Mine Till Midnight (Lisa Kleypas, Hathaways #1)

4.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
Mine Till Midnight has all of the great things you would expect from a Kleypas novel – well developed characters who go through a believable internal struggle on their way towards finding everlasting love, flashes of humor, believable quasi-villains, enough details to really root you in the time period, and a delightful supporting cast.  More than that, it’s a wonderful introduction to the Hathaway family, a great opening novel featuring a strong, more mature female who’s used to being the head of the household, and, in a very creative well-done way, a male protagonist who’s not an earl, viscount or even strictly English.  With Cam Rohan, we have an untraditional gypsy hero, who really breathes life and vitality back into the more traditional regency romance.

Greater Detail:
Amelia Hathaway is used to being the head of the household – she’s got several eccentric siblings she’s used to managing and caring for (one who steals things, one who is constantly sickly, one who’s still mourning the death of his first love), and she’s the one who manages everything from the accounting to their family’s move (after an unexpected inheritance makes her brother Leo a viscount with a small estate in Hampshire).  She’s dedicated to being a spinster, not only because it’s been a bit of a necessary sacrifice due to her family responsibilities, but also because she’s been wooed, and then ultimately rejected, in the past.

Enter Cam Rohan, a gypsy who has become insanely wealthy despite his humble beginnings as an errand boy/dealer in a gaming club. He’s got all the prerequisites of a regency hero – fiendishly attractive, confident, intelligent – but he’s grown bored of the women he’s associated with.  That he’d be attracted to someone like Amelia makes sense, and their pairing feels somewhat natural, despite the unusual circumstances, Kleypas artfully shows us the ways in which they are more similar than opposite, despite their differing backgrounds.

Since this is the first in a five book series, there is quite a bit of time devoted to introducing us to the full cast of Hathaways.  While I know some people might dislike having such a full-fledged supporting cast (especially full since there are some cameos from Wallflower series characters as well), I really enjoyed it.  This was a family that really loved one another, despite and because of their eccentricities, and you could really see how an unconventional hero like Cam might comfort and feel at home, in such a setting.

Further, Cam’s Roma heritage and superstitions add dimension and depth to the story.  It’s a skillfully written, passionate, believable love story, and probably tied for being my favorite in the series.

Other Things to Know:
This is chronologically the first book of five in Kleypas’s Hathaways series. The five Hathaways we follow are: Amelia (eldest sister, managing and used to being mother hen), Win (the most beautiful, refined sister who has perhaps always loved the gypsy their family rescued, Hathaways #2, Seduce Me at Sunrise), Poppy (the one who longs to be conventional, and instead marries an eccentric hotelier in Hathaways #3, Tempt Me at Twilight), Leo (incorrigible rake who falls for the strict governess in Hathaways #4, Married by Morning — his inheritance is chronologically the reason for the series), and Beatrix (animal loving eccentric who falls in love with a tortured former soldier in Hathaways #5, Love in the Afternoon)

You don’t technically need to read them in order, but because the characters are a little more intricately tied together than, say, those in Kleypas’s Wallflowers series, it’s actually probably best if you do go through the series chronologically.  There’s a lot more build up of the different characters between the books that makes the payoff better for some of the later stories if you start from the beginning.

Also, the first time you meet Cam is technically in Devil in Winter (book #3 of Kleypas’ Wallflower series), but he’s clearly much younger and greener, and while that’s an excellent series (a little stronger overall than this one), you don’t need that introduction to enjoy this book.

Comparisons to Other Authors:
Lisa Kleypas is a best-selling author, and though she has focused more recently on modern romance, she is one of the queens of the historical romance genre.  Compared to Stephanie Laurens, Kleypas tends to have more individualized characters, and a better supporting cast, but less sensual/erotic love scenes.  She’s also great at exploring a particular topic or setting – some of her books happen in gambling clubs, others in the theatre, and others feature protagonists who are deeply aware of social/political issues, helping to really establish you in the setting/time period in a way that not all historical romance authors can.  She’s less funny and her characters and scenarios are less light-hearted than Julia Quinn’s, but her characters tend to have a greater degree of physical attraction/sensuality compared to Quinn’s.

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