New favorite! (with caveats) I’d never read Lisa Kleypas before but I’m aware she’s a pretty big name and this series came highly recommended on Goodreads. I believe it’s her most recently published historical romance (she writes contemporary as well). The series follows an eccentric family in the 1850s, four sisters and one brother who’ve happily grown up in the lesser gentry class, until the brother inherits a title through a distant relation and they find themselves at odds with the high society they’re now expected to enter.
Married by Morning is the fourth in the series; the hero is the brother, and the heroine is the governess/paid companion/etiquette tutor to his two younger sisters. They have a cantankerous, argumentative relationship because she’s a buttoned down prim-and-proper miss with spectacles (spectacles!!!) and he’s a sarcastic, witty, wise-cracking reformed rake — with whom I am IN LOVE (I’ll even take the requisite manpain). He always calls her by her last name and his favorite pastime is riling her up while lamenting how unreasonably she hates him. Naturally, once they finally admit their mutual attraction, they can’t keep their hands off each other.
She’s got a secret past full of pain (again, yay for proper heroine angst!) and while there is a runaway plot*, this one worked for me because its resolution was much more character-driven than I normally see in historical romance, and in fact it wasn’t actually the resolution of the book as there was still some plot to go. And even though I just finished the book last night…I kind of want to dive right back in and read it again.
In terms of the other books in the series and other Kleypas, I’ve only read the third and fifth books (the ones on either side of this one, titled Tempt Me at Twilight and Love in the Afternoon). They were also very good. But in the former I think the hero was underdeveloped, with feelings which came too quickly — although one nice thing about the book was that the runaway plot involved the hero in danger, for a change, but as executed it felt tension-less and anti-climactic. The latter was lovely but kind of felt not angstyenough given that the hero was a veteran, but by contrast I liked that the mutual ILYs came about midway through the book and the rest of it was all about them dealing with how to have a good marriage.
I haven’t read the first two in the series because both of the heroes are Roma and I’m not sure if Kleypas is trustworthy. But because it’s a family series, all the characters get page time in each other’s books.
What do I like about Kleypas in general, though?
(1) Her characters have a lot of sex! I mean, I lose count of how many times it gets explicit in Kleypas’s books. This was refreshing to me, because in a Balogh book for instance you’re lucky if you get two or three sex scenes. And I do think Kleypas’s sex scenes generally all have character development and are well-written and hot.
(2) Her characters have oral sex! Fellatio and cunnilingus (actually, a lot of cunnilingus – thank you, Ms. Kleypas, for promoting the pussy…and thank you, Tony Manero, for that memorable line. I mean, I understand the reported statistics for oral sex in marriage during the 1800s are pretty low (?) but dammit, I’m reading a genre where the authors and readers are primarily women, in 2013, and I want the characters to have oral sex. And sex in positions other than missionary, which Kleypas also totally delivers.
(3) Her dialogue is crackling. I think sometimes she can get clunky with exposition of backstory or depicting the passing of time, but I cannot fault her dialogue at all. Her characters are intelligent and articulate and hilarious, and they give gloriously impassioned speeches to their beloveds.
[* runaway plot — what I call a plot that runs away with the book, usually because a character literally decides to run away or go somewhere stupid for stupid reasons, or gets kidnapped and has to be rescued, and usually of course it’s the heroine. It’s not inherently a bad plot development; it’s just that it often shallows up a book that was doing perfectly well for the first 80%]