Married by Morning
Those who have been following Lisa Kleypas’ Hathaway series have been greatly anticipating Leo’s match with Catherine Marks, which finally happens in Married by Morning. While it certainly doesn’t disappoint, it doesn’t quite reach its full potential. That said, this is a Lisa Kleypas novel, so it’s guaranteed to be better than a lot of the historical romances out there.
After Leo’s fiancé died in his arms, he lost himself thoroughly in grief, alcohol, and vice. Though he’s since mostly reformed, his reputation precedes him. His sisters’ straitlaced governess holds a particular prejudice against him, which causes sparks between them—all interactions are filled with insults, sparring, and general unpleasantness. However, behind Cat’s uptight façade is a secret past that may jeopardize her future with the Hathaways.
Meanwhile, the copasetic and eccentric life the family has built for themselves is also at risk; a complicated and previously unnoticed clause in the inheritance requires Leo to marry and reproduce an heir by a deadline, or they lose the house they have rebuilt to the previous viscount’s widow and daughter. However, remnants of his own heart break, and the attractive and feisty Cat Marks and the mystery she poses, are deterring him from finding a bride and saving the Hathaway’s beloved home.
Though I could tell they were meant to be matched, I never really appreciated the antagonism between Leo and Cat in previous books the way other readers did. In this book, though, I really liked their chemistry and got a better understanding of the tension underlying the hostility. The transition from vexation to affection left me with mixed feelings, though. At first I thought it wasn’t really there, that it just happened with no cause or motivation. But looking back, I wonder if it’s just so subtle that I didn’t pick up on it while it was happening. I still haven’t fully decided which was the case.
Leo is a truly funny character. I loved him. One of my pet peeves in writing is authorial self-awareness of their own wit. There’s nothing worse than ruining a good joke with dwelling on the uproarious laughter that follows it. In this case, though, Lisa Kleypas thankfully lets Leo’s humor stand for itself, and it’s all the better for its unadornment. Aside from his wit, though, he has a darkness to him that can’t be ignored. I loved the contrast and trying to understand his motivations, but he makes a drastic switch in position in the second half of the book that lacks sufficient explanation or motivation.
Cat was a bit more elusive in general for me. The heroine I got to know in this book didn’t quite match up with who was presented in the previous Hathaway novels. She was still an interesting character, though, and a likeable one despite her stubbornness and prickliness.
The end, unfortunately, was entirely predictable. I don’t remember a Kleypas novel without a kidnapping tacked on at the end, and this one was no different. However, despite its flaws, it’s still a fun book. The animal-loving Beatrix is next to get the romance novel treatment, and I for one can’t wait.