SEDUCE ME AT SUNRISE
“Has plenty to keep readers turning the pages: Wit, suspense, secrets to learn and, of course, lots of love and passion…”—The Monitor
“Each member of the family is a delight to meet, and the depths of emotions and love they have for each other is shown magnificently...a spectacular story that continues the saga of the Hathaway family.”—Romance Reviews
“Lushly sexy and thoroughly romantic…superbly crafted characters and an intriguing plot blend together brilliantly in this splendid romance.”—Booklist
MINE TILL MIDNIGHT
“Vintage Kleypas…An unforgettable story peopled with remarkable characters and a depth of emotion that will leave you breathless with the wonderment of knowing what falling in love is really like.”
—Romantic Times BOOKreviews
“Kleypas’s effortless style makes for another sexy exploration of 19th-century passion and peccadilloes, riveting from start to finish.”—Publishers Weekly
“Will steal the hearts of readers.”—The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC)
“Captivating…The love story brims with humor and touches of pathos as the characters struggle with lost love and relinquishing grief to embrace life anew.”—Fresh Fiction
“Strong characters, compelling romance, an intriguing story, and steamy passion.”—The State (Columbia, South Carolina)
“Aside from creating wonderfully alluring characters in Cam and Amelia, Kleypas shows sexual tension, sensitively handles prejudice, and expertly weaves in a bit of the supernatural to round out a tale that is pure delight. Cam and Amelia’s romance is well-paced and is a pleasing balance of wit and passion. Their relationship is…riveting from beginning to end.” —Romance Reviews Today
“RITA Award–winner Kleypas presents another wonderfully entertaining, lusciously sensual historical romance.”—Booklist
From the Back Cover
Night or day, it’s always high time to fall in love with New York Times bestselling author
She harbors a secret yearning.
As a lover of animals and nature, Beatrix Hathaway has always been more comfortable outdoors than in the ballroom. Even though she participated in the London season in the past, the classic beauty and free-spirited Beatrix has never been swept away or seriously courted…and she has resigned herself to the fate of never finding love. Has the time come for the most unconventional of the Hathaway sisters to settle for an ordinary man—just to avoid spinsterhood?
He is a world-weary cynic.
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…
“Will leave you breathless.”—Romantic Times BOOKreviews
About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Hampshire, England Eight months earlier
It all began with a letter.
To be precise, it was the mention of the dog.
“What about the dog?” Beatrix Hathaway asked. “Whose dog?”
Her friend Prudence, the reigning beauty of Hampshire County, looked up from the letter that had been sent by her suitor, Captain Christopher Phelan.
Although it wasn’t proper for a gentleman to correspond with an unmarried girl, they had arranged to send letters back and forth with Phelan’s sister-in-law as a go-between.
Prudence sent her a mock frown. “Really, Bea, you’re displaying far more concern over a dog than you ever have for Captain Phelan.”
“Captain Phelan has no need of my concern,” Beatrix said pragmatically. “He has the concern of every marriageable miss in Hampshire. Besides, he chose to go to war, and I’m sure he’s having a lovely time strutting about in his smart uniform.”
“It’s not at all smart,” came Prudence’s glum reply. “In fact, his new regiment has dreadful uniforms—very plain, dark green with black facings, and no gold braiding or lace at all. And when I asked why, Captain Phelan said it was to help the Rifles stay concealed, which makes no sense, as everyone knows that a British soldier is far too brave and proud to conceal himself during battle. But Christopher—that is, Captain Phelan—said it had something to do with . . . oh, he used some French word . . .”
“Camouflage?” Beatrix asked, intrigued.
“Yes, how did you know?”
“Many animals have ways of camouflaging themselves to keep from being seen. Chameleons, for example. Or the way an owl’s feathering is mottled to help it blend with the bark of its tree. That way—”
“Heavens, Beatrix, do not start another lecture on animals.”
“I’ll stop if you tell me about the dog.”
Prudence handed her the letter. “Read it for yourself.”
“But Pru,” Beatrix protested as the small, neat pages were pushed into her hands. “Captain Phelan may have written something personal.”
“I should be so fortunate! It’s utterly gloomy. Nothing but battles and bad news.”
Although Christopher Phelan was the last man Beatrix would ever want to defend, she couldn’t help pointing out, “He is away fighting in the Crimea, Pru. I’m not sure there are many pleasant things to write about in war time.”
“Well, I have no interest in foreign countries, and I’ve never pretended to.”
A reluctant grin spread across Beatrix’s face. “Pru, are you certain that you want to be an officer’s wife?”
“Well, of course . . . most commissioned soldiers never go to war. They’re very fashionable men-about-town, and if they agree to go on half pay, they have hardly any duties and they don’t have to spend any time at all with the regiment. And that was the case with Captain Phelan, until he was alerted for foreign service.” Prudence shrugged. “I suppose wars are always inconveniently timed. Thank heavens Captain Phelan will return to Hampshire soon.”
“Will he? How do you know?”
“My parents say the war will be over by Christmas.”
“I’ve heard that as well. However, one wonders if we aren’t severely underestimating the Russians’ abilities, and overestimating our own.”
“How unpatriotic,” Prudence exclaimed, a teasing light in her eyes.
“Patriotism has nothing to do with the fact that the War Office, in its enthusiasm, didn’t do nearly enough planning before it launched thirty thousand men to the Crimea. We have neither adequate knowledge of the place, nor any sound strategy for its capture.”
“How do you know so much about it?”
“From the Times. It’s reported on every day. Don’t you read the papers?”
“Not the political section. My parents say it’s ill-bred for a young lady to take an interest in such things.”
“My family discusses politics every night at dinner, and my sisters and I all take part.” Beatrix paused deliberately before adding with an impish grin, “We even have opinions.”
Prudence’s eyes widened. “My goodness. Well, I shouldn’t be surprised. Everyone knows your family is . . . different.”
“Different” was a far kinder adjective than was often used to describe the Hathaway family. The Hathaways were comprised of five siblings, the oldest of which was Leo, followed by Amelia, Winnifred, Poppy, and Beatrix. After the death of their parents, the Hathaways had gone through an astonishing change of fortune. Although they were common born, they were distantly related to an aristocratic branch of the family. Through a series of unexpected events, Leo had inherited a viscountcy for which he and his sisters hadn’t been remotely prepared. They had moved from their small village of Primrose Place to the Ramsay estate in the southern county of Hampshire.
After six years the Hathaways had managed to learn just enough to accommodate themselves in good society. However, none of them had learned to think like the nobility, nor had they acquired aristocratic values or mannerisms. They had wealth, but that was not nearly as important as breeding and connections. And whereas a family in similar circumstances would have endeavored to improve their situations by marrying their social betters, the Hathaways had so far chosen to marry for love.
As for Beatrix, there was doubt as to whether she would marry at all. She was only half civilized, spending most of her time out-of-doors, riding or rambling through the woodlands, marsh, and meadows of Hampshire. Beatrix preferred the company of animals to people, collecting injured and orphaned creatures and rehabilitating them. The creatures that couldn’t survive on their own in the wild were kept as pets, and Beatrix occupied herself with caring for them. Out-of-doors, she was happy and fulfilled. Indoors, life was not nearly so perfect.
More and more frequently, Beatrix had become aware of a chafing sense of dissatisfaction. Of yearning. The problem was that Beatrix had never met a man who was right for her. Certainly none of the pale, overbred specimens of the London drawing rooms she had frequented. And although the more robust men in the country were appealing, none of them had the unnameable something Beatrix longed for. She dreamed of a man whose force of will matched her own. She wanted to be passionately loved . . . challenged . . . overtaken.
Beatrix glanced at the folded letter in her hands.
It wasn’t that she disliked Christopher Phelan as much as she recognized that he was inimical to everything she was. Sophisticated and born to privilege, he was able to move with ease in the civilized environment that was so alien to her. He was the second son of a well-to-do local family, his maternal grandfather an earl, his father’s family distinguished by a significant shipping fortune.
Although the Phelans were not in line for a title, the oldest son, John, would inherit the Riverton estate in Warwickshire upon the earl’s death. John was a sober and thoughtful man, devoted to his wife, Audrey.
But the younger brother, Christopher, was another sort of man entirely. As often happened with second sons, Christopher had purchased an army commission at the age of twenty-two. He had gone in as a cornet, a perfect occupation for such a splendid-looking fellow, since his chief responsibility was to carry the cavalry colors during parades and drills. He was also a great favorite among the ladies of London, where he constantly went without proper leave, spending his time dancing, drinking, gaming, purchasing fine clothes, and indulging in scandalous love affairs.
Beatrix had met Christopher Phelan on two occasions, the first at a local dance, where she had judged him to be the most arrogant man in Hampshire. The next time she had met him was at a picnic, where she had revised her opinion: he was the most arrogant man in the entire world.
“That Hathaway girl is a peculiar creature,” Beatrix had overhead him say to a companion.
“I find her charming and original,” his companion had protested. “And she can talk horses better than any woman I’ve ever met.”
“Naturally,” came Phelan’s dry rejoinder. “She’s more suited to the stables than the drawing room.”
From then on, Beatrix had avoided him whenever possible. Not that she minded the implied comparison to a horse, since horses were lovely animals with generous and noble spirits. And she knew that although she wasn’t a great beauty, she had her own charms. More than one man had commented favorably on her dark brown hair and blue eyes.
These moderate attractions, however, were nothing compared to Christopher Phelan’s golden splendor. He was as fair as Lancelot. Gabriel. Perhaps Lucifer, if one believed that he had once been the most beautiful angel in heaven. Phelan was tall and silver eyed, his hair the color of dark winter wheat touched by the sun. His form was strong and soldierly, the shoulders straight and strong, the hips slim. Even as he moved with indolent grace, there was something undeniably potent about him, something selfishly predatory.
Recently Phelan had been one of the select few to be culled from various regiments to become part of the Rifle Brigade. The “Rifles,” as they were called, were an unusual brand of soldier, trained to use their own initiative. They were encouraged to take up positions forward of their own front lines and pick off officers and horses that were usually beyond target range. Because of his singular marksmanship skills, Phelan had been promoted to a captaincy in the Rifle Brigade.
It had amused Beatrix to refle...