This is the 4th Lisa Kleypas book I've read. I actually expected NOT to like it because I saw it had so many positive reviews. You see, I tend to have an opposite opinion as EVERYONE regarding this author. I found Devil in Winter to be merely "okay". I did NOT like "Someone To Watch Over Me". I really enjoyed "Dreaming of You". Yet it seems as if everyone's favorite is Devil in Winter, and that Dreaming of You is on the lower end, while others Adore Someone to Watch Over Me. I should have realized, though, that I would have disagreed with all the negative reviews, too.
This book was definitely above average, even compared to other books by her that I've read. The focus was much more on the romance and love-story rather than some barely memorable "mystery" and the ubiquitous "Big Misunderstanding". Those are plot devices that I could truly do without, yet their lack seems to have led to a lot of negative reviews.
Cam is fantastic. He's sweet, kind, and because of his Roma background is very understanding and caring. He sees Amelia for what she is: a woman forced to bear the brunt of caring for her entire family, with little support from her grieving brother, weakened sister, and much younger siblings. He found her courage, her dedication and her loyalty to her family to be desirable traits. Despite his longings for freedom, he found himself drawn to her, and his love for her was enough to make a life with her something more important than living as a Rom.
The eccentric Hathaway family was fun and enjoyable. I completely related to Amelia's efforts to manage her absurd and self-destructive family. I loved that Cam wasn't dominating and demanding. He just plain wanted to make Amelia's life better and easier. Because when you care for someone -- that's what you WANT to do. But he wasn't a pushover, either. He was jealous and had a difficult time containing his jealousy at the simplest things, with very typical Rom-like behavior.
Perhaps my own experiences have colored my opinion of this book. I have tried to save a sibling bent on destruction. I've tried to help my family members to achieve better for their lives. When you carry that burden, you feel trapped, as if you can't let your "weakness" (of being stressed and overwhelmed) show. So when she found someone to lean on, a shoulder she COULD cry on, her relief was profound, despite her fear that it may make her seem weak.
This was not a whiny, weepy, TSTL heroine. This was a woman who gained through love what she needed most -- a person who COULD help her, to take the overwhelming burdens of her life off of her hands and allow her to focus on more immediate problems. Which Cam did wonderfully.
I truly enjoyed the developing love story between Merripan and Win. Oh, and to the person who asked "What kind of name is that?" -- if you read the book, you would know -- it was a common Romany name, meaning life and death. It's not an absurd name, nor is it inappropriate. Should he have been named Steve instead??
Anyway, considering that I didn't care for the one wallflower book I read, I was glad that I enjoyed this one. I look forward to reading the next story and hearing how the tattoos fit.
Why didn't this rate 5 stars if I liked it so much? Well, I found a couple of things to be a little silly (like the houseguests just being left there for 2 weeks by themselves? NICE to have neighbors like that!). While I was fine with the paranormal aspect, and I didn't mind that some plot-lines were open-ended in anticipation of the second book, I would have liked to have an explanation of the paranormal experiences.
The other part that I found lacking was actually the sex scenes. Don't get me wrong -- they were hot! But a little predictable. It would have been nice to see Amelia devote a bit more attention on Cam, rather than the other way around. That may be just my preference, though. And honestly, I wish there had been maybe one more scene. They were VERY good. :)
In summary, this was a fun book, focused more on love and romance than on mystery and suspense. Held together by the characters rather than cliched plot devices. Of the now 4 Lisa Kleypas books I've read, I can now add this to the list of ones I would recommend. Assuming you're not looking for more "plot" versus romance story. If you want a misunderstanding, if you would rather they spend the book "finding" each other, rather than having the already present romance develop, this might not be the book for you.