Seduce Me at Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Ms. Kleypas has managed to impress me yet again. She writes some of the most beautiful, most romantic love stories I've ever read. And this one is up there on my list of premier Lisa Kleypas novels. Seduce Me at Sunrise has one of those love affairs that is so intense and enduring, how could I possibly not love it? Kev Merripen fell in love with Win Hathaway even before he saw her. The Hathaways took him in when he was found badly injured and left for dead, despite him being a Gypsy. They nursed him back to health and treated him with a kindness that was foreign to him. And that is how he met Win. He felt her presence and it drew him to her. He willed her to come into his sickroom, and when she did, he grabbed her and didn't want to let her go. Over the years, not an ounce of his intense, violent love for her changed, even though Merripen did not think he was good enough for her. He was raised by his tribe to be the most ruthless, the most violent fighter. Gentleness was literally beaten out of him. But nothing could take away the love he had for Win.
Win loved Merripen at first sight as well. He was like a wild, beautiful creature that claimed her heart. When she fell ill with scarlet fever, for years she believed she could not possibly have a normal life. Yet the hope of being with Merripen in all the ways a woman can be with a man encouraged her to get her health improved. Two years later, she returns, hoping to get Merripen to see that they belong together. Yet he resists, even though the force of his love makes him want to kill any man that might claim her.
To be honest, Merripen was frustrating me. He was giving out some serious mixed signals. I felt bad for Win, because she decided to move on with her life, but he wouldn't let any man near her. And then he does something that was pretty wrong, in my opinion. I was holding my breath, hoping he'd come through and he didn't. I wanted to get out my shovel to hit him over the head then and there. But Ms. Kleypas allowed me to see the motivations and the anguish inside of Merripen. Why he would push away the thing he wanted/needed most in the whole world. Because he wanted what was best for her. And seeing Merripen's motivations coming out of love allowed me to forgive him.
This book was so beautiful in the intense love between this couple. I wanted to savor the scenes of them interacting, the words exchanged. Merripen might think he is a brute who is unworthy of Win, but his actions always spoke differently. There was no question he would die and go to Hell many times for Win. That kind of love cannot help but appeal to me, being the die-hard romantic that I am.
I liked both characters a lot. Even though some of their actions frustrated me, Merripen moreso. He was really a product of his terrible childhood, but he managed to rise above that, and become a good, productive, caring person (although he didn't see himself that way). Win had a sweetness about her. Her belief in the trueness of the love between her and Merripen was a guiding force. Her sweet, loving nature was a cornerstone in the Hathaway family. One of the things I love about the Hathaway series is how the brother and sisters are all shown to be so unique, and committed to each other, even if they don't always get along. Merripen and Cam fit in so perfectly, like the last two pieces of a puzzle (along with the intriguing Miss Marks, the governess who gets along with Leo Hathaway like cats and dogs. Hmm???? What's going on there??).
As usual, Ms. Kleypas beautifully describes the scenery, the characters, and the settings. The luscious descriptions of everything makes me want to get sucked into the book so I can experience it all first hand. Her love scenes are so intense and descriptive in a way that is very sensual without being vulgar. They are earthy, yet elevated at the same time. You feel the love connection between the characters.
I liked how this story was very much a family story, in addition to being about the relationship between Merripen and Win. The Hathaways are such a fun, interesting family to read about. They seem to take everything in stride, and continue to add more people the fold without any fuss. I'm excited to read about Poppy, Beatrix, and Leo's happy endings. I must say I am overjoyed to see Leo starting to pick up the pieces of his life and moving on with some purpose. I think that Miss Marks will give him something to focus on, along with his renewed interest in architecture. In this story, we get to see the relationship between Leo and Merripen; how Leo is able to help Merripen see that giving up what he wants most in the world might be a foolish move on his part, because love is too precious to waste. If anyone knows what it's like to lose one's love, it's Leo. It was funny how the Hathaways treated Win and Merripen like they were a foregone conclusion, even thought Merripen is slow on the uptake about it.
It was also enjoyable to see the love affair/marriage of Cam and Amelia continue. What a great couple. They have the kind of marriage you wish for. Amelia is a singular woman, who I find strong but gentle at the same time. She's quite the mother hen, taking care of her brood, including husband, brother and sisters, and Merripen, who is like a brother to her. Cam is such an interesting character. I could vividly see him and picture the sometimes outrageous things he would say and think. It's very interesting to see how he and Merripen interact and what the repercussions are of their association.
Once again, I have read another Kleypas that I can easily give five stars. Her writing is always great, but she gets even better with each new book. I admire that she does her research to treat the historical Victorian setting with respect, and managed to weave in the fascinating Romany culture so well in this story. This might be a love story, but it is also a great fiction book with different nuances that make it enjoyable on many levels. But the one aspect that sent me to the moon when I was reading it, was the intense, enduring, burning-hot love between Merripen and Win. You know that fifty years from when this book ends, they will be just as much in love, if not moreso. That's romance to this reader.
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