Sunday, November 6, 2011
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...
Last of the Hathaway Series and my second favorite of all five of the books, Beatrix, the youngest and animal-lover extraordinaire finally gets her story.
Shell shocked from the Crimean War, Christopher Phelan returns home and learns the woman who he corresponded with - and fell in love with through her letters - wasn't who he thought she was. Can he forgive Beatrix Hathaway - the real author of the letters?
Beatrix is one of those heroines that's different from other girls. Frankly, all the Hathaway women are a bit different from your typical Society young lady, but Beatrix is even more different. Having lost her parents at a young age, she had her ups and downs growing up. Bouts of kleptomania, brought on due to feelings of abandonment worried her siblings but she was able to overcome her problems eventually. One of the ways she coped with her trials was through her love of animals. Beatrix has a natural affinity towards them. She can tame just about anything. In some ways she's like a "horse whisperer." Give her an animal that's got some kind of psychosis and Beatrix can cure it - make it whole again.
Enter Captain Christopher Phelan.
Before he went off to war, Christopher was a gallant and debonair flirt, the life of the party. Dressed up in his regimentals he cut a dashing figure. But the war changed him. With a natural talent as a sharpshooter, he became a killer in the war. The constant killing and slaughter of his friends and comrades took it's toll on Phelan, he was no longer carefree. He returned to England after the war a hero, lauded for his courage and brave deeds. But all of that meant nothing to him. He suffered from shell shock and guilt. He survived when he was unable to save his best friend. Avoiding all the fanfare as a returning hero, all he wanted to do was find the girl who kept him sane. The girl who understood him and wrote him the wonderful letters that made him want to live and return home one day. The girl that captured his heart and soul. Who understood what he was going through in the war, his doubts and fears. His feelings of loss and inadequacy.
Unfortunately, the girl he thought he was corresponding with was all a lie. It all began so innocently. Beatrix' friend Prudence had met Captain Phelan before he went off to war and promised to write to him. His first letter to her was very down and realistic and she wasn't interested in reading about his problems in his letters. A shallow and uncaring girl, she mentioned his letter to Beatrix. Beatrix, naturally empathetic, felt terrible for him and wound up returning his letter under the guise of her friend. Before long their letters were becoming deeper and more meaningful. They were caring and compassionate. She was falling in love with Christopher (the same man who once scorned her and said she only belonged in a stable). Eventually, she could no longer continue with the deception. He thought he was corresponding with Prudence, not the strange Beatrix Hathaway! Her last letter to him basically told him that she wasn't who he thought she was and to come back and find her. Due to a mix up, Beatrix never meant to send that last letter. But it got mailed anyway. He misunderstood it's meaning and the first person he wanted to see upon his return to England was the shallow Prudence!
It doesn't take Christopher long to realize the real Prudence wasn't at all like the Prudence of his letters. Yet, he couldn't understand why. It left him disillusioned. He was angry and bitter and it didn't help the dog that he brought home with him from the war was nipping and growling at everyone in sight. The only one that seemed to be able to tame it was, of course, Beatrix. Phelan and Beatrix develop an uneasy friendship but over time she is able to help him relax - and she tames his dog. As he spends more and more time with Prudence, he keeps resisting the suspicions that are growing in his mind. The things she says... they sound like Prudence's letters... could it be? Did Prudence write those letters? If not - was it Beatrix? Were they playing one big joke on him? Imagining the worst, he confronts Beatrix and... I won't spoil it, you'll have to read it yourself, but it was moving and emotional and vintage Lisa Kleypas. I had tears in my eyes when Christopher and Beatrix finally have their reckoning. She owed him an explanation and he needed to know that the woman he grew to love through her letters really existed - and loved him back.
I loved this moving and emotional tale which brought me to tears. A real winner. Christopher and Beatrix' story has many facets to it. It's sad and emotional, yet uplifting, not to mention some pretty hot love scenes. Their moment of truth is passionate and satisfying and worthy of all that they've gone through to get to that penultimate moment. She is perfect for him, as only she can understand him and "tame" him. I was so happy to find that Beatrix finally found her perfect mate and I was happy for Christopher to have a happy ending as well.
Great, great story that will tug at your heartstrings. I highly recommend this thoughtful and wonderful finale to the Hathaway Series!