Thursday, November 5, 2009
When an unexpected inheritance elevates her family to the ranks of the aristocracy, Amelia Hathaway discovers that tending to her younger sisters and wayward brother was easy compared to navigating the intricacies of the ton. Even more challenging: the attraction she feels for the tall, dark, and dangerously handsome Cam Rohan. Wealthy beyond most men's dreams, Cam has tired of society's petty restrictions and longs to return to his "uncivilized" Gypsy roots. When the delectable Amelia appeals to him for help, he intends to offer only friendship -- but intentions are no match for the desire that blindsides them both. But can a man who spurns tradition be tempted into that most time-honored arrangement: marriage? Life in London society is about to get a whole lot hotter...
What is it about all the books about Gypsies I've been reading lately? It's quite a coincidence. It seems every time I start a new romance, I'm reading about a hero who is half Gypsy, half Irish (or Scottish, or English - whatever) and shunned by his mother's people, the Roma, for being tainted with non-Romany blood? He's not accepted by his other half either - the father's side. Alienated by aristocratic society for having the blood and dark, swarthy good looks of his Roma forebears, he is in a kind of limbo, unaccepted as an equal and subject to the unkind prejudices and distrust of his people, no matter who his father may have been.
And so I've described Cam Rohan, the hero in Mine Till Midnight. This is Cam's story. Raised as a young boy in his mother's Gypsy camp, he must leave the camp and winds up working at Jenner's, a gambling house in London. It is soon learned that Cam has a knack for numbers, and he also has a knack for making money - lots of it, much to his embarrassment. Viscount St. Vincent (yes that St. Vincent from The Devil in Winter) takes Cam under his wing and introduces him to Society. Cam hobnobs with the many gentlemen that come to Jenner's, though he's still not considered one of them. He's rich, to be sure, but still a half breed Gypsy with a dubious heritage. Although Cam is wealthy and good looking and can have any woman for the asking - there is no shortage in that respect - he's bored with life and is considering giving up the ways of the gadji (non-Gypsies) and going back to his mother's tribe and traveling with them across the country.
But, his plans are upset when he meets prim and proper spinster, Amelia Hathaway who is looking for her drunken, scape grace brother Leo. Leo is a lost man, in more ways than one. Suffering from the loss of his dead fiancee, he has given up and decided to drown his sorrows with wine and women, gambling and all sorts of sordid activities. In other words - he's gone to pot.
Amelia seeks him out, with the help of her family retainer, another Gypsy, Merripen who has been with her family for years and is like an older brother to her and her siblings. While looking for Leo, they meet Cam in a dark alley behind Jenner's and he helps them. He's immediately arrested by the beauty and demeanor of Amelia - strange as that may be - it must be kismet - they are meant for each other, though she fights it at first. She is torn, her family counts on her to be strong and take care of them. She carries the load on her shoulders. They have a slew of problems: a broken down estate that her brother is taking no interest in, a frail younger sister who nearly died of scarlet fever (which killed Leo's fiancee, btw) and another younger sister who is a kleptomaniac. Fortunately, the crumbling estate is right next door to Stony Cross - from the Wallflower Series. After Leo nearly burns the estate down to the ground by accident, the Westcliff's from Stony Cross take them in until they can repair the damage - which basically means for the rest of book.
By coincidence, Cam Rohan happens to be staying at Stony Cross at the same time and he resumes his interest in Amelia. He shamelessly stalks her, intent on wooing her. But, another guest is staying in the area as well, her former love who jilted her, an architect that once led her to believe he'd marry her. He broke her heart and now he's suddenly back in her life again! Boy, when it rains it pours! I enjoyed the way Cam put the architect in his place and Amelia overcomes her initial distrust of Cam and sees the light - she wants him! Before long, she gives in to the passion that is simmering everytime they meet. Cam is also a huge help to her and her family, although Amelia is proud and resists his help at first, but her protests appear to be futile, he is relentless and will not take no for an answer - he wants to marry her and help her family - and her incorrigible brother who seems to be on a suicidal mission. One of the things that bothered me about this book was I didn't get the chemistry and "thing" between Cam and Amelia, I didn't see what he saw in her to begin with. It was more like he was bored and she was new and different and not his usual type so - voila! He's mad for her! But, for how long? How long can he go on rescuing her from one calamity after another? What happens if he finally says, "Enough already! You're family is driving me nuts!" Of course, that won't happen, but I find his too good to be true kindness and understanding a bit implausbile and too much. It kind of takes away from that bad boy attitude I found attractive in him to begin with. How much is he going to take? Yes, yes, I know, he never had a real family of his own so he doesn't mind taking on Amelia's siblings and their problems - he'll gladly do it for her - but I just don't find it attractive that he's so domineering after knowing her for such a brief period of time. He's just walked in and taken over, which irks her as well, she's not used to giving up control to anyone. Because he's half Gypsy and so male - is that supposed to make it all right? But, then again, this is a romance and no one ever said romances were all that realistic - that's part of why they're so fun to read and escape in, especially when it comes to alpha males!
Will Cam get his way with Amelia without her clunking him on the head first? Will he ever get over the fact he is half Gypsy and not accepted by either side of his family? Will Amelia agree to marry him and risk society's prejudices and dare to have some fun in her life? Will Leo ever shape up and be the good brother he once was? Will her fragile sister hook up with their Gypsy family retainer? Will Cam risk his life for the woman he loves? Will Amelia ever figure out how to get that damn ring off her finger? Questions... questions... just read the book and you'll find out the answers.
As usual, Lisa Kleypas' characters ooze sensuality and sexual tension, making it a pleasure to see how her hero and heroine finally manage to have a happy ending. In addition we see some old friends from the Wallflower series and there is a poignant side story between Amelia's frail sister and Merripen. There is also a villain and a ghost that add interest to story as well. All in all, it was a good book, though not the best Lisa Kleypas I've read. I can't say that Cam is a favorite of mine, I still go for the "to the manor born" types like Lord Westcliff *sigh* Still I am eager to read the next in this new Hathaway Series (new to me, at least) for I have a feeling I just might get my wish!