St Martin’s Press, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-312-94981-5
Historical Romance, 2008
First we have Mine Till Midnight. Now we have Seduce Me at Sunrise. I can only hope that the next book is Bed Me by Breakfast instead of Abandon Me This Afternoon.
The author claims that Seduce Me at Sunrise is “one of the most passionate and emotionally intense historical romances” that she has written in years. Ms Kleypas was inspired by the love story of Elizabeth Barrett Browning when it comes to creating the character of Winnifred Hathaway and writing her love story. Well, all of this sounds really good to me, but this book however is a so-so story that contains none of what I’d consider passion or intensity.
In fact, I’m tempted to copy and paste chunks of my review of the previous book here. The story has many similar strengths and flaws as the previous book, after all.
Comparisons to Wuthering Heights, whether we are talking about the book or Kate Bush’s dramatic banshee interpretation of the book, are not entirely valid here as while Kev Merripen may be a Gypsy foundling adopted by the Hathaways, he doesn’t do that chest-thumping and head-bashing kind of self-destructive behavior. The Hathaways are too noble and perfect to banish Kev for fiddling with the master’s daughter – any depreciation exists solely in Kev’s head for the predictable “I’m no good for you, so love me, readers, because I’m so emo!” drama. Win, of course, isn’t going to marry someone else just to spite Kev for hurting her – she goes off to France in this story to get treatment for her illness so that she can finally find the strength to love Kev and, it goes without saying, perform the acrobatic maneuvers necessary to attain the true bliss of nirvana in Kev’s corded arms.
This story dips sometimes into flashbacks, so that we can follow the developing relationship between young Win and Kev. Kev is the most noble and amazing person that has ever doted on Win while Win is the most unnaturally understanding lady even at a young age, the one that sees right into Kev’s soul and tells him that he is not alone. I also learn that Leo, who is quite the nuisance in the previous book, is actually genuinely hurting over the death of his wife Laura. He is not a brat after all. He is a good man who is just hurt, you know. If you want to know more, don’t hold your breath waiting in anticipation – I’m sure that book is now in the final stages of production as we speak. Back to the present, Win returns, all comparatively healthy and ready to perform some tantric acrobatics in the name of love, but Kev of course pulls that record out of his taut bubble buns and plays that song on the gramophone. Oh, and don’t worry. Difference in class status? Kev being a commoner? Watch as Aunty Lisa waves her magic wand and has every potential not-clichéd aspect of this romance erased so that the characters get a most predictable kind of happy ending.
I like Win because she’s not a doormat here, although she often becomes too much like a too-perfect mother figure who says and does everything right when it comes to Kev. Her romance with Kev is more often than not a heavy-handed tale of Kev getting over his self-esteem issues, although in this case, I find Kev’s predictable and familiar whining tedious. It’s hard to sympathize with him or view his martyrdom as a noble one when it’s very clear in this story that he is the only one preventing the story to move to its inevitable happy ever after conclusion. My problem with this story is that there is hardly any credible conflict standing in the way of our two characters apart from Kev’s determination to martyr himself. As a result, this story is pretty boring.
The secondary characters are present in this story to raise my blood sugar level. For example, I know I am supposed to cry when I read about how the Hathaway kids’ mother finally expire from a broken heart after the death of their father, but given how everyone so far has been so noble and perfect, I feel as if I’m trapped in a mawkish melodrama that is usually shown on channels like Hallmark come Christmas. The author is a deft hand at creating likable characters and family interactions, but here I feel that she is laying the too-sentimental melodrama way too thickly for my liking.
That is not saying that Seduce Me at Sunrise is a bad book. It’s a cleanly written readable story. It’s just that I find this story too sentimental and suspense-free, with everything falling into place so neatly and perfectly for the too-good-to-be-true characters and all. This book falls into my hands too early – I’d probably be in a better mood to enjoy this feel-good melodrama if I’ve been reading it during the Christmas holiday season. Play that song about the poor wee drummer boy, give me some liquor, and I’d probably be bawling my eyes out by the fifth chapter.