Married By Morning by Lisa Kleypas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Married by Morning was such a delightful book. It fully exceeded my high expectations. The sparks between Leo Hathaway, Lord Ramsay, and Catherine Marks in the prior Hathaway books promised good tension and a fun read, but Ms. Kleypas managed to draw on deep wells of emotion and passion in writing this story, that made it even fuller than I expected.
I had the feeling that Catherine would prove to be fairly tortured for a Kleypas heroine, and it turned out I was right. She had some deeply buried issues, related to her abandonment by her father to the dubious care of her grandmother and aunt, and the heinous future they had planned for her. I was quite surprised at the terrible fate that Catherine barely avoided, and glad that her brother, Harry Rutledge, came to her rescue in time. But, his saving her wasn't soon enough for her to avoid the deep emotional trauma of what she suffered. Since that point, she has buried herself within the prim disguise of a spinster governess, although she isn't that much older than her charges, the younger Hathaway sisters, Poppy and Beatrix.
Leo Hathway was her Achilles' Heel, almost from the beginning. A strong, vital man who made her feel things she didn't want to feel. He represented what she thought she despised, but Leo proves to be the man for her. They trade insults freely, but underneath is a sizzling attraction that is more than obvious to the Hathaways.
I simply adored Leo in this book. He was the consummate hero in pursuit, in all the best ways. He is determined to woo Catherine and give her exactly what she needs: love, understanding, protection, and companionship. Because he realizes that she's the one woman for him, even though he vowed not to fall in love again after losing Laura. Catherine brings him to life, making him want her more than is prudent and convenient. And, in true form for him, he barely skirts society's rules chasing his reluctant heroine. I could see why Catherine was hesitant to accept Leo's proposal, with her past and what she suffered--even though I hoped she'd say yes to his proposal. Although Leo was frustrated that she continued to hold herself back, he didn't give up. I really admired him for that. I think Catherine needed a man who really focused on her, wooing her powerfully.
Leo was a dark horse in this series, although I shouldn't have been a surprise at how well he turned out as a hero. He went from the darkest depths of despair after the loss of his first love, turning into a dissolute rake bent on self-destruction. His sojourn in France gives him the time and space he needs to heal his broken heart and shattered soul. When he comes back, he's still a bit of a rake, completely irreverent and wicked in the things he says, but he finds a sense of purpose in taking care of his properties as Lord Ramsay, and occasionally doing architectural commissions, spending time with his family. When Ms. Marks shows up as the governess for his younger, unmarried sisters, he wonders why they hired such a buttoned-up, bitter hag. Yet, he finds himself unwittingly attracted to her. In fact, she becomes an obsession he cannot deny himself. When he finds out that he must marry to keep Ramsay house, he isn't eager to find a bride at first. But soon, his heart tells him that only one bride will do, Miss Marks. And Leo moves mountains and does the sweetest little things to prove his love. It made me sigh to see such a good woman who had been forsaken in many ways find a man who loved her so very much, and she loved in return.
This was a simple book, but rich in content. It has the characteristic, beautiful writing that makes Lisa Kleypas one of my favorite authors. It is very sensual, with the compelling attraction between Leo and Catherine. Stolen kisses that will melt your socks off, moments of intimacy full of passion, and a love that conquers both Leo and Catherine's reluctant hearts. I could not help but root for this couple. And of course, it's always lovely to catch up with the Hathaways, and their spouses. It feels like coming home.
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