Captain Christopher Phelan is a handsome, daring soldier who plans to marry Beatrix's friend, the vivacious flirt Prudence Mercer, when he returns from fighting abroad. But, as he explains in his letters to Pru, life on the battlefield has darkened his soul—and it's becoming clear that Christopher won't come back as the same man. When Beatrix learns of Pru's disappointment, she decides to help by concocting Pru's letters to Christopher for her. Soon the correspondence between Beatrix and Christopher develops into something fulfilling and deep... and when Christopher comes home, he's determined to claim the woman he loves. What began as Beatrix's innocent deception has resulted in the agony of unfulfilled love—and a passion that can't be denied.
Comment: This is the 5th installment in the Hathaways series by author Lisa Kleypas. As has happened with the others, This is the book belonging to this month. Because this is the last book, this will be my goodbye to the Hathaways, a family I really enjoyed meeting.
In this book, we finally have Beatrix Hathaway as a protagonist. Beatrix is the weird sister, always more concerned about her animals than the balls and society appearances. Because she is the last single sibling, Bea lives in Ramsey House with Amelia and Cam and any other Hathaway that might appear. Close by she has her friend Prudence, a young girl too who corresponds with their neighbor Captain Phelan. But Prudence is a girl more interested in the fun and superficial parts of life and she is planning on letting go of the correspondence now that the captain's letters have turned darker.
Bea and prudence then decide that Bea will reply, even more so because he wants advice on a dog and Bea knows all about animals.
But what begun as a favor turns into a romance and when Bea decides to stop the letters it's too late, they are already in love. But the war ends and captain Phelan returns, thinking Prudence is the author of the letters. Can Bea really let that happen?
I'm really fond of romances featuring the exchange of letters and I was very curious on how the author would depict this. I think it's a great way to move the plot forward at the same time we see the personality of the characters.
The letters themselves weren't that many but they provided a good enough idea about both Bea and Christopher and I was very glad to get to know them.
The series have always told us how Beatrix likes animals and how much she does to help them. I confess I liked seeing this side of her instead of just reading about it. And even better was to see how her relationship with Christopher developed before he knew her identity, which also included scenes with her and animals. I don't know how to explain but seeing them together seemed very right and their relationship well structured somehow.
The book isn't perfect though. There is a certain inner conflict in Christopher, he obviously feels guilty over some things and he has minor symptoms of what we call now PTSD, which clearly would have to be addressed and I'm glad he learned to think about those things in a way that didn't ruin his relationship but the way things were done seemed so rushed and sudden, it didn't have the finesse I expected and I admit it made me lower my grade of the book. Everything seemed to be going so smoothly and then, that.
I liked this book more than some others because the romance felt more magical, more romantic somehow. I really enjoyed each step in their courtship and how both were becoming better people because they were in love. I think this is one of the best things about romances.
Of course, before they finally talked and became a couple, Bea would still have to explain what she did. She was caught in false but at this time things were already suspicious for Christopher. I suppose often this type of trope can be ruined if the finding out isn't believable enough, but for me it worked well and their bond felt very special and strong at the end of the revelation.
I also loved to see the secondary characters interact here with the couple, namely the Hathaway siblings. Part of the reason why the series is popular or interesting is because each couple isn't an island and there's a connection, proximity between everyone. Who doesn't like reading about close families who care for one another?
All in all, this was a great mix of elements that made me like the book a lot. Some things broke the rhythm for me and it didn't turn out to be as perfect as I wanted but I was positively surprised by this novel and despite wanting the 4th to be my favorite, this one ended up being it. I'm really happy with Beatrix's story and her personality and how great she is as a heroine.
I'll be sorry to leave this amazing family but it was great to know them.