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Then Came You (#65 on AAR's Top 100 Romances)

Lisa Kleypas

An AAR Top 100 Romance

originally published on November 6, 1996

I first read Then Came You in 1993, shortly after discovering romance, and it is one of the reasons I fell in love with the genre. Different than most of the romances I’d read, it featured a heroine more tortured than the hero, a so-called “fallen” woman with a wicked reputation. Perhaps I fell in love with it as well because I was a new mother, and the pathos of the story is, in great part, derived from mother love.

After meeting the author last year, I was even more impressed by the book because, when she wrote it, Lisa Kleypas was a fairly sheltered young woman who hadn’t experienced much of the passion so wonderfully expressed. And, how did someone who hadn’t yet become a mother know so well the fears, longing, and love we mothers have for our children?

Then Came You is the story of Lily Lawson, a seemingly decadent woman who is determined that her sister not be forced by their parents into a loveless marriage with Lord Alex Raiford. Both have reputations that preceed them – she is thought to be the mistress of the owner of a successful gaming hell and he is known to be rigid and cold, having lost his spark since his fiancé was killed two years earlier in a riding accident.

The shenanigans these two involve themselves in are inventive and exciting. The sexual tension is palpable immediately and the pay-off intense and often (there’s nothing worse than incredible tension and a stingy pay-off, is there?). By the time Alex realizes what Lily means to him, she has been thrown off his estate, he has been kidnapped, she has knocked him unconscious, she has clothed herself as the biblical Eve, and all other sorts of scandal Alex never believed he’d come to actually enjoy.

Remarkably, the author allows Alex to love Lily before she loves him, or admits that she does. With that out of the way, Alex becomes the sort of hero not often encountered in historical romance. While at the beginning of the book he is an all-too typical romance hero – arrogant, emotionally stoic, and tragic, he grows to become not only strong but supportive, tender, and giving – in short, truly an heroic figure.

It is Lily who has farther to go. You see, she is the mother of an illegitimate girl, the father of whom has kidnapped her. Lily has been led on a merry chase for two years in search of her daughter and is being bilked of her fortune by him. Not only that, but the girl’s fortune-hunting father, apparently known as a great lover, apparently was not. Since their unfortunate liaison, Lily is unable to trust in anyone, let alone a man, and unwilling to involve herself in an intimate relationship.

How can she believe Alex actually cares for her? Perhaps he is simply seeking revenge for her spoiling his plans to marry her sister. And, what would he do were he to discover she birthed a bastard? How could a man known to the haute ton as a stickler of propriety allow her to be herself? How can she trust anyone when no one has ever come through for her in her life?

These basic questions are wonderfully answered in the course of the book. As well, there is a strong crop of secondary characters, including the owner of that gambling hell, Alex’s brother, Lily’s sister, that nefarious ex-lover, and a host of other characters that add to the richness of the story. I particularly enjoyed Lily’s butler, Alex’s aunt, and Alex’s cousin, who can’t resist tormenting his cousin out of jealousy.

As for Lily’s fears, the author deals with them one by one, in some very clever ways. Time and time again, Lily is left to feel alone in the world, and, each time, she is rescued by Alex. These rescues are sometimes physical and sometimes emotional. This is not a man who decided to change his love to fit his ideal. This is a man who reached out and grabbed his love, held on for dear life, and went for a hell of a ride! And, oh yeah, there’s a delicious epilogue too.

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Book Details

Reviewer :      Laurie Likes Books


Grade :     A


Sensuality :      Hot


Book Type :     


Review Tags :      |


Recent Comments

4 Comments

  1. Chrisreader October 22, 2017 at 7:57 pm - Reply

    I am a huge Kleypas fan, particularly of her historicals (and while I think the book just after this one is among her best and kind of began her “renaissance” as a writer) I can’t warm up to this book. I did read these novels out of order and loved the character of Lily first as a supporting player in Derek Craven’s book so I had very high hopes for her story but something about it didn’t gel for me. The Lily of this book didn’t engage me nearly as much as she did in her supporting role. Her relationship with Derek also seemed different (although I understand it had evolved by the second book in the series).

    If I had to sum it up I would say the book lacked warmth. Alex never evolved past a cardboard character and Lily, while meaning well, was all over the place. I never felt like the two characters belonged together or had a great connection. This novel was very uncharacteristically a “one and done” for me which almost never happens with Lisa Kleypas’s historical novels.

    • chris booklover October 23, 2017 at 8:34 pm - Reply

      My experience was very similar to yours. I read Dreaming of You first and loved it, so I had very high hopes for this novel. Sadly, it was something of a disappointment. I never understood why Alex was so obsessed and infatuated with Lily. It wasn’t that it was impossible to envision these two people ending up together – rather, given their histories, the story had to be something other than a simple hero in pursuit narrative. In the end I felt that Alex cared far more about Lily than she did about him. She only seemed to commit to the relationship right at the end. That sort of asymmetry between partners in terms of emotional investment in and commitment to a relationship does not, IMO, make for a very successful romance.

  2. Blackjack
    Blackjack October 22, 2017 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    This has always been my personal favorite of Kleypas’s books, though my tastes have shifted away from her writing over the years. I loved though the paradox of Lily’s character, as she is a both a tough and independent woman happily flaunting social conventions while at the same time she is achingly vulnerable and near suicidal at times. The hero, a somewhat staid and respectable aristocrat keen on his family’s reputation, is just a mess of emotions over her. He hates her, he admires her, he loves her passionately and he is endlessly frustrated by her antics and refusal to open up to him. Going back and rereading it recently I was quite put off by the constant references to her small and nearly childlike size and Alex’s constant rescuing of her. Apparently that appealed to me at one point in my life, but now it has become emblematic of what’s wrong in Kleypas’s writing for me. Despite so many wonderful things, here is yet another Kleypas novel where the heroine needs the man to teach her about sexual pleasure, to keep her safe, and to resolve all of her life problems. I suppose it’s a bit of a Cinderella story in the end. As much as I love this book, it is with sadness and regret that I have become quite critical of the writing and find it difficult to go back to now.

  3. Sonia October 24, 2017 at 7:21 am - Reply

    I personally loved, loved this one! Derek’s story, however, where Lily is a secondary character wasn’t that engaging for me. I actually hoped for a lot and maybe all the hype and expectations made me think about something I didn’t find, so… this will always be the one I prefer of the two.

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