The lady has it going on, former beauty queen, happily married, best selling author. Oh, and she can write. I mean REALLY write.
I am recent convert to the romance genre, hadn't read her at all until a blog buddy recommended her. This summer I picked up second hand copies of Suddenly You and Mine Till Midnight.
I was immediately struck by a few things, the heroes are ALL fantastic. I have read 6 of her books so far and haven't come across a dud hero yet. Astoundingly masculine, handsome, virile men with various levels of torture haunting their very steps.
And passionate, with stamina that is beyond earthly possibilities. Well, this is fantasy. But its the writing, smooth, flowing, weaving expertly in and out between various intriguing plots. Threading them together tightly like a fine piece of embroidery.
But also what is engaging about her books are the very strong secondary characters. They could have their own books, and some of them have (Like the Hathaway family). Which is a nice segue into my first review:
AGAIN THE MAGIC
Avon Historical Romance 400 pages
Jan 2004 By Lisa Kleypas.
BLURB ON BACK OF BOOK:
She gave him her innocence . . .Lady Aline Marsden was brought up for one reason: to make an advantageous marriage to a member of her own class. Instead, she willingly gave her innocence to John McKenna, a servant on her father's estate. Their passionate transgression was unforgivable -- John was sent away, and Aline was left to live in the countryside . . . an exile from London society . . .and he took her love.
Now McKenna has made his fortune, and he has returned -- more boldly handsome and more mesmerizing than before. His ruthless plan is to take revenge on the woman who shattered his dreams of love. But the magic between them burns as bright as ever. And now he must decide whether to let vengeance take its toll . . . or risk everything for his first, and only, love.
Sound familiar? It's a chunk sliced right off of 'Wuthering Heights'. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I admit I did roll my eyes when I read the back cover. But as soon as I read the first sentence, I was hooked. "A stable boy wasn't supposed to speak to an Earl's daughter, much less climb up her bedroom window." Now THAT is a hook. John McKenna is the stable boy in question, childhood friends, sexual maturity has certainly ramped up the attraction between these older teens.
At 18, John McKenna is darkly handsome, already almost 6 feet tall, it is no wonder our heroine Aline Marsden is so taken with him. Nothing sends shivers up her spine than having McKenna's calloused, large hands roving her body. The young couple are truly in love. And as so, doomed.
Aline's father finds out, incensed, he is going to punish the boy (her father's words, 'a miserable and torturous end') and banish him, until Aline agrees to reject him if her father sees to it he is placed in an apprenticeship somewhere far away. Aline faces McKenna, coolly and cruelly rejecting him, saying his lowly status means they can never be together, she cannot and will not accept him. McKenna is crushed, and leaves the estate immediately. That very night, Aline is involved in an almost fatal accident.
Fast forward 12 years, And John McKenna returns, (much like Heathcliff did in Wuthering Heights) from America, rich and successful. And bent on revenge. His plan? seduce Aline, then reject her, as she did him so long ago. Like I said, these heroes are passionate if nothing else.
Now enter the strong secondary characters, McKenna brings his partner, Gideon Shaw, a golden God who happens to drink and indulge in other vices far too often for his own good. This character could easily had a book of his own, he was fascinating. Troubled, cynical and with many demons nipping at his heels, he soon casts an eye towards Aline's sister, Livia, who has been cloistered away from society due to a scandal involving her late fiance. Any lapses in the main plot is more than filled by this beautifully touching secondary story that Kleypas gives juicy attention to. I loved Gideon and Livia.
McKenna meanwhile, for all his fist clenching silent pronouncements of revenge, finds the spark is still there between them, Aline feels it too, but she has her own reasons to be cloistered away from society. There are some truly heartbreaking moments, and when the characters at last are honest with each other, I defy you not to tear up.
Also a mention, Aline's brother, Marcus, described as average height and mostly average looks, was also fascinating, I hear he has his own book (It Happened One Autumn) I hope to read it sometime.
3 and 3/4 stars out of 4
KOVER KUDOS: Ah, do not like the front cover, the model looks as through she is wrapped in a carpet. The stepback however (or inside cover) is lovely, The shirtless, tall, dark haired model more than fits the description of McKenna. Oh yeah, the female model is ok too, LOL!
2 and 3/4 out of 4.
LADY SOPHIA'S LOVER
Avon Historical Romance 384 pages
June 2002 By Lisa Kleypas
BLURB ON BACK OF BOOK:
Why is Lady Sophia looking for a lover?
And could she seduce the most marriageable man in London?
Lady Sophia Sydney would do anything to ensnare the unattainable Sir Ross Cannon. Her goal -- to ruin his reputation and cause a scandal that would be the talk of all London. So she insinuates herself into his life by gaining his trust and living in his house.
Every morning, her lush presence tempts him beyond all reason...the way she bends over the table to serve him the meals she has prepared...the way her hands oh, so gently -- yet sensuously -- brush against him. Every night, she promises with her eyes -- and her body --that the hours before dawn could be spent in unbridled passion instead of restless sleep -- if only he'd let her share his bed.
She knows he is falling more in love with her each day. But she never counted on falling in love with him. And she never dreamed he might very respectably ask for her hand in marriage...~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I LOVED this book. Sir Ross Cannon (The hero) seduced me fully and thoroughly. From the first sentence, "It had been too long since he bedded a woman." Again, great hook. This is a highly sensual read.
Sir Ross is a widower, closed off, a lone wolf, living and breathing his work as a magistrate and defacto leader of the infamous Bow Street Runners. (London's precursor to the Metropolitan Police) Also referred to behind his back as the 'Monk of Bow Street' due to his self-imposed celibacy since his wife's demise. I adored this look behind the Bow Street Runners, there are two other books in the series, I will certainly be checking them out.
Back to this book. Enter the heroine, Lady Sophia Sydney, daughter of a viscount who has fallen on hard times, she finagles a position at the home and office of Ross with one thing in mind, revenge. The attraction between them is immediate, much to Sophia's chagrin, as Ross Cannon was the magistrate that banished her 14 year old brother to serve a sentence on a prison ship, where he met his demise. Sophia would gain access to his files, use information to ruin him, but more, she would seduce him, make him fall in love with him, and bring his world down around his ears.
Right. The more Sophia works and lives alongside Sir Ross, the more she sees what a compassionate man he is in dealing with his own men and the victims of crimes. Not what she had envisioned at all. And, how can she resist the pull of him, the tall, dark handsome virile man that is Sir Ross? I couldn't. She soon finds herself liking him, even his quirks of character.
Ross' family is another matter. Again, strong characters, well defined.
His brother Matthew is a surly rake. A married one, but that does not stop him from trying to get Sophia into his bed. He was rather easy to dislike, but by the end of the book, one got a feeling he might be able to improve. Well-rounded characters.
Of course, there is the tried and true 'care for him when he is sick' thing, that brings them closer together, until they can no longer deny their passions. So much for revenge.
A very neat plot twist arises, and resolved satisfactorily.
I actually liked Sophia, because I usually am not too fond of some of the heroines I read, she had struggled with her poverty, and risen above it, and proved to be an able help mate to Ross.
But yes, what sold this book for me was Sir Ross Cannon. What a hero. Dashing, honorable, passionate. Brave. It is why I gave this such a high rating. I defy you not to fall for Sir Ross.
JMO, but here it goes, I am giving my first 4 star rating.
4 out of 4 stars.
KOVER KUDOS: Kind of bland. I *think* there was a stepback at one time (a small picture on the spine of the book reflects that) but not with this edition. 1 and 1/2 out of 4.