Saturday, January 9, 2010
Win has been an invalid ever since she suffered a near-fatal case of scarlet fever. Merripen is a Romany Gypsy who was taken in by the Hathaway family when he was a boy. He has always kept his fierce passion for Win a secret, believing a romantic relationship would never be possible. But Win goes to an exclusive clinic, far away from Merripen and the rest of her family, and makes a remarkable recovery. And when she returns two years later, a changed woman, the explosive passion between these long-denied lovers threatens their family, their future, and even their lives...
Wow, I loved this story!
I was a bit lukewarm over the first in Kleypas' Hathaway Series, her follow-up to the ever popular Wallflowers Series. I was not as bowled over by Cam Rohan as many of her other fans were, and found his manner a bit pushy, but I was interested in the enigmatic and brooding Kev Merripen, another Gypsy half-blood that had lived with their family for years. Second in the series, this is Kev's story.
Kev, found unconscious by the Hathways as a young teen, had been left for dead by his tribe. The Hathaway's nursed him back to health and he then became a quasi member of the family. Part brother, part servant, he has a genuine love for the Hathaways and would protect them until his dying day. Despite Merripen's dark and foreboding manner, he has the loyalty of a lion and a particular love for Win Hathaway, the invalid second daughter in the family. As they both grew up, Will loved Merripen as well, yet due to her weak constitution and the fact that Kev had nothing to his name - a half Rom with no money of his own, he considered himself unsuitable and he would not allow their love to be acknowleged. He was satisfied for the moment to protect and take care of her, but as she grew older, Win was disatisfied with this arrangement. She wanted to love Kev openly and completely and the first step towards this was for her to get better once and for all. She goes away to a sanitorium for two years in France to recover. Once back on English soil, she is determined to face Merripen and renew their love fully with no more hindrances.
Naturally, all does not go exactly as planned.
Once back, Win wastes no time in seeking out her old love and putting her plan into action. But, their reunion takes a wrong unexpected turn due to mistaken identity. He mistakes her for a prostitute sent up to his room at his hotel. Cloaked with a hood, he cannot see her face, and she keeps up the pretense. Startled and shocked once he recognizes her, they have an explosive, unguarded passionate encounter, but he pushes her away as he comes to his senses, as he does through much of the next few hundred pages. His is combustible, his love for her is so pent up, you can feel the tension waft off the pages. He wants her and needs release, yet, not only does he still believe himself wrong for her, her doctor, who has returned to England with her, has made it clear that it could be fatal for her if she has a child. Hmmm... that's a sure deterrent for mad, passionate sex. Quite a condundrum.
But, Win rejects her doctor's belief, she wants a normal life, she doesn't want to be considered an invalid any longer. And she wants to spend her life with only one man - Kev, and Kev is trying not to give in - but it's not easy! Their attraction to one another and love cannot be ignored, there's too much going on between them, no matter how much they try to deny it. Amidst the usual misunderstandings and harsh words, giving angst to the story, they do manage to have a few passionate, spellbinding moments together, one of which gets out of control - and gets them into hot water. They are seen, in flagrante, kissing at a ball in the dark. Hot with passion, he admits he loves her, yet he still cannot marry her - and bed her. He won't kill her by acting on his love. He doesn't want her to die in childbirth as did his mother. Noble intentions, but unrealistic and they backfire. Her smarmy doctor wants to marry her anyway, and takes advantage of the situation. He steps in and says he was the one seen with her. Kev does nothing to stop him. Win, furious that Kev is not claiming her, can do nothing but accept the doctor's proposal to save herself from disgrace. Her doctor is hiding some kind of nefarious deep dark secret about the death of his first wife. What is his story? Is it just that he likes to collect beautiful things, and Win would be the crown jewel in his collection? How can Kev let this happen?
Without giving away too much, I can assure you Kev comes to his senses before it's too late. And what a glorious time it is! I loved it, it was everything the reader could hope for! Lisa Kleypas is the queen of writing sensual romantic love scenes and Win and Kev's moment of truth was one of her best. One of the things I really adored about this story is the chemistry between this pair. Their love for each other is palpable. A tortured hero, as are many of Kleypas' leading men, Kev is larger than life, a rough but gentle giant with a simmering sexuality about him. He is strong and towering, yet vulnerable - who was his father and why did his Rom tribe leave him for dead? He has a terribly brutal past and he's afraid that he'll hurt Win. But she's not afraid of him, she wants him and goes after him! Win's character could have been this withdrawn, shrinking violet, but instead Kleypas gives her a strong backbone and will to live. Petite and fair haired, with a beguiling innocence about her that hides the true passion beneath, she's a perfect foil for Kev's commanding aura and masculinity. She has an iron will and the ability to calm Kev and finally make him happy.
As much as it seems that once they have their place in the sun together all is well and good, but they're still not completely out of the woods yet, the story doesn't end there. Thanks to a little - but crucial lie that Win told Kev, he is furious with her and scared to death. Roms don't take to being manipulated by women - even if they are madly in love with them. A minor setback, but that's not all that happens in the story. More secrets are revealed and we find out the truth about Kev and Cam Rohan and their true heritage that will change their lives forever. Being a sucker for highborn lords, this was just what I wanted!
I'm sorry the book is over, I could of continued to read on and on forever, I'm eager to read the next book, even if it doesn't center on Kev and Win, at least I'm sure I'll get a glimpse of them! They've become one of my favorite literary romance couples now! I'll also be interested in seeing what develops between Leo, Win's viscount brother and the prickly governess that's gotten under his skin.
One of my new favorites by Lisa Kleypas and a keeper - read it and enjoy!