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REVIEW: Seduce Me at Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas

Dear Ms. Kleypas:

book review Some have told me that Seduce Me at Sunrise was as good as Kleypas’ penultimate book, Dreaming of You, featuring Derek Craven and Sara Fielding. The book had some similar underpinnings with the hero being of the lower class with a grotesque background who feels completely unworthy to be loved by the heroine, a gently bred young woman. What I thought was similar was the strong emotional connection between Merripen and Win, the leads in Seduce Me at Sunrise.

There’s a papable physical attraction, but even more than that is the fierce emotional ties that bind them.

Win says to Merripen:

I am running after you, and life, in desperate pursuit. My dream is that someday you will both turn and let me catch you. That dream carries me through every night I long to tell you so many things, but I am not free yet I hope to be well enough someday to shock you again, with far more pleasing results.

Merripen thinks of Win:

Because it wasn’t hers to give.

Your heart is mine, he thought savagely. It belongs to me.

Winnifred was struck by scarlet fever and while she survived, her physical state was greatly weakened. She was pretty much an invalid. When her sister marries a wealthy man, the family now has the means to get Win medical care. Win chooses a risky and experimental clinic in France. It may kill her but it also may make her well. She feels that if she wasn’t so frail and delicate, if she wasn’t an invalid, then Merripen and she can be together.

Merripen would rather Winnifred stays an invalid for the rest of her life because at least she would be alive and with him. Merripen is a gypsy who was taken in by the Hathaway family when he was left for dead by his tribe. He’s fiercely protective of the family and loves Win desperately. He believes can’t ever hold her or really have her because he isn’t good enough for her given his background. His existence on this world, though, continues only because she is here. Win goes off, gets better, and returns but after two years and one letter from Merripen Win wonders if she shouldn’t just move on. So when she returns, she brings back her doctor, Julian Harrow. Julian and she have grown close and Win brings him home with her so that he can have the chance to woo her.

If romance readers read primarily for a visceral reaction, this book will be hugely successful because Merripen and Win’s strength of feeling for each other is remarkable. The problem, for me, however, was that the details, character motivations, and plot were kind of a puzzle to me. Merripen mistrusts Harrow from the beginning. There is something off about Harrow yet Merripen does nothing to protect Win from Harrow even when she wants him to, even when he has the perfect opportunity to do so. This reaction was so curious given that Merripen loved Win more than the breath in his own body.

There were long stretches of story given over to revisiting Amelia and Cam which I thought were pleasant but unnecessary, particularly when I really didn’t understand Merripen’s motivations or Win’s motivations.   The villian’s motivations were as murky as anyone else’s and given that villianry plays an important part in Win and Merripen’s emotional breakthrough, it was important for me to have some kind of understanding as to the why the villian acted in a certain manner.

As brave as Win was, she certainly played a secondary role to Merripen, Cam, Leo (her brother) and sometimes even Amelia. Indeed, I found that Leo had the best lines and seemed to steal whatever scene he was in:

“Most women have a tragic attraction to rakes,” he said regretfully. “I really shouldn’t use it against them.”

and

“Now you’ll weep for a different cause,” he told Amelia. “Because as you see, I’ve come back as well.”

She flew to him, and was swallowed in a strong embrace. “The French wouldn’t have you?” she asked, her voice muffled against his chest.

“On the contrary, they adored me. But there’s no entertainment in staying where one is wanted.”

and

The comment seemed to incense her beyond all expectation. “I am aware of your reputation as a skirt chaser, my lord. I find no cause for humor in it.”

Leo didn’t think she found cause for humor in much of anything. “My reputation has lasted in spite of a nearly three-year absence?” he asked, affecting a tone of pleased surprise.

“You’re proud of it?”

“Well, of course. It’s easy to have a good reputation-’ you merely have to do nothing. But earning a bad reputation- well, that takes some effort.”

It’s probably an understatement to say that I look forward to Leo’s book. His wry, sardonic way lent a good dose of humor to a book that could have been overwrought with angst. The emotional tone of the book was well balanced. It was just that the machinations of the characters often seemed contrived as did events that furthered the plot. The ending, in particular, had an air of convenient romancelandia scriptedness to it. A reader is not likely to be disappointed in having read the book, but I did hope for something more. B-

Best regards,

Jane

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells. No ebook format. Come on, SMP, what are you waiting for?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

18 Comments

  1. cecilia
    Oct 03, 2008 @ 17:26:45

    I like Kleypas, and this looks interesting, but I’m confused by the use of the word “penultimate” to describe Dreaming of You – it was her second last book?

  2. Kristie(J)
    Oct 03, 2008 @ 17:35:15

    The epilogue – Aha!! I knew that was going to cause some discussion. I know it’s a bit cliche but considering Kev’s obsession with Win and what would happen if……
    (trying to avoid giving away spoilers :)

    I thought it was an excellent addition in this case. They are cliche’s for a reason and if there is a good enough reason – they work!

    And I loved the roles that Leo, Cam and Amelia played. In so many cases with series, previous characters just kind of stand around and don’t really contribute that much to the story. I didn’t find that the case in this one. I read MTM and while I quite enjoyed it, I didn’t ‘take’ to Cam as much as some of her other heroes (surprisingly) but I really enjoyed him in this book and went back and reread MTM and appreciated him ever so much more. I mentioned in my review that Kev plays the dark side of love and Cam the light side.
    And I also liked seeing Leo was starting to heal somewhat after his almost suicide in MTM.
    I agree with you though in looking forward to Leo’s story *BG*

  3. Jill Myles
    Oct 03, 2008 @ 18:44:43

    Can I just say I agreed with everything KristieJ said? She said everything that I was thinking but didn’t realize I was thinking. ;)

  4. Jane
    Oct 03, 2008 @ 22:24:35

    @cecilia: Sadly I am an idiot and did not use the right word. No, I meant her most popular, zenith book.

  5. Hilcia
    Oct 04, 2008 @ 07:07:53

    And may I say that I also agree with KristieJ on this one :)
    IMO, Merripen and Win were the center of this story. I love the way the family was a part of story in book. However, I did not feel that they took anything away from the H/H. On the contrary, I thought LK did a wonderful job of developing the secondary characters, and finishing Cam's story, while at the same time not neglecting keeping the H/H center stage.

  6. Estara
    Oct 04, 2008 @ 09:30:39

    I’m sorry to have to add to the nit-picking (I actually checked penultimate on the free dictionary – as an ESL speaker you can’t be too careful), but this entry is tagged invalid and your rating of B- doesn’t show in the tags.

  7. Stephanie
    Oct 04, 2008 @ 10:12:42

    I thought “invalid” was being used in the sense of “seriously ill person” rather than “not valid”–though I’ll admit I looked twice before the full meaning sank in.

    I’ve heard that “Seduce Me at Sunrise” reads a bit like “Mine Till Midnight, Part 2.” On the other hand, since “Mine Till Midnight” left a number of loose ends dangling, that might not be such a bad thing. I’ll probably check this one out since the reaction to it seems to be more positive than negative. I’ve yet to read a really unfavorable review of SMAS, and the tidbits involving Leo look promising at the very least.

  8. KarLyn
    Oct 04, 2008 @ 18:21:42

    I especially loved two things about this book. One, Win was a risk taker yet she never pulls a single TSTL. That in itself speaks volumes to Kleypas’s writing talent. I personally think Win is one of my favorite Kleypas heroines. She was smart, humorous, and willing to live life to its fullest enjoyment despite risks and nay sayers.

    The other thing I loved was Leo, the older brother. I was surprised by how much I liked Leo in this book as I absolutely hated him in the previous book Mine Till Midnight. He really did steal the show with his dry humor. I especially loved the dialog he gave Merripen aboud 2/3rd through the book, after Merripen had a night of drinking. It showed a serious side to Leo that I imagine we will see more of in his book. I’ll have to eat my hat, but I am now looking forward to Leo’s book. I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to read his book after MTM.

  9. orannia
    Oct 05, 2008 @ 17:14:58

    I can’t wait to get my hands on this book. Thank you Jane.

  10. Sam
    Oct 05, 2008 @ 23:59:15

    “No ebook format. Come on, SMP, what are you waiting for?”

    Exactly! I have every one of her historical ebooks, but they stopped after the Wallflower series. Very frustrating.

  11. FanLit
    Oct 06, 2008 @ 12:56:07

    I’m half-way through the book and it’s a terrific read. I think the glimpses we had of Kev and Win in Mine Til Midnight really flourish in this book. They are wonderful together and their scenes leap off the written page.

    Also, I agree with those readers who are impressed with the depth of character that LK has given Leo. He was so selfish in MTM and has really grown in this book. He brings such humor to his scenes and his interaction with his siblings, Cam and Merripen are priceless. In fact, the entire Hathaway family is so well-written. The few scenes that Kev and Win had in Mine Til Midnight stole the book from Cam and Amelia. Yet here, Cam and Amelia somehow improve as a couple. I have to disagree with Jane – I enjoyed all the scenes with Cam and Amelia. I thought Cam really balances out Amelia’s need to solve every family problem.

  12. sallahdog
    Oct 06, 2008 @ 17:33:17

    Just finished this one…. I have no idea if this will hang with me, and be a favorite like Dreaming of you, but I really liked it. I found it a vast improvement over the last two books, especially Daisys book (I hoped she would end up with Cam, instead of just one kiss)… Amelia and Cams book grew on me, I don’t consider it a favorite or a comfort read. This one, I liked pretty much everything about it.

  13. Chantal
    Oct 08, 2008 @ 12:13:18

    I have this in my TBR. I will read it soon.
    Chantal/Seneca

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  18. Monique K
    Nov 07, 2011 @ 19:12:23

    *****Spoiler Alert*****

    I totally agree with you Jane about the loose ends and motivations of the villian Dr. Harrow. I felt like there was some devious reason he wanted Win enough to poison Kev. I guess one could assume he just wanted to marry again to claim his wife’s dowry but I don’t like to assume! In my pondering I also thought that 2 years was more than enough time for Dr. Harrow to have fallen in love with her but in light of what he did to the last Mrs. Harrow and the fact that he never intended to have children with her, which is something he knew she wanted, makes that reasoning not logical. Bottom line I wish his motivations had been clearer.

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