November Author Spotlight: Lisa Kleypas

Lisa Kleypas

One of my favorite historical romance authors.

Strengths:

1.     Really well developed and individuated characters – Kleypas’s heroines range from being fiercely independent and strong-willed to quiet and demure; they are authors, actresses, American heiresses and members of the British aristocracy.  Her men range from being Bow Street Runners to well-informed, socially progressive earls, to Russian princes, former thieves, and gypsies.  They are each unique and memorable and almost always go through a believable character arc of growth and development.

2.     Wonderful settings and details that help us become well grounded in the era.  In Kleypas’s novels, you know that you’re in the Regency era not only because there are balls and waltzes, but also because there are details about a developing railroad, mass manufacturing soap, wars and propositions that are being debated, as well as a lush landscape that is in the backdrop.

3.     Well-written, sensual love scenes that progress. I read somewhere that not all lovemaking scenes should be interchangeable within a particular novel, and that’s definitely true for Kleypas.  There is a rising crescendo to her lovemaking scenes (for most of her novels), so that it feels like not only a physical experience, but part of the characters’ emotional development, which makes the scenes far more interesting and compelling.

 

Weaknesses:

1.     Kleypas will sometimes focus a little more on the dramatic aspects of a particular story – particularly because some of her heroines are escaping an arrange marriage or something in their past, there are quite often villains.  And with villains comes things like attempted rape, attempted kidnapping, even murder – and that’s not for everyone.

2.     Some of my least favorite Kleypas novels (almost all amongst her earlier works) have details that are a little too much for me.  Ultimately, I read romance because I want escapist fiction.  When I’m told that one character was almost raped when he was a child sent on a prison boat, or another was a man-whore who made his fortune bribing former lovers and robbing graces, that’s a little too much realism for me… at least within the Regency era.

3.   She’s not really a humorous author… though she occasionally writes a very memorably light-hearted scene, when she tries for outright humor, it’s sometimes cringe-worthy (but this happens very rarely)

4.     The titles have nothing to do with the stories!!! This is a tiny, tiny little nitpicky point, but just as Kleypas always has memorable characters, her titles almost always feel just slapped on.  I can easily tell you the differences between Merripen and Westcliff, Sir Ross and Christopher Phelan – I can remember which one was brooding, which was a widower, which had a dog and which was described as being striking, but not quite handsome.  BUT – if you tell me just the title of any one of her novels, even odds I’ll have no clue, because half the time, there is no relationship between the words (like Autumn or Spring), and what actually happens in the book!!!  This can make trying to recommend one of her works to a friend particularly frustrating!

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