4 Star Review:
The third sister in the strange and unusual Hathaway family, Poppy wishes for something none of her sisters want. She wants normal. She wants an ordinary life separate from hedgehogs, lizards, and the scandal that envelops her family. While Poppy adores her family, she wants to have a relationship where she feels loved and secure. She hopes to marry Bayning, but the reputation of her family makes it impossible. Along comes the villainous hotelier Harry Rutledge, whom she finds both fascinating and down right sexy. One sexy kiss on the balcony causes a scandal for Poppy, but it takes much on Harry’s part to convince her to accept him. One problem: marriage isn’t as easy as they think. They’re constantly circling each other, fighting and arguing. Neither trusts the other. Kleypas tells a story of strangers who learn to love each other through their conversations as well as their actions.
I can’t start talking about the characters without starting off with Poppy’s chaotic family first. Amelia and Cam, Poppy’s eldest sister and her brother-in-law, show their love and devotion to Poppy by their forceful words towards Harry. They want her to be happy more than they want Harry to marry Poppy. The great thing about the Hathaway family is that they don’t fucking care about protecting their family’s reputation. They care about whether Poppy’s happy with Harry:
Rutledge…the Hathaways lived outside London society for so many years that we couldn’t give a monkey’s arse as to whether we’re received or not. Poppy doesn’t have to marry anyone, for any reason, other than her own desire to do so. And Poppy is of the opinion that you and she would never suit.
See how awesome they are? I can’t wait for Leo’s book. Any brother that says something like that for the good of his sister can be nothing but pure awesome. A rake and all around scoundrel, Leo Hathaway cares everything for his family. He teases Poppy like any self-respecting brother would. He makes sure Harry understands the danger of making Poppy unhappy. He never felt like the stereotypical two-dimensional rake brother of the heroine. There’s even a hilarious scene towards the end of the book where Poppy has concerns about her husband:
“Damn it. What exactly are we calling a ‘masculine problem’? Did he have trouble running the flag up? Or did it just fall to half-staff?”
“Do we have to speak about this metaphorically, or__”
“Yes”, Leo said firmly.
“All right. He…”Poppy frowned in concentration as she searched for the right words, “…left me while the flag was still flying.”
“Was he drunk?”
Beatrice, the youngest sister in the Hathaway family, tries to save a monkey and contemplates why ladies don’t use the word drawers in public. Kleypas allows for humor through the characters (particularly Beatrice), while never becoming obvious or stale to the reader. Every character plays their part. Even though some seem to be in the backstage part of the story, they still have their purpose. The only characters that I felt didn’t necessarily need to be there were the men from the War Office. They just seemed to be there as an excuse for relationship development. They never really seemed to be fully developed. It’s kind of like the author just inserted them into the story.
The plot stays on the romance, which I understand. I appreciate that the author focused on the relationship development and characters as the plot, since it’s a romance. It would be a completely different story if it were another genre. Does that make sense? At least, I still give the genre a hard time. I still complain about fated love in romance. The only thing I disliked was the whole War Office sub-plot. I say sub-plot because it became such a small part of the novel that there’s no way it could be considered part of the plot. The character Kimloch becomes quite obvious from the very begging. He’s forceful and demanding towards Harry:
Poppy felt ill as she heard the naked greed in his voice. Kinloch wanted profits. Sir Gerald wanted power.
I’ll try not to spoil it, but lets just say that the author makes the sub-plot a bit unsatisfying to the reader by the end of the novel.
Poppy and Harry start out their relationship with conversing in his office about their interests. Harry becomes intrigued by Poppy:
Poppy. How artless she had been, chatting casually about astrolabes and Franciscan monks as she had browsed among his treasures. She had thrown out words in big clusters, as if she were scattering confetti. She had radiated a kind of cheery astuteness that should have been annoying, but instead it had given him pleasure…he wanted her.
Harry does whatever it takes to get the hand of Poppy, even if it means being selfish; for he’s a selfish man. However, he comes to be selfless when it comes to Poppy. He cares only for her well being once he falls in love with her. I loved that they fell in love a good while after they had been married. They fought, they argued, and they ignored each other’s personal feelings. But in doing this they started to get to know each other. By understanding each other, they showed their kindness. Harry gifts Poppy with chocolates that aren’t even purchasable by most peers at this point. Poppy loves chocolates. Who doesn’t love chocolate? Crazy people, that’s who. There are some seriously sweet lines in this book:
He drew in the taste of her, delighting in her response. The casual response deepened, altered into something patient and deeply hungering…heat opening into more heat, a kiss with the layered merosity of exotic flowers.
Kleypas has so many gorgeous descriptions in this book. I love the way she paces the relationship as well as the actions of the characters. I also found it funny, the ways in which Harry uses ridiculous ways of describing his love for his wife:
“I can’t think of a single day of my life that wouldn’t have improved with you in it.”
“Darling,” she whispered, her fingertips coming up to stroke his jaw, “that’s lovely. Even more romantic than comparing me to watch parts.”
“Are you mocking me?”
“Not at all,” Poppy said, smiling. “I know how you feel about gears and mechanisms.”
Although the line where Harry compares Poppy to:
“Working with Arabian horses…
They’re responsive, quick, but they need their freedom. You never master an Arabian…you become its companion.”
It took me a while to put this type of sentiment together without wanting to slap Harry. While I love that he means well and wants her to be his companion, I don’t understand why he felt the need to compare a woman to a horse. I guess it would sort of make sense since in reality, people didn’t bathe all that much back then. I guess this must be like when guys compare girls to cars? I do not see this as romantic or respectful to Poppy in any way.
I disliked the way Harry would be really kind to Poppy and then awfully coldhearted. I understand why he did this because he’s trying to protect himself. But, that’s no fucking excuse in my opinion.</p>
I loved this book. That’s all. Go read it.