- Title: Love, Come to Me
- Author: Lisa Kleypas
- Series: N/A
- Genre(s): Historical
- Publisher: Penguin, August 2011 (first published June 1988)
- Purchase: Amazon, $7.99
- Tropes: Bodice-Ripper, Insta-Love, I Hate You Except When We Kiss
- Quick blurb: Rebel-in-Yankee-Territory gets the hots for a New England snob.
- Quick review: Great setting, so-so heroine, inconsistent hero. It kinda sorta almost works.
- Grade: C
Full disclosure: I own every one of Kleypas’ historical romances, and her recurring character Marcus Marsden, Earl Westcliff, is my Fictional Boyfriend.
Therefore, I was compelled to purchase the recent reprint of one of her earliest novels, Love, Come to Me, despite the promise of an unhealthy amount of bodice-ripping:
Bewildered, startled, she felt his lips against hers, tasting her in a way she had never dreamed of. His mouth was blazing and hungry, she was shaking, this time not from cold but from a heat that burgeoned deep inside her.
When strong and handsome Heath Rayne pulled lovely young Lucinda Caldwell from a winter river, he rescued her from an icy death. But soon he was plunging her into a torrid torrent of passion that this New England beauty had never suspected could claim her. Heath was unlike any other man Lucy had ever known — a dashing, mocking, sensuous Southerner who came as a stranger to Lucy’s Massachusetts town…and stayed to conquer all the odds against him…as he stripped away Lucy’s last shreds of resistance to the demands of desire and the flaming fulfillment of love…
It’s a good thing an introductory Author’s Note was included in this new edition – Kleypas herself sums up my own reaction:
I hope you enjoy the story of Lucinda and Heath, which was written with an enthusiasm that will hopefully atone for any weaknesses that I must cheerfully ascribe to youth and inexperience.
It’s very obvious this was the work of a rookie novelist, with a LOT of angsty, repetitive internal monologuing. But overall, it’s oddly charming, with enough sparks of Future Kleypas flaring up to keep me interested.
The suspension of disbelief begins with the opening scene – an eye-rollingly contrived “Are the people back home truly dumb enough to believe THAT story???” setup.
The almost-rape deflowering scene had me ready to declare it a resounding Did Not Finish, but luckily Kleypas’ editor must have waved the big red “NOOOOOO” flag.
A cookie-cutter Sinister Sister-in-Law appeared right on schedule, but the sense of menace was diminished by some character naming weirdness – hero named “Rayne,” villainess nicknamed “Raine.” WTF? Why did no one say, “Hey, Lisa, how about naming her Cruella or Maleficent instead?”
Lucinda Caldwell would never hold her own with Kleypas’ other heroines, especially American smartass Lillian Bowman, but by the last third of the book she finally evolved from a stock character into something a little more three-dimensional. Lucy seemed like a first-draft version of Annabelle in the first Wallflowers book.
Heath Rayne, however, is no Simon Hunt. It took me a long time to warm up to this “illegitimate Southern loner who’s politically progressive and mysteriously rich” hero. He was wildly inconsistent, seesawing between Mr. Perceptive Sensitivity and Mr. Brutish Neanderthal at unexplainable moments.
Now let me tell you what I REALLY think….
Putting the crankiness aside, it was fun to see how this rookie outing compares to her later beloved bestsellers – especially in the bedroom scenes, *wink wink.*
The Concord/Boston setting, complete with cameos by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Bronson Alcott, was my favorite part of the entire book. I wondered for a few moments if Bronson’s daughter would make an appearance as our heroine’s BFF, but then I realized Louisa May would have had ZERO tolerance for Lucy’s pre-marriage vanity and vapidity.
The Reb-in-Yankee-Territory premise was a great conflict for the first half, and it came satisfyingly full circle in the HEA.
Speaking of HEAs: Will jilted Damon Redmond ever get his own sequel? *sigh*