With the third book in Kleypas’ Hathaway series, the author hits a high note. The pairing of Poppy Hathaway and wealthy American hotelier Harry Rutledge is so much more believable to me than the stories of Poppy’s older sisters, Amelia and Win and their Rom husbands, Cam and Merripen. While Amelia’s story, Mine Till Midnight was good, I found the next in the series, Seduce Me at Sunrise, a tougher sell. With Tempt Me At Twilight, I just sat back and enjoyed the ride.
Poppy and her unconventional family are in London for what is Poppy’s third London season and finally, she is having some success in finding a husband. They are guests at the Rutledge Hotel, owned by the enigmatic and mysterious Mr. Rutledge. When Poppy gets lost chasing down a family pet and meets Harry Rutledge, he doesn’t let on who he is, but his identity soon becomes clear. What also becomes clear is that Harry will stop at nothing to make Poppy his wife. She’s in love with another man, but with some interesting machinations, she winds up as Harry’s bride. Unfortunately, Poppy finds it difficult to forgive Harry for his perfidy, and it takes a lot of work, on both their parts, to make something of the marriage.
The best part of Lisa Kleypas’ stories are her secondary characters and their importance to the main characters’ relationships. Kleypas uses the hotel staff as the means to get Poppy and Harry on the same page in their marriage. Each hotel character is engaging and adds rather than detracts from the story. She does the same thing with Poppy’s family. Her brother Leo has some sort of antagonistic relationship with Poppy’s companion, Catherine Marks. Cat also has ties to Harry. As a plot device, all of these secondary characters (especially Miss Marks) give us an insight into why Harry is the way he is; unable to offer love and afraid to accept it in return. All of this is resolved to this reader’s satisfaction when Poppy forgives Harry and he, in turn, learns what it means to stop controlling and start loving. It’s a wonderful transformation to watch.
I cannot wait to read Leo and Catherine’s story, and after that, the younger Hathaway sister Beatrix’s. What started out as a “spin-off” from an earlier series has turned out to be a wonderful collection in its own right.