Next up in Lisa Kleypas' Hathaway Family series is Tempt Me at Twilight. While there were a couple of problems in the plotting for me, the Hathaways continue to delight, making for an overall enjoyable read.
The Hathaway du jour is Poppy who is in the midst of her third Season. While she loves her family dearly, the Hathaways' reputation for oddness has hurt her marital prospects, but now, at long last, she has found love with Michael Bayning, the son of a viscount. We first meet her while in pursuit of her sister's pet ferret which is carrying a love letter from Michael through the halls of the Rutledge Hotel where they are staying for the Season. Her chase leads her to an interesting encounter with the mysterious owner of the hotel, Harry Rutledge, who winds up keeping the letter, but stealing a kiss. It isn't long before another close encounter has them found in a compromising situation and quickly wed. But Poppy is in love with Michael and Harry is a ruthless, manipulative man who disdains love - however will this all work out?!
I really enjoyed Poppy with her straight-arrow personality and her longing for normalcy. But, life with the Hathaways is nothing like "normal" and her new husband has had a far from normal life himself. Poppy was vulnerable to Harry's advances only after her heart was broken by Michael, a very "normal" man tied to convention and his father's good opinion, whose opinion is that the Hathaways are too odd for his son to marry. I believe Michael loved Poppy, but hadn't the courage to stand up to his father and demand what he wanted: Poppy. Harry, on the other hand, is all about getting what he wants. He wants Poppy and is not above manipulating events to secure her. It's not a great way to start a marriage.
Harry is an American by birth but came to England after a break with his abusive father. He has built an empire by being ruthless and unsentimental in his dealings with everyone from employees to lovers. But Poppy's forthrightness, her intelligence and capacity for caring draw him like nothing else has, and he will do anything to have her.
It is Harry's obsession with Poppy that gave me my only real problem with the book. Harry knows Poppy's name and is already infatuated with her when we see them meet. How did this happen? When and why? It is never explained and so we are not allowed to see how Harry's ruthless determination to have Poppy began. I kept thinking that something would be revealed later on to explain this, but it never was. What we do get to see is Harry's lone wolf persona gradually transformed into an adoring - and adorable - puppy dog who desperately wants his belly to be rubbed.
I love all the Hathaways and their interactions are funny and sweet. There are several scenes between Leo, elder brother, and the girls' companion, Miss Marks, whose story is next in line. But, until then, I think I'll reread a couple of scenes between Harry and Poppy. Maybe rub a belly…
Reviewed by Cheryl Sneed, September 29, 2009