Title: Seduce me at Sunrise
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Genre: Historical Romance
Stand Alone/ Series: The second in The Hathaways series
Summary: Win has been an invalid ever since she suffered a near-fatal case of scarlet fever. Merripen is a Romany Gypsy who was taken in by the Hathaway family when he was a boy. He has always kept his fierce passion for Win a secret, believing a romantic relationship would never be possible.
But Win goes to an exclusive clinic, far away from Merripen and the rest of her family, and makes a remarkable recovery. And when she returns two years later, a changed woman, the explosive passion between these long-denied lovers threatens their family, their future, and even their lives . . .
Why did I read the book: Win and Merripen were secondary characters in Mine Till Midnight and they completely stole the show with their longing for each other – I have been waiting for their story ever since.
“Kev loved her. Not in the way that novelists and poets described. Nothing so tame. He loved her beyond earth, heaven, or hell. Every moment out of her company was agony; every moment with her was the only peace he had ever known. Every touch of her hands left an imprint that ate down to his soul. He would have killed himself before admitting it to anyone. The truth was buried deep in his heart. Kev did not know if Win loved him in return. All he knew was that he didn’t want her to”
There are some love stories that are so powerful they leap from the pages and beg to be told. Kev and Win’s is one of those – a pair of secondary characters that first appeared in Mine Till Midnight, Amelia Hathaway and Cam Rohan’s story. In all honesty, I somewhat enjoyed Mine till Midnight but I didn’t think it was the best Lisa Kleypas offering. At least not when it came to the central couple – my favorite parts of Mine Till Midnight were the ones about Win and Kev. They completely stole the show with their love that could never be.
She: Amelia’s invalid sister who never fully recovered from Scarlet Fever and who loves the strong and powerful Kev; He: the Roma who had been adopted by the family when he was a child and was completely, utterly devoted to Win, even if it means to keep away from her. Every single scene when they were together spoke of a longing and the promise of a beautiful love story – one that I have been waiting for since I read Mine Till Midnight.
Seduce me at Sunrise opens and we learn that Win is about to leave on a journey to France to try a new treatment for her illness. She is sick and tired of being an invalid and believes this is what keeps her and Kev from getting together. She wants to get well and she wants to enjoy life and she wants him. Kev, even though loving Win with every bit of his heart ever since they were children, believes himself unworthy of her – his soul being too dark from the violent things he have done when still living with his tribe and her being too radiant to be tarnished by his. It kills him, but he thinks she deserves better, a gentle soul of a gentleman. She wants him to wait for her, wants him to be there for her – and he will be but only as a friend. So she leaves.
And we then go back twelve years in the past to learn how the Hathaways rescued Kev (beaten up and close to death), after his tribe left him behind and how he came to fall in love with Win. I absolutely loved these chapters that showed the connection between these souls. Kev behaves and feels like a wild dog, savage, broken. Prepared to leave at first opportunity, as soon as his body recovered but there is one moment that changes everything. He feels Win’s presence outside his bedroom and is restless until she finally comes inside to tend to him – that moment seals their destiny. It is quite simply, a case of Soul Mates, sharing a deep connection, the dark and the light that become friends and he chooses to stay because of her. It is very reminiscent of the Cathy-Heathcliff relationship in Wuthering Heights – there are things that are set in stone, there is no reasonable explanation, they just are. This is the case of Kev and Win.
It was heart wrenching to read all the scenes regarding the bout of scarlet fever that consumed Win – the despair on her part to get him away from her so that he wouldn’t fall ill and his despair and his decision not to leave her side and to nurse her back to life. Some of the best, most gut-wrecking scenes of agonising love when Kev breaths the same air coming out of her lungs because if she has to leave, he will follow suit. My dear friends, this just about killed me.
And yet, the stubborn man who is prepared to die for the woman, refuses to live with her. And so we go the future, to two years after Win has gone to France, when she finally comes back home. Body restored, prepared to live and with her, she brings a suitor, Dr Harrow, the man who helped her recover and who is prepared to ask for her hand. Kev agonises when he learns she has someone but since it is his choice not pursuit their love, he has to live with it. Except is easier said than done.
From that moment on it is just really a matter of how and when Kev would eventually let his stubbornness subside and realise he could not go on denying both of them their happiness. Win, one of those quietly strong heroines, is bent on the pursuit of her own happiness and she pushes Kev’s buttons and calls him on his arrogance on the unfairness of he being the one to decide their fates. But even if she realises theirs is one of those once in a lifetime love, she won’t be sitting around waiting for him, she wants a family of her own. And by gawd, she will have it. Sick and tired to be worshiped from afar, she wants everything she can get from him and when he finally relents she learns that she was never on a pedestal and he shows her just how much he too, wants everything from her, heart, soul, mind and body. And it is so.very.good.
But as much as this is a wonderful love story, there are also some secondary plots that were quite endearing. With this second book, I have come to love the Hathaways as a family and to look forward to their interactions. There are a few scenes between Cam and Kev and between Kev and Leo (the Hathaways brother) that are full of camaraderie and some between Cam and Amelia that I thought were better than their scenes in their own book. I think it is also worth mentioning that there is a otherworldliness to this series that comes from its connection with the gypsy world (curses, ghosts, Coincidences with a capital C) that adds a supernatural feel without really being a complete foray into paranormal area.
The only minor issue I had with the book comes from what I have come to call The Curse of the Romance Novel where we have, towards the end of a novel, a too villainous villain doing villainous acts and a care-bear resolution that wraps every single thing with pink cellophane paper with purple polka dots and rainbows – thank the gods it’s Lisa Kleypas writing which makes everything better. But even if the ending is not to my particular taste, still Kev and Win’s love is stuff for legends and with Kev, Lisa Kleypas has yet another wonderful hero that I am sure, will be making the rounds in top 10s henceforth.
Notable quotes/ Parts:
Kev’s love for Win clearly borders obsession but something needs to be said for these heroes that would do anything for their heroines. Damn me if I don’t love him -specially since he reminds me so much of Heathcliff.
“I’m not good enough for you. But no one is. And most men, good or bad, have limits to what they would do, even for someone they love. I have none. No God, no moral code, no faith in anything. Expect you. You’re my religion. I would do anything you asked. I would fight, steal, kill for you. I would…
“shhh.Hush. My goodness.” She sounded breathless. “There’s no need to break all the commandments, Kev.”
And later on, after he finally capitulates, there is an AMAZING inner speech about his love for her. I won’t spoil the whole thing but it ends like this:
“I love you for being the answer to every question my heart could ask”
So terribly romantic.
Additional Thoughts: a secondary plotline which started in Mine Till Midnight is Leo Hathaway’s. In that first book, Leo is going through hell after the death of his beloved. Drunk, not caring about anything, deep in despair. In Seduce me at Sunrise, Leo is starting to recover, becoming more centred and I have the feeling we have been introduced to his heroine, none other than the girls’ stern new governess who dislikes him at first sight (or does she) and whom he has repartees with.
There is also one scene that I thought was absolutely brilliant. Leo is trying to get through to Kev and they have a talk. Leo tells Kev that he knows that when Leo and Win fell ill all those years ago with the same disease that killed Leo’s fiancée, Laura and Kev ministered an unusual medicine as a last attempt to save their lives :
“(…) you would have taken the rest of that poison. And I’ve always hated you for that. Because you forced me to stay alive without the woman I loved, while you had no bloody intention of doing the same”
and then he shows an insightful side and says:
“if you had the bollocks to die with her, don’t you think you could work up the courage to live with her?”
Needless to say Leo’s book can not come soon enough. I really want to see how Lisa Kleypas will have him finding love again.
Verdict: Win and Kev’s love story reminded me of Wuthering Heights, one of my all-time favourite novels: their love was gripping, unrelenting and eternal. It should come as no surprise that Lisa Kleypas has another winner in her hands.
Rating: 9, damn near perfection
Reading next: A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas