Sunday, October 7, 2007

Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas

I've read a lot of Kleypas books although rarely in order and always on loan from my local library. Thinking back, I believe the first book of hers that I read was Lady Sophia's Lover which I picked up from the Peace Corps hostel book shelf. As I've often said, during my time in Africa I read a lot of books that I may not have otherwise done, simply because of the lack of choice. However, I remember really enjoying this one and making a mental note to check out more of the author's backlist when I got back to the States.

The Wallflower series I read in a mixed up order. My first book of the group was Sebastian and Evie's story, so I have always had a soft spot in my heart for them. Unlike others, I didn't have to get over the "bad guy" image of Sebastian since I didn't know about his shenanigans in the previous book when I read his story. Still, after reading the whole series, I like him. Something about that smooth bad-boy image...I don't know. Anyways, I digress. What I'm getting to is that I was very much looking forward to the story of Cam Rohan, the half-Gyspy factotum of Jenner's gambling club. I was disappointed at first when Daisy ended up with another guy, but now after reading Mine Till Midnight I think I can forgive Kleypas. Amelia and Cam fit together in a way that I don't think he would have with Daisy. And besides, he gets to play the hero and use his not-looked-for fortune to help her and her family.

As I said when I started this little blog, I can't do reviews all that well. I'll try to get a quick sketch of the storyline and then explain what worked and didn't work for me. In brief, Amelia is the oldest sister in a family that seems to be lower upper class. Sister Win has recently recovered from scarlet fever but is still an invalid. Younger sisters Poppy and Beatrix are in the mid and upper teens. The family also has a Gypsy connection (how convenient since Amelia is fated to fall in love with one!) in a young man named Merripen who has lived as a sort of servant/adjunt half-brother in their household for years. Amelia's brother just inherited a title which was unexpected given the fact that he wasn't in direct line. There is some mention about ill luck to the holder of said title, but this isn't really explored. The brother, Leo, is constantly getting himself into trouble, gambling, wenching, etc. generally being the stereotypical romance novel heroine's brother. This gives us the setup for Amelia and Cam to meet while she and Merripen search for her brother in the gaming hells. While I don't mind at all the coincidence of their meeting, what did irk me just a tiny bit was the instant connection that Cam makes to Amelia. It's as if in the moment he lays eyes on her, he lusts after her, knows there is something special about her, feels that he has some sort of a claim to her. Not that there's anything wrong with this; again it's a pretty standard romance novel device. But maybe I was just hoping for something a little less usual.

One thing leads to another and Cam and Amelia share a passionate kiss. (Thinking back to Cam's encounter with Daisy, I think he has a thing for sharing kisses with beautiful strangers and then disappearing from their lives. Capitalizing on his mysterious Gypsy reputation? hmm.) I will say that Kleypas knows how to write about kissing. She makes you feel the romance and the tenderness that can be evoked in something as simple as a kiss. Come to think of it, Cam and Amelia don't move on to second base for quite some time in the book and it still feels very hot and passionate. So she gets kudos from me for that aspect of the writing.

Oh yeah, the plot. Where was I? Amelia and family move out to the country estate that came along with Leo's new title. It's falling down all over the place and there is an interesting scene in which an entire wall has a huge bee hive inside it. Amelia's terror of bees resonated with me because I share the same unreasoning petrification at the sight of one. I wish I had had a big handsome Gypsy come upon me in my fright and comfort me in his arms. *sigh* Oh well, it does make for a nice fantasy. Why is Cam suddenly out there in the country? Well, this is a romance novel so it just so happens that the estate of Lord Westcliff (from previous Wallflower fame) is adjacent. Cam and Sebastian are visiting, so it all works out very well. Cam and Amelia get to know each other better. They share more secret kisses. Romance ensues. Still, Cam feels that he needs to get back to his Gyspy roots and give up living in society while Amelia feels that she can never trust another man with her heart (there is a little back story about her and some other guy who dumped her for a more advantageous match.) Cam has all this money; Amelia has a poor family with a wastrel brother and an estate that needs money. And they're dynamite together. Really, what are they waiting for?

Ok, so everyone knows what happens in the end. Cam decides he doesn't need his freedom all that much and he seduces Amelia. More hotness ensues and they move from kissing all the way to love-making in the moonlight in the space of an evening. I found Cam to be a very romantic hero. He falls for Amelia much quicker than she for him and he doesn't seem all to nervous about showing his affection for her. I found that refreshing. While I could understand Amelia's initial reluctance to accept his offer of marriage, after a while, I found her stubbornness just a little annoying. Ok, ok, I get it. She had a bad experience with love and she likes her independence, but come on! Hot gypsy lover boy with money to burn who loves you to bits and you don't want him just so you can prove a personal point to yourself? whatever. Anyways, last bits of the book are where it fumbles around a little. There is a random mystery bad guy plot that feels a little thrown in as well as a hint of the paranormal which just felt out of place. But the emotions between Cam and Amelia were what worked well and the setup for Merripen and Amelia's sister Win were very compelling. Also, as a bonus, you get to spend more time with Westcliff, St. Ives, Evie and Lillian but they don't feel like they're intruding TOO much on the main character's story. Sebastian, in particular, has such a delicious sense of humor and wit that I wanted him around more.

In summary, it's a good book written by an author who clearly knows her craft. Despite the slight missteps with the ending, it was a very emotionally satisfying read that left a smile on my face. So I give it a B+.


Kristie (J) said...

Sula: I'm at work so I don't have a chance really to read your review but I saw that you've joined the romance blogging world!! I just had to stop by and said Howdy and Welcome.
I'll be back when I get home - after my thanksgiving lasagna - long story.
But again - It's good see yu've started a blog. They are a lot of fun!

sula said...

Why thank you, Kristie! It's very nice of you to stop by. AND you are my very first commenter, so you just put a big happy grin on my face. lol. Hope that work goes well and that you enjoy that lasagna. Look forward to sharing thoughts on MTM and other books. As for blogging, I can already see that I am going to find lots more excuses not to do my homework. haha!

Kristie (J) said...

I'm home now after my Thanksgiving lasagna dinner - trying to make this short - I asked my youngest son, Ryan to make Thanksgiving dinner since I'm working all weekend (blech!). The oldest one, Brent hates turkey and said if Rayn made turkey, he wouldn't go. So I suggested lasagna since Ryan is quite proud of his lasagna. And it was very good. Then at the end of the meal (and my sister who was also there and I both knew this) Ryan asked Brent how he liked it. Brent had almost licked the plate clean. Ryan then told him he used ground turkey. 'Twas quite amusing.
Anyway - back to MTM - good review. I give it pretty much the same grade too.
And of course - you may guess this next question *g*. Have you ever read Dreaming of You? It's no secret it's my favourite of her books, although many come very close.
So - what's my prize for being the first commenter?

heh heh just kidding. I'm glad you've joined the ranks. And it is a great excuse to not do what we should do. I started my blog to avoid looking for a job. Of course I did eventuall start the job hunting and eventually found one I love - except for working all weekend on long holiday weekends. That bites a bit.

sula said...

haha, that's a cute story! I love substituting ground turkey for beef in just about everything. No one usually notices and it is so much healthier. *g*

I look forward to reading your MTM review. It was a very enjoyable book, and I can see myself reading it again. And yes, I have read Dreaming of You. Derek Craven is one of those heros you can't forget, isn't he? Like I said in the North and South thread, Mr. Thornton with his non-posh accent and industrialist self-made ways really puts me in mind of a typical Kleypas hero. (so now of course I am compelled to go back and reread some of her novels with Richard Armitage firmly in my head. *g*)

I wish I had cool prizes to give out, but seems that all I have for now is words. lol. If there ever is any good swag, you'll be on the top of the list. Well, seeing as you are the ONLY commenter so far, you ARE the list. bwahaha.

Happy thanksgiving, btw.