Saturday, October 2, 2010

Married By Morning

He is everything she wants to avoid...

For two years, Catherine Marks has been a paid companion to the Hathaway sisters—a pleasant position, with one caveat. Her charges’ older brother, Leo Hathaway, is thoroughly exasperating. Cat can hardly believe that their constant arguing could mask a mutual attraction. But when one quarrel ends in a sudden kiss, Cat is shocked at her powerful response—and even more so when Leo proposes a dangerous liaison.

She is not at all what she seems...

Leo must marry and produce an heir within a year to save his family home. Catherine’s respectable demeanor hides a secret that would utterly destroy her. But to Leo, Cat is intriguing and infernally tempting, even to a man resolved never to love again. The danger Cat tried to outrun is about to separate them forever—unless two wary lovers can find a way to banish the shadows and give in to their desires…

Not the strongest book in the series, but an excellent read that builds up nicely to the last book in The Hathaways quintet!

Kleypas does not disappoint in this fourth book of The Hathaways series. If you have not read this series, please do so in order! It's wonderful and you will get so much more out of these characters. (See my review on Tempt Me at Twilight for a little background about the series.) The order of the series is listed at the end of this post, but Leo is the character that shows the most growth over all the books up to this point and Married By Morning is his story.

Leo's been through a lot, from endless drinking and debauching to the healthier, much more respectable man, supported by a loving and caring family all along the way. But over the last two years he's been plagued by Catherine Marks, the strict, no-nonsense be-spectacled governess to the family's two youngest girls. Ever since Catherine - or Marks, as Leo affectionately calls her - came onto the scene, she and Leo have had a challenging, quarrelsome relationship. They bicker relentlessly and their strife is well-known by the entire family, but as we see in Tempt Me at Twilight it begins to give way to something quite different. Suddenly the passion and tension behind the taunting becomes more about the thrill of interaction and a craving for more of it. You can see in the previous books how they fed off of each others harsh remarks and put-downs, but all that hostility has more recently become a mask for feelings that finally begin to show through, although both are reluctant to admit it.

Leo is intrigued by the intimate conversation he witnesses between Catherine and Harry Rutledge, Poppy's husband. When Catherine tells Leo that she and Harry are in fact half-siblings, sharing the same mother, we settle in to learn all about Catherine's past and how it will affect her future with the Hathaways. But Leo baits her and she bites back (figuratively, of course) and next thing you know, he kisses her.  But that kiss opens a world of something new for both of them.

Meanwhile, the Hathaway family is in a tizzy because of a letter they received from their solicitor. It seems that as a result of the Ramsey properties changing hands multiple times, and messily done at that, there was a clause that was missed, stating Leo needs to produce an heir within a year if the Hathaway family is to keep possession of the physical house they have all put so much effort into rebuilding and refurbishing. Eagerly waiting in the wings to take possession is the late Viscount's wife and a very beautiful daughter. A ball is just the thing to find Leo a wife, but Catherine's past soon catches up with her, leaving her no choice but to flee from the Hathaways and leave Leo to the future he must uphold.

This story, while good and very much anticipated, was not quite what I was expecting.  It was really good, definitely, but I thought it was the weakest of the series to date.  The first few chapters duplicate a lot of information we learn at the end of Tempt Me at Twilight, which would have been fine if I hadn't just read it all and moved right into this book. So once past that, things began to pick up steam. Leo and Catherine battle their emotions and their attraction for each other as two other subplots work their gears in the background. Dodger, Beatrix's pet ferret, was oodles of fun to read since he has a way of getting his cute little whiskers right in the middle of anything where Catherine is concerned. It seems where Leo leaves off, Dodger picks up, antagonizing Catherine even further, but in a affectionate, besotted-ferret kind of way. I'm still waiting for Dodger's antics to reveal where he's stashed all of Catherine's garters, which have been disappearing over the course of the books. I also really enjoyed Leo's questions everytime he tried to convince Catherine that a kiss with the right person could turn your brains to mush. Such a creative ploy in the story and it was tons of fun to read. Indeed, it was lovely to see Leo and Catherine finally get together, but there is a lot of drama before any kind of happily ever after can happen, so who better than the Hathaway clan to come together to support and protect their own?

I'm off to read the last book in this fabulous series. Love in the Afternoon tells us Beatrix's story and I can't wait since she was my favorite of the Hathaway siblings.  I'm also sad to start this last book because I know this is the end of the series... but one I will definitely read again.  I highly recommend this series and encourage readers to start with book one for maximum enjoyment!   

My rating:  8 - Definitely on my keeper shelf

The Hathaway Series in order...  

    Amelia's Story            Win's Story                 Poppy's Story             Leo's Story                   Beatrix's Story

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