Friday, July 30, 2010

Tempt Me at Twilight by Lisa Kleypas

Book Description:

Poppy Hathaway loves her unconventional family, though she longs for normalcy. Then fate leads to a meeting with Harry Rutledge, an enigmatic hotel owner and inventor with wealth, power, and a dangerous hidden life. When their flirtation compromises her own reputation, Poppy shocks everyone by accepting his proposal -- only to find that her new husband offers his passion, but not his trust.


Harry was willing to do anything to win Poppy -- except to open his heart. All his life, he has held the world at arm's length -- but the sharp, beguiling Poppy demands to be his wife in every way that matters. Still, as desire grows between them, an enemy lurks in the shadows. Now if Harry wants to keep Poppy by his side, he must forge a true union of body and soul, once and for all...

Quick review because I've had a hard time thinking about what to write about this book, and I've put it off because I didn't really like it.  Coming off the second in the Hathaways Series, Seduce Me at Sunrise, which I loved, I was bound to be let down with Poppy's story.  It wasn't just because Poppy was sort of a boring heroine, but I didn't like the hero in this story at all, and to me, that makes or breaks the book.

Is it me or is Harry Rutledge kind of ... awful?  I'm not sure if I like this kind of ruthless hero.  He's handsome and mysterious - the owner of the Rutledge Hotel that is the common setting for many of Kleypas' books in both the Wallflowers and Hathaways series.  At first I thought, hmm, interesting... so Poppy will wind up with the Mr. Rutledge.  But then as we got to know him more, I was thinking more along the lines of "Poor Poppy, the rabbit!"  I think she's a bit out of her depth with Rutledge - the cat.  He's an odd hero, no friends and he's a recluse.   He ruthlessly ruins her plans to marry Michael Bayning, the man she wants and loves, and then has the effrontery to appear almost gleeful at the way he compromises her at a ball, resulting in their need to marry instead - all in front of her former fiancé, who has now taken to drink after having to give Poppy up.  Granted, he turned out to be weak and unworthy of Poppy - but still!  I didn't like the fact that Harry took it upon himself to manipulate everyone and everything - much too heavy handed for my tastes!  I usually like alpha heroes and men in charge who call their women "Mine", but Harry just came across as mean.  I don't like that.

I found their relationship and eventual love for each other a reach.  Their marriage starts out on the cool side, Poppy is not crazy about him and she has to get used to his odd ways.  She's forced to marry him since they were seen kissing at a ball (just like with Win and Merripen).  So, why all of a sudden did Poppy fall for him after a few weeks? What did he do to win her love?  Nothing much, except maybe she just started to get used to him, but I can't see how she'd actually love him!  Mr. Rutledge is not Mr. Romantic.  He leaves her in the middle of the night after taking her virginity with no explanation, leaving her miserable and questioning the whole sex act  to the point where she has to ask her brother about it!  Then she leaves London (and Harry) to go to Hampshire with her brother Leo the next day.  Not good for a new marriage -  it took a long time to even consummate it, and then they both walk out on each other afterwards?  Aargh!

Once in Hampshire, everything changes, all of a sudden Poppy realizes she loves him because she finds out what a rotten childhood he had and that her companion, Miss Marks, is his half sister.  Huh?  So that makes it all fine and dandy?  I don't buy it.  At least her family didn't like him at first, yet I was disappointed that they came around so easily, especially Cam and Merripen.  Was it because he followed her to Hampshire (as they knew he would), and then took a holiday away from the hotel to have a honeymoon?  I guess a little R&R and sex can miraculously change a man overnight - again, I don't buy it.

One shining point, I liked seeing bits of Merripen and Win here, for I love them as a couple.  But I was surprised there was simply no mention whatsoever that Merripen and Cam are brothers and that their father was a lord. Only their Rom associations were referred to - perhaps not to spoil Seduce Me at Sunrise for those that haven't read it yet?

This was the weakest of the Hathaway series, Poppy has never been all that interesting and I can't say this book changed my mind about her.  Harry was the villain through most of the book, and not even a really delicious villain like Sebastian from Devil In Winter.  Sebastian's more of a reformed rake, IMHO, anyway.  The sex was okay, nothing great.  I got the impression this is a transitional book from Win and Merripen's story in Seduce Me at Sunrise to Leo and Catherine's storyline in the next book.  There's quite a cliffhanger regarding them and it certainly makes me want to read the next book!  I have high hopes that it's better than this one! 

As a whole in regard to this series and Lisa Kleypas in general, I'm getting a little tired of the Hathaways and their quirky ways.   The plots are a bit formulaic as well.  Once the h/h finally fall in love and get it on, declaring their love for each other, some villain comes and kidnaps one of them and there is some sort of rescue at the end.  They may not always be exactly like this but LK's books all follow this basic formula.  I really loved it at first, but now that I've read a lot of Kleypas, this formula is getting really old - she needs a shot in the arm when it comes to her plotlines to give them some much needed zest.  Don't get me wrong, I love LK, but this was a real miss!

Excuse my rant but I guess I'm just really annoyed with this book and it put me in a crappy mood.  In sum, I don't like this kind of mean and ruthless hero. Harry came across as a jerk much of the time, and frankly, I felt sorry for Poppy and her lot in life with him.  This was my least favorite of all the Kleypas books I've read.  Harry Rutledge did nothing for me, as did this book. Too little build up with their budding relationship that shows the development of their feelings and Poppy's aha moment that she loves him!  He just simply wants her, and then when it turns out she's the first woman to make it hard for him he realizes, "Gee, if I still want her so much, I must be in love!"  Hmm.  A disappointment, though I will read the next and the next and the next...



Scorpio M. said...

I definitely enjoyed TMAT more than you. With Harry I felt that LK tried to pen a darker, more aloof hero who was yearning for love but did not know how to articulate the need. I ended up really liking him.

St. Vincent was a very manipulative, selfish hero yet he is beloved by fans. (I never really understood why really, any hero who calls his wife a b*tch, especially one as sweet as Evie, doesn't rank high on my list. Must be the bad boy thing :)) But what makes Sebastian different from Harry is that right from the beginning we knew Sebastian's motivations. Money. With Harry, LK tried to make him a bit too enigmatic so he comes across as ruthless and mean without any justification.

I agree with you on Poppy, she is a bit boring. She sought a normal, sedate life away from the Hathaway craziness so I guess that jives with her rather plain personality.

I finished the last 2 of this series recently. I was a bit disappointed in Leo's book, very forgettable. I enjoyed Beatrix's story much better but it wasn't a homerun either. I like LK and will continue to pick up her books but I'm not as excited as I used to be when a new LK hits the shelves.

Danielle87 said...

See, I'm in the minority because I really liked this book.

And I liked Harry... which is odd, I'll admit. But I kinda appreciated how Kleypas kept him 'mean' throughout, because I hate it when rakes are miraculously cured of their caddish ways. I liked the fact that he could be gentle with Poppy, but refused to give up his ruthless nature. But I think you're right - Poppy was the middle sister and she read like one. She was beautiful, but not much else.

The last book in the Hathaways series is 'Love in the Afternoon' and it blew me away! Brilliant novel, one of Kleypas's best.

I do understand what you're saying about LK being formulaic. When I'm in the mood I appreciate being able to depend on LK to deliver a certain kind of novel... but I'm really happy that she is bringing out another contempoary romance series and taking a break from historical romances for a while. I loved her 'Travis' trilogy, and I'm eager to read 'Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor'.

ibeeeg said...

Okay...this will be one book for me to avoid. I have not been reading much romance novels lately because the routeness of it all has become a bit boring. plus, I really don't like when I see the couples fall head over heels...professing undying love towards one another in the span of 24 hours. :\

Marie-Thérèse said...

Julie, you've beautifully articulated my exact feelings about this book and this (so-called) hero.

I really loathed Harry Rutledge and felt that nothing he did merited any kind of eventual happiness. I don't care in the least what his childhood was like or how "lonely" and friendless he was, neither provides any excuse for his monstrous narcissism. Harry is about as close to a sociopath as I've seen in a recently written historical romance hero. Not attractive to me at all.

A really great heroine can often make up for a dull or unlikeable hero in my experience (I'm a heroine-centric reader), but Poppy remained a cipher to me throughout this book. She appeared to have absolutely no real personality, no particular thoughts, plans, desires or interests. I wouldn't even call her a "cardboard" character because she seemed even less substantial than that.

As you know from my posts on LT, I'm also really troubled by the increasingly formulaic nature of Lisa Kleypas' plots, particularly her reliance on extreme acts of violence or nature serving as both a narrative climax and a deus ex machina bringing together willy-nilly not always very well-matched characters. The Hathaways series has taken this to an extreme (these people have to be the unluckiest family in all of England!) but signs of it were already apparent in Kleypas' earlier series books. The obligatory disaster (fires! floods! a plague of locusts! Well, ok, the last was really bees instead of locusts but still close enough to make me wonder if the author has plans to depict all ten plagues of Egypt ;-)) has become so routine and therefore so lacking in suspense that I just roll my eyes and skim through it to the last few pages. What was once exciting seems increasingly silly and also rather lazy because with all the often pointless action occurring there's no need (and certainly no time!) to develop interesting, well-rounded characters or explore the nuances and difficulties of their relationship.

By the way, I just finished the next Hathaways' book, 'Married By Morning', and while it's certainly better than 'Tempt Me at Twilight', it followed the same tired formula and ended up being rather mediocre, a real disappointment given what should have been an ideal pairing. I'll read the last in the series since I already own it but after that I fear Ms. Kleypas and I may be going our separate ways.

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Scorpio-I hear you, but Harry just didn't do it for me. I don't mind dark heroes as a rule, but they have to be done right. I'm not a huge Sebastian lover myself (not as much as some), but he was at least likeable, I didn't even like Harry! LOL! Plus, Evie came to Sebastian, not the other way around! I don't even remember the part when he calls her a bitch (it's been a while since I read it). Thanks for commenting and your point of view - that's what makes this all so interesting!

Danielle, you're not in the minority, it seems. I'm glad to hear you like the last book so much, I have them both, but will probably not read them right off the bat and will spread them out. Yes, unfortunate that Poppy was so ordinary, she didn't seem to have any oustanding quality except for being pretty and wanting a normal life. That was her niche - she was different from the other quirky Hathaways, but it still made her dull. Plus, she just gave in too easily and accepted Harry, which I found weak and implausible! I can understand, after a few months, their love would grow, blah, blah, blah, but this was just too fast in Hampshire, even before he arrived she had forgiven him - I just didn't get it! I haven't read any of LK's contemporaries yet, since I don't read many as a rule, but I will begin them for I hear they're very good! Thanks for your comment!

ibeeeg- don't avoid Kleypas altogether, this was just not her best. Some of her others are great! But I know what you mean, instant love, and in this one, Harry saw Poppy and "instantly" he had to have her and did everything he could to make sure that would happen. He was so awful!

M-T - thanks for your long and detailed viewpoint, which coincides with mine perfectly! I totally agree with you, but I'm not giving up on LK, but her formula and the many disasters is so true! I can't help thinking when I'm getting to that last 1/3 of the book, "Oh no, what disaster or kidnapping or catastrophe is going to happen now before the book ends?" But, a lot of romances are like that, it's what makes a big splashy ending. I'm tired of it, but it seems to be the thing nowadays, I'm just looking for new ways to see how it's done. Love your comments, as always!

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