A Hathaway Review

It’s been forever since I last reviewed anything. But having just finished Lisa Kleypas’ wonderful Hathaway series (including book 2.5 A Hathaway Wedding), I just had to write this review!

I won’t bother with the plot. This review is for those who have read the series. It goes without saying that SPOILERS are lurking everywhere.

Favorite book: Love in the Afternoon
Favorite heroine: Beatrix
Favorite hero: Kev
Favorite couple: Win & Kev

So you see, there is a tie…

Sensuality rating for all books: Hot (according to All About Romance)

All excerpts from books © Lisa Kleypas All rights reserved

Click here to read some additions to this review.

FAVORITE BOOK: LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON

First off, my favorite book is Love in the Afternoon. It is a wonderful ending to the series and is worth reading the other books. I think one reason why I love this book so much is that the two characters fall in love with each other in the most endearing way. The letters Beatrix and Christopher exchange at the beginning are so heart rendering. I am rarely satisfied with the process of falling in love in historical romances. It always seems so rushed and perhaps that’s the reason why I prefer books where the hero and heroine are already in love (Seduce Me at Sunrise or Mary Balogh’s One Night for Love) or at least where there is an unrequited love (Madeline Hunter’s The Romantic) in question.

Consequently, I prefer it when the love-making scenes take place when the two characters are already in love, which was the case in this book. I find that the yearning and passion that the writing is trying to spark in you is deeper, making your heart skip and cheeks blush (Sometimes I wonder how I look like from afar when I am reading those scenes). The passion between Christopher and Beatrix is so tender. Beatrix being Beatrix, she just starts to undress despite Christopher’s protests. I love it that while she doesn’t play the shy virgin, she isn’t the seductress either. She simply doesn’t deny her passion and is not afraid to reach out to it.

“I understand.” Beatrix pulled the combs from her hair, tossed them into the pile of discarded lavender silk, and shook out the gleaming sable locks. And she gave him a look that caused every hair on his body to lift. “I know you think that I don’t understand, but I do. And I need this as much as you do.” Slowly she unhooked her corset and dropped it to the floor. – Chapter 20, Love in the Afternoon.

As for Christopher, I like him. He would be my second favorite hero if here were more prominently featured. His misfortune is that he appears at the end of the series so the reader doesn’t get to see much of him. But I really like him because he is like Kev, as pointed out in the book. He has had a traumatic experience and, as a result, he doesn’t value himself to be worthy of the one he loves. But his case is vastly different from Kev’s because he used to be a different man, a carefree and playful one. The two years he spent at war turned him into the tortured hero.

On the whole, the story develops nicely. The characters behave as they should and nothing seems out of place. You might think that everything plays out rather too smoothly. Beatrix and Christopher are already in love and they get married, so what could go wrong? This book shows that being in love and reunited is not the happy ending itself. Christopher still deals with his demons and Beatrix is too impatient to let him do so on his own. Since Christopher fears he might inadvertently hurt Beatrix, he tries to push her away, which makes her to feel ostracized and drives her to intrude more. But love overcomes all obstacles and everything is sorted out… Perhaps a bit too abruptly, though. The ending of the book catches you a bit off-guard, but it’s certainly not ridiculous. More about Hathaway endings, coming up.

FAVORITE HEROINE: BEATRIX HATHAWAY

Another reason why I like this book, as hinted above, is that Beatrix has always been my favorite Hathaway since the beginning. She is a child of nature. Observant, brave, lovable, wise and not bothered by rules of propriety because she lives by a different philosophy. She wears breeches, is not shy to talk about women’s unmentionables and is very straightforward. I am usually attracted to characters that harbor a contrast in character but in Beatrix’s case I love her because I envy her.

“As I sit here writing to you, I have propped my stocking feet much too close to the hearth. I’ve actually singed my stockings on occasion, and once I had to stomp out my feet when they started smoking. Even after that I can’t seem to rid myself of the habit. There, now you could pick me out of a crowd blindfolded. Simply follow the scent of scorched stockings.” – From Beatrix’s letter to Christopher, Chapter 3, Love in the Afternoon.

This is Beatrix pure and simple…

FAVORITE COUPLE: WIN & KEV

After stating that I like historical romances where the hero and the heroine are already in love with each other, it is hardly a surprise that my second favorite book in the series is Seduce Me at Sunrise. The way it started off was beautiful. Win confessing her love when Kev least expects it, the way she begs him to tell her the same words was just so heart wrenching.

“I love you,” she said wretchedly. “And if I were well, no power on earth could keep me away from you. If I were well, I would take you to my bed, and I would show you as much passion as any woman could.” – Chapter 1, Seduce Me At Sunrise.

There is something so touching with a woman desperately confessing her love, revealing her heart’s desires without shame. If only she were to start a kiss for a change… I like Win but she believes she can contend with a loveless marriage. That is understandable, though, because she wants a family more than anything since she has been deprived of things that other people take for granted for so long due to her illness. Which compels her to deceive Kev into believing that she is capable of giving birth. I would have preferred if she didn’t lie to him. She is portrayed as this honest, optimistic and loving saint and although it is emphasized that she hasn’t uttered a single lie in her lifetime before (except one time to save Kev’s life), it just wasn’t becoming of her.

Now, back to the couple… The impossibility of Kev and Win’s love, the yearning, the sexual tension between them throughout the book is conveyed very well, making the reader continue reading without stopping, wondering how Kev can be made to give in to his infinite longing. After hearing Win’s confession, Kev is shocked, yet at the same time filled with agony because he has conditioned himself that he can never have her to himself. When Win broaches the subject later in the book to understand just why they can’t be together, this is as close Kev gets as to provide an explanation.

“I have nothing to offer you,” he finally said in guttural voice. “Nothing.”

“You have yourself,” she whispered.

“You don’t know me. You think you do, but you don’t. The things I have done, the things I am capable of—you and your family, all you know of life comes from books. If you understood anything—“

“Make me understand. Tell me what is so terrible that you must keep pushing me away.”

He shook his head.

“Then stop torturing the both of us,” she said unsteadily. “Leave me, or let me go.”

“I can’t,” he snapped. “I can’t, damn you.” And before she could make a sound, he kissed her. – Chapter 11, Seduce Me At Sunrise.

Kev never explains himself fully to Win because his main purpose is to remain in the shadows and to protect her from afar while keeping her as far from him as possible. The one scene that gives the most insight about Kev’s suffering is in Mine Till Midnight in fact. Kev’s back is burned really bad from the fire at Ramsay House and Win cares for him just as he cared for her when she had scarlet fever. Now, caring for your loved one when he/she is ill is my weak spot. It is this one big fantasy I have for some unknown reason and I find such scenes so heart warming that I reread the passage until I memorize every word.

In this scene, Kev’s condition is grave but he has survived the worst. He is in physical pain, his pride is hurt because he can’t take care of himself, he is drugged all the time and Win is with him in his room, keeping vigil. Kev wakes up and Win moves to tend to him. I believe this scene displays the extent of Kev’s agony better than any in Seduce Me at Sunrise. I can’t describe what happens because I would in no way be able to do justice to the original.

“I must be in hell,” he muttered. Win smiled down at him with a tenderness he found unbearable. “You wouldn’t see me in hell, would you?”

“In my version… yes.”

Her smile turned quizzical, faded, and she laid his head carefully back on the bed.

Win would be featured prominently in Merripen’s hell. The most profound, gut-wrenching pain he had ever experienced was because of her—the agony of wanting and never having, of loving and never knowing love. And now it appeared he was going to endure more of it. Which would have made him hate her, if he didn’t worship her so. Bending over him, Win touched the bandage on his shoulder, beginning to untuck the end.

“No,” Merripen said harshly, moving away from her. He was naked beneath the covers, stinking of sweat and medicine. A huge, hulking beast. And even worse, dangerously vulnerable. If she continued touching him, tending him, his defenses would be smashed, and God knew what he would say or do. He needed her to go as far away from him as possible.

“Kev,” she said, her too-careful tone maddening him further, “I want to see the wound. It’s almost time to change the poultice. If you’ll just lie flat and let me—“

“Not you.”

Lie flat. As if that were even possible, with the roaring erection that had sprung to life as soon as she had touched him. He was nothing more than an animal, wanting her this way even when he was ill and filthy and still drugged from morphine… even knowing that to make love to her was like signing her death warrant. Had he been a prayerful man, he would have begged the pitiless heavens never to let Win know what he wanted or how he felt. – Chapter 20, Mine Till Midnight.

There is another such scene, which happens before as a prelude to the one above even. Kev isn’t himself because of the laudanum he was given for the pain. He tells Win to stay away from his dreams because he can’t sleep. And then he reaches to her and kisses her. Kissed for the first time in her life, Win doesn’t know quite what to do. She moves her arms to embrace him and stops abruptly when Kev winces in pain. She sets to apologizing but there is no response from Kev. The next thing you know, he has fallen asleep with his head lying on her breasts. It’s as if his desires were fulfilled in his dream and he could finally fall asleep peacefully. Only that it’s not a dream.

Frankly those scenes were the best thing about Mine Till Midnight. Cam/Amelia fans, please take no offense. However, as a negative criticism to Kev and Win’s portrayal in this book, I found it odd that Win doesn’t give any indication that she loves Kev. And she seems ignorant of Kev’s feelings. So it actually appears incoherent when she confesses her love to him in chapter one of Seduce Me at Sunrise. Am I the only one who has noticed this and is bothered by it?

Going back to the couple’s own book, Kev is finally brought to his senses in a very unusual way in Seduce Me at Sunrise. Presumably with great difficulty, Leo talks about his long lost love, which is forbidden territory known to everyone, and that seems to do the trick. I’m not crazy over Leo unlike many fans of the Hathaway series, but I liked that he was the one who convinced Kev to make his move. It was unexpectedly fitting.

FAVORITE HERO: KEV MERRIPEN

I find Kev to be a very complex character. He has worshiped Win with his whole being since the first time he saw her when he was brought to the Hathaway house, almost dying of his injuries. For Kev, Win is the perfect picture of an angel. She is pure goodness, fragile and otherworldly.

He had always handled Win with a sort of exaggerated gentleness, as if she would blow away like dandelion floss. – Chapter 18, Mine Till Midnight.

Basically, she is everything Kev is not. Kev sees himself as a savage Gypsy brute with no future to offer her, the complete opposite of the gentlemen she deserves. He carries scars from his past that he deems too crude for his delicate “butterfly under glass.” He has resolved to carry her in his heart forever and devoted his life to protecting her.

“All the fires of hell could burn for a thousand years and it wouldn’t equal to what I feel for you in one minute of the day. I love you so much there is no pleasure in it. Nothing but torment. Because if I could dilute what I feel for you to the millionth part, it would still be enough to kill you. And even if it drives me mad, I would rather see you live in the arms of that cold, soulless bastard than die in mine.” – Chapter 13, Seduce Me at Sunrise.

He is certainly not someone I can relate to but, being a tortured hero, his suffering is so moving. When you think about his qualities, he is a wonderful guy. Kind, gentle, caring, protective… These qualities aren’t exclusive to Win but to all the Hathaways. I remember him trying to comfort Beatrix after she had been expelled from finishing school and shocking everyone by muttering endearments in Romany since he rarely speaks it. He has a strong sense of justice and a big heart overflowing with a love that he struggles to contain throughout his life. He lives one with nature and therefore is very able. He is also very intelligent and insightful not to mention big, strong and exotically handsome. Yet, he doesn’t value anything in himself because he can’t forgive the atrocities of the beast he had been turned into when he was living with his tribe.

So when Kev finally decides to succumb to his love, does he forgive himself? I’m not sure… I think his past still haunts him but it goes without seeing that he feels better when he’s with Win. She has had this inexplicable power over him ever since they met.

The scene where Kev recalls the memory of a discussion on Greek mythology is highly enlightening about his adoration for Win. In the myth, Hades, the god of the underworld kidnaps the maiden Persephone and drags her down to his dark lair to possess her. While all the Hathaway sisters agree that Hades is the villain, Kev secretly empathizes with him.

But Kev had understood exactly why the underworld god had stolen Persephone for his bride. He had wanted a little bit of sunshine, of warmth, for himself, down the cheerless gloom of his dark palace. – Chapter 3, Seduce Me at Sunrise.

It’s as if Win has this healing force that cures Kev of his self-hatred little by little. Perhaps that’s why Kev is so taken with her. Or perhaps, as Kev would most probably believe, it’s simply fate.

FAVORITE THING TO DO: RAMBLING EVEN MORE

Although Seduce Me at Sunrise is my second favorite book in the series, I can’t seem to stop talking about it, huh?

Apart from Kev and Win’s story, I love Seduce Me at Sunrise because we witness the Hathaways’ past before their parents were dead and before the scarlet fever struck Win and Leo. One of the things that always wins me over is when the author gives background information to the main story after the latter has been developing for a while and Ms. Kleypas did an excellent job in the first few chapters. I was delighted to see the merriness of Hathaway household and to witness how each sibling turned out to be the way they are.

However… Despite the heartwarming stories and vibrant well-written characters, I have a problem with the endings of almost all of the books in this series. It’s just that when villains are one dimensional, they just don’t work for me. Take Julian Harrow from Seduce Me at Sunrise for example. He is rumored to have poisoned his late wife, which later turns out to be true. BUT are we given any explanation as to why? No! And suddenly he emerges as this villain and the reader quickly forgets that he actually cured Win of the aftereffects of scarlet fever. Pity, because Seduce Me at Sunrise was perfect until that moment. The ending of Mine Till Midnight was just as bad. Ghosts? Really? An imposter who pretended to like Amelia just to get his hands on a treasure in Ramsay House? Come on… The endings of the other books weren’t as bad as these two. In Married by Morning, Catherine’s aunt, who was forced to sell her body since she was a child, is almost not a one-dimensional villain even.

Before ending this review, I want to say a few more words concerning Leo, who is perhaps the most popular Hathaway. He is funny, witty, charming, handsome and irresistibly alluring in his cynicism. Everyone loves this guy. He is the classic arrogant, notorious, carefree and dangerously seductive rake, which is definitely not the portrait of my kind of hero. But there is a reason why he turned out that way. I tend to think of Leo as the dashing historical romance hero who didn’t get his happy end. See, Leo has already gone through everything that the other characters do in their individual books only to watch the love of his life die in his arms.

Hell was not a pit of fire and brimstone. Hell was waking up alone, the sheets wet with your tears and your seed, knowing the woman you had dreamed of would never come back to you. – Chapter 16, Seduce Me at Sunrise.

But one can’t help but like this guy if not love him. During the moments when he reveals his suffering and emptiness, he becomes this astonishingly well-developed character. I love the scene where a troubled Poppy knocks on his door in the middle of the night and he tries to comfort his little sister by even discussing the particulars of the marriage bed. They use symbols and Leo does sweat a little bit but at that moment he truly becomes a big brother.

And when Leo accepts that he is in love with Catherine, he doesn’t run away from it. Knowing that if he loses again the one woman he loves, he can’t continue living for real this time and he even says so while he tries to save Catherine. This quote is probably one of the favorites of all fans of the Hathaway series.

“Please come to me, Cat, because there’s no surviving you. You don’t have to love me back. You don’t have to be mine. Just let me be yours.” – Chapter 31, Married by Morning.

Finally, after reading all five books, I realized that I immensely enjoy Leo’s moments. Of course, he is most famous with his (usually dark) humor and, unsurprisingly, the one moment where I actually laughed out loud while reading the books was thanks to Leo. His reaction after Christopher declares intention to marry Beatrix is priceless.

Christopher shook his head. “If I decide to marry Beatrix, I’ll do it with or without your consent.”

Leo looked at Cam. “Good God,” he said in disgust. “This one’s worse than Harry!” – Chapter 18, Love in the Afternoon.

Speaking of Harry… I really don’t like the I-always-have-my-way-no-matter-what kind of heroes. But Harry is a man deprived of love his entire life and watching him learn to love and get used to being loved was delightful.

“Would you say that you’re a good man, Harry?”

He had to think about that. “No,” he finally said. “In the fairy tale you mentioned last night, I would probably be the villain. But it’s possible the villain would probably treat you far better than the prince would have.” – Chapter 11, Tempt Me at Twilight.

One final point… I think Cam and Amelia are overrated. Don’t get me wrong, I love them both. It’s just they are so perfectly ordinary historical romance characters, perhaps apart from the fact that Cam is a Gypsy. But they are always in the limelight. They always get the more parts than other characters in other books. It’s obvious that Ms. Kleypas loves them so much but I am just not that taken by them. Or perhaps they are just eclipsed by my love for other characters.

On the whole, reading the Hathaway series was great fun. The characters, descriptions, dialogues were all witty and well-written. It’s everything I expected of a light read. Each book filled me with emotion and kept me hooked on the story. I literally couldn’t stop reading. And now that I’ve read them all, I’m still not over the “now what?” feeling. Though I guess, I’ll take a break from Ms. Kleypas’s books before starting the Wallflower series. I recommend the Hathaways to everyone in the mood for a sweeping, intriguing and utterly melting romance.

Lastly, I thought it would be handy to share a list of Beatrix’s comparison of each character with an animal for future reference for the fans of the series.

Amelia: hen Cam: fox
Win: swan Kev: horse
Poppy: rabbit Harry: cat
Leo: lion Catherine: hedgehog
Beatrix: ferret Christopher: fox
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