Book: Love in the Afternoon
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Publisher: St. Martin’s
Rating: 3.5 Stars
The overwhelming theme to Kleypas’ Love in the Afternoon is sweetness cloaked with little surprise and guided by Kleypas’ steady hand. The romantic unfolding of an unconventional woman with an affinity for animals, and a battle-weary soldier home from the Crimea conjured up some early Gaelen Foley. In Foley’s Lord of Fire and Lord of Ice her male heroes are ex war-heroes now spies haunted with the horrors they have faced in war.
This is not so much the case with Kleypas’ Captain Christopher Phelan. His aspirations are not over-reaching. His only desire is to return to the life he left (if he can still do so) and the woman he left behind before the war tore his world asunder. He is still haunted by the horrors he had to face in the war, particularly one incident where he had to make a choice to save a commanding officer over his best friend. Those ghosts have hardened his heart in such a way that he has arrived home to his family seat broken, with only a few tattered love letters (written by the wrong woman) and a war dog he clings to.
Kleypas has provided a strong conflict for her characters to overcome, the ghosts of war and the romantic prejudice he harbors towards Beatrix Hathaway. But there is still room for love in some unbroken corner of his heart. The only problem is-he is in love with the wrong woman.
The case of mistaken identity through the letters written between Christopher and Beatrix is enchanting, and warmly romantic. Love in the Afternoon will appeal greatly to those readers who desire a sweetly uncomplicated romantic read, even though the passion and plot is a bit thin. Kleypas’ focus is clearly on Beatrix and Christopher, and their bittersweet path to a happily ever after. Even though the story gives readers what they want I could not help but hunger for a surprise here and there and perhaps some more staying power.
The arrival of Lieutenant Mark Bennett, Christopher Phelan’s best friend who was left for dead on the battlefield should have had more impact in the story, and in a way, his arrival fizzles out-tempered in such a way that it barely elicits a response. There should have been more punctuation, more danger with his anger directed at Christopher.
The highlight of his arrival is that Kleypas hints that there is going to be future adventures with Christopher Phelan’s sister-in-law Audrey Phelan and Lieutenant Bennett. I definitely would be interested in reading that story when it comes along.
All in all, I enjoyed Love in the Afternoon, but by comparison to her other works, I found it a bit lacking.
I am a big fan of Lisa Kleypas and started off reading her historical romances-favorites being Stranger in my Arms and Mine to Midnight. But above all, when Kleypas started writing contemporary romance I had no idea what I was missing. To this day Smooth Talking Stranger and Blue Eyed Devil reside on my all-time lifetime favorite reads list. I am still waiting for Joe’s story!
A Fiendishly Bookish Review (and one grumpy cat)