish it before Ames flies off to California, so I might have rushed the process a bit... Hope everyone enjoys it nonetheless! :P
*Warning: The are spoilers in this review. Read at your own risk!*
Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas
published by St. Martin's Press in June 2010
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?
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.
Genre: Historical romance
Series: The Hathaways, Book #5
The Story: I thought the blurb was a bit misleading as in, Beatrix did not set out to take up Pru's correspondence with Christopher Phelan. Instead, it all starts when Pru shares the content of Christopher's letter with her friends. Normally, Beatrix wouldn't be interested, especially since Christopher has not hidden the fact that he finds Bea odd with his friends, until she hears the mention of Albert, a dog that Christopher has rescued but who's misbehaving. Concerned for the dog, Beatrix has some advices for Christopher, but Pru is no longer interested in continuing a correspondence with Christopher since his letters are so unromantic and his uniform, hideous. However, Pru does give permission to Bea to write under her name if that pleases her... and so Bea does. One thing leads to another and Bea finds herself writing and sharing more than one letter.
The correspondence allows Bea to get to know Christopher better. Friendship soon turns into deeper feelings and when Beatrix realizes that she's fallen in love with Christopher, she ceases the correspondence. Once back from the war, Christopher is determined to reach out to Pru, but soon realize that something is off...
Nath: So Ames, I know you've been looking forward to Beatrix' book for a long time and your anticipation was contagious! Because of it, I did something that I rarely do: I read Ms Kleypas online excerpt and I was hooked. I couldn't wait to get my hands on Love in the Afternoon... and so ended up with two copies! LOL. However, it was definitively worth it as I really enjoyed Love in the Afternoon. It was just so much fun :)
I really liked Beatrix and how unconventional she was and I thought Christopher was a great hero as well. What really made this book for me is that Ms Kleypas didn't fall in the predictability or stereotyping. I liked that Christopher was smart enough to figure out that Prudence wasn't the one who wrote the letters and I liked that he wasn't angry at Beatrix. Okay, yes, he was a bit angry, but he didn't turn into a pighead because of it. Instead, he grabbed onto Bea refusing to let her go :P
Ames: I know!! I love that about Christopher too. I like how he came around in his thinking towards Bea. Like before he knew she wrote the letters, he was already thinking about her differently. Definitely liked that!
Ok - so the whole series Beatrix has been my favorite sister because she is the animal lover. And I love how the war and the post traumatic stress made Christopher very similar to a wounded animal which is the perfect kind of hero for Beatrix. These two characters were just perfect for each other!
Nath: What you say about Christopher is right, he was like a wounded animal. However, Ms Kleypas wrote it in a subtle manner and Christopher PTSD wasn't the focal point of the story. Also, there was the fact that Bea was already in love with him when he came back from war.
You're right though. It was nice that Christopher's opinion of Beatrix did not change because he found out she was the one who wrote the letters, but came from their interaction. I think it's because of the war and his brother's death. These events have changed him as a man and how he views certain things. He definitively had no time for frivolity when he came back.
What else did you enjoy?
Ames: Christopher's dog, Albert! I loved him!!
Nath: LOL, it was so funny that there was an actual drawing of the dog in the book! But yes, Albert was very cute :)
Ames: Everything with Albert was super cute. And you know, sometimes authors get dog behaviors wrong or they make them totally unrealistic but LK definitely got Albert down right. And I like how he attached himself to Beatrix and Christopher just knew where Albert was when he got home. Hahaha.
Nath: LOL, it proves how smart Albert was :P
Another great element in Love in the Afternoon was the Hathaways family interactions. I really enjoyed those and I think the family was more present in this book - as a group, than in any of the first 4 books. They're really an interesting lot and we got to see more of their dynamics. I thought the scene where Christopher goes to the Hathaways to discuss marriage was really good.
Ames: Oh that scene when Christopher joins them for supper and Beatrix tells everyone he doesn't want to talk so they all just talk around him? I love that scene. The humor in this book was good too - Beatrix was just so perfect.
Nath: LOL, perfect in an unconventional way :P While most people thought Beatrix unconventional, she's probably the most clever though. She's a good judge of character and she knows how to manage people... like Christopher's grandfather.
Ames: She is the most clever and practical heroine. Her only unpractical thing she did was pretend to be Pru in those letters but it had a happy ending - but in every other way, she was practical and I loved her for it. :P
Nath: Nod nod.
This book was great fun, but I thought there were a few unnecessary things, such as the mother issue. It was sad for Christopher that his mother was clearly not able to love him. However, there was nothing really done about it. I was actually surprised that she didn't oppose to Christopher and Bea's marriage, but I guess she didn't really care ^_^; Lucky for Bea, she won't have to deal with her.
Still, Christopher had a great brother. The letter at the end from John was very touching.
Ames: Yes, it was! And I'm glad we didn't have to deal with Christopher's mother that much. Whew. Sometimes family can get messy and the Hathaways are more than enough, thank you very much. haha
Nath: LOL, true.
My other quibble with this book would be the ending. I'm assuming that Love in the Afternoon is the last book in the Hathaways series and as such, I'd have liked a little more wrap-up. Otherwise though, I pretty much think this book was perfect :)
Ames: I have to agree about a bit of a wrap-up, that didn't feel like the last book, you know? But yes, this book was almost perfect.:P I can't get over it. LOL Halfway through I was thinking - this is going to be a top reads for 2010. Definitely re-read material!
Nath: Definitively a contender for 2010 and definitively re-read material. It's the kind of book that just cheers you up and put a smile on your face :P Love in the Afternoon is a A- for me. Not perfect, but sure close to it! :P
Ames: It's an A- for me too! LOL It feels like it's been a while since we've agreed on a book.
Nath: : True. I'm glad that when we finally do, it's on such a good book :)