Tempt Me at Twilight
Kleypas is a name that I’m always willing to try. I haven’t read too many of her books, but most of those I have are still sitting on my shelf. Tempt Me at Twilight is the first of the Hathaway stories I’ve encountered (though it’s the third in the series). While this story was good enough to warrant a recommendation, I was surprised that I found several aspects of it bothersome.
Poppy Hathaway is in London for her third season and staying yet again at the Rutledge Hotel. She’s chasing a ferret through the halls unattended when the story opens. The ferret has snatched a love letter that, were it found, would be detrimental to Poppy’s reputation, so she goes to extreme lengths to get the note back. She follows the recalcitrant animal into the hotel offices and then through a secret opening in the fireplace that she finds. As she is searching the dim tunnels for an exit, a man grabs her and threatens retribution. When her identity is revealed, he leads her to Mr. Rutledge’s curiosities room, where she admires the many collectibles of the eccentric hotel owner. She understands how inappropriate it is to be alone with this man and tries to make a hasty retreat, but before she can escape, he kisses her.
Poppy soon learns that the man she met is Mr. Harry Rutledge himself and her curiosity over the man increases. He’s known as a reclusive man who rarely enters society. What she doesn’t realize is that Harry has become immensely successful by knowing what he wants and stopping at nothing to obtain it. And Harry has decided that he wants Poppy. She is beautiful and intelligent and the only woman who has ever piqued his interest. One obstacle in his path, however, is the man who sent the love letter, Michael Bayning. Michael is the son of a viscount who would never allow him to marry a Hathaway, who came into their peerage only recently and are thought an oddity. So, that obstacle is easily removed when Harry takes the letter he found to the viscount, who predictably forbids Bayning from seeing Poppy. Harry then seals the deal by going to a ball where he finds the girl in question and, during an inopportune moment (or rather opportune for him), is discovered kissing her in a dark corner.
Now, Poppy must decide if she will escape to the country where she will undoubtedly lead a lonely and censured life, or she can marry Harry, a man she believes would make her a poor husband. Michael has already broken her heart by telling her they can never be together, so she knows that’s not a prospect anymore. Harry rather easily charms her into accepting and she starts to envision a potentially interesting future with him. But then she finds out the part he played in taking away the man she really loved and, while she still marries him, her hopes for any kind of a pleasant marriage are dashed. Thus begins a battle, with Harry trying to woo his wife into accepting him despite his horrid actions and Poppy simply trying to keep her distance and her anger intact.
One of the problems I had that crept throughout the book was the speed at which Harry falls for Poppy. We really know nothing of the characters when suddenly this man is kissing Poppy and already deciding that he wants her forever. Because it happens so fast, I had problems accepting the depth of Harry’s feelings, even though he makes some really romantic declarations. By the very end, I believed (mostly because all the angst and gushing was coming from him), but I had some difficulty understanding where the emotions were coming from or what they were based on for most of the book.
There were also some things that didn’t sit well with me. Poppy’s anger over Harry’s actions lasted for longer than I expected, given what I thought was her and Michael’s relationship. This anger was definitely present on their wedding night and, while she told Harry she wasn’t going to deny him, she was so mad and so clearly didn’t want to have sex with him, that there was a feel of forced seduction that I really didn’t like. Now, Harry eventually bows out because he so desperately wants her to accept him willingly, so that redeemed the situation a bit, but I was still uncomfortable. After another frustrating sexual encounter, Poppy makes what I feel is a very stupid decision which naturally infuriates Harry. After some secrets are revealed, however, Poppy completely changes her opinion of her husband and when he shows up they have a magical time together. The dramatic and easy shift in their relationship was a bit jarring, and that continued as Harry’s personality, or more accurately his actions, also change overnight.
Now, so far I’ve covered the bad, but the book was certainly better than average. I liked Harry quite a bit and his level of need for Poppy was really sweet. I also liked Poppy, despite her one foolish move. The other Hathaways and their significant others caught my interest and I do want to read their stories. In fact, this book ends with a hook that’s almost impossible to resist. So, Tempt Me at Twilight gets a recommendation from me, though I didn’t like it as much as some of Kleypas’s other works.