Harry was willing to do anything to win Poppy—except to open his heart. All his life, he has held the world at arm’s length…but the sharp, beguiling Poppy demands to be his wife in every way that matters. Still, as desire grows between them, an enemy lurks in the shadows. Now if Harry wants to keep Poppy by his side, he must forge a true union of body and soul, once and for all...
Comment: This is the third installment in the Hathaways series by Lisa Kleypas. I've been reading the series these past months and so far I'm impressed by it. As always, some books are better than others but overall I've been having fun reading.
In this third book we have Poppy's story. She's the middle sister and of all the Hathaways she's the one who wants more safety and monotony to her life. In order to have it, she will accept her beloved Michael's proposal and marry someone above any gossip. But one day, while at the Rutledge hotel for her third season, she finds herself trapped in a secret wall and is rescued by a gentleman who kisses her and with whom she has an interesting conversation.
Harry Rutledge is the hotel owner, he's known to be a cold person, fair but rarely amused, and he sees in Poppy not only a woman he can talk to but someone he has a strong attraction to as well. He decides she will be a good wife and goes on his way to stop her eventual marriage by any means possible. But what will she do when she finds out the truth?
Well, in reality, not much. I can't describe how annoying it was to read about Harry's actions towards stopping Poppy from marrying Michael. Sure, he only does one little thing but it's enough for Poppy to not receive an offer. In the book that has more than one justification but I still couldn't believe a hero would act such a way to prevent the heroine's happiness. Ok we can always say she wouldn't be happy anyway, but what about principles and good behavior? I admit I was not impressed by Harry in the first pages.
I was feeling rather doubtful about how he could be redeemed and the moment I closed the book down, I can't say I was truly glad he found happiness as well. I mean, he had his reasons, he didn't act terribly the more the plot went along, but he's not the type of hero I expected. He's unusual, which fits the Hathaways perfectly and we did learn interesting things about him and his past, but I kept thinking about what he did in the beginning and, despite the allusions to the era's costumes in terms of lady's behavior, I still think Poppy was to forgiving.
I like the characters in general, especially the Hathaways and their family bonds. It's so special to see how the author includes several scenes with the family or some elements of it, including Beatrix's pets, because we can glimpse more of their lives this way and obviously it brings us closer to them. I also loved to see the little fights between Leo and miss Marks, the next protagonists. I confess I'm very eager for that book. Part of the fun it to see the bond between everyone and why they support each other. They must be some of the best families in romantic fiction.
The plot doesn't have much to it. We basically need to see how far Poppy and Harry go to accept their feelings, what are they a good couple and how does their marriage affect what they think abut one another. there are one or two things added to work out as the conflict, but nothing that doesn't have a solution. The main characters' growing up in terms of managing their relationship is what truly matters here. It seemed Poppy had it easier because of her steady family in that aspect, and Harry had to accept he could and should love his wife before any other thing but that could mean he had a weak spot after all. It seemed to me the relationship was balanced in that area but Harry didn't really feel he had to apologize of answer to his previous actions. I know this is a romance and they had a HEA but what would stop him from doing something else one day in the future... That got me thinking.
In the end, I add up this book as another success by the author. Maybe it didn't impress me as much as I hoped for, but it keeps up with the positive trend of the series. I can't wait to start the next one, and I have high expectations about its development.
In the end, this was still a good story in the series.