|The Hathaways are back in Married by Morning and this time we get to see the fireworks between Leo Hathaway, the newly titled Lord Ramsey, and the governess Catherine Marks. Readers who have read other books in this series know that Leo and Catherine argue constantly and act as though they thoroughly dislike and disapprove of the other. But astute readers knew that there was attraction and a chance for love underneath it all.
The reason the romance finally comes out involves secrets they both have and have carried around for a while. Some are reasonable and other parts are a bit farfetched, but it is romance and Lisa Kleypas does know how to weave the spell.
Leo has just discovered that there was a hidden clause in the mess of paperwork that went with his inheriting the title from an obscure relative. Apparently part of the land is entailed, but it is not the part that the now newly renovated manor sits on. hat land and fourteen surrounding acres will revert to the old Earl’s wife if Leo has not married and produced a male heir within five years of attaining the title. He has just a little over a year left. So he must find a bride. Leo was in love as a very young man, and his fiancée died of fever. In his grief, he went through a period of major debauchery including visits to an opium den. He swore he would never get too that place again, hence, he will never love again, and still states that he will only marry if he does not love the woman.
Catherine, on the other hand, has a past that she is ashamed of and fears that if it becomes known, she will be forced to leave the Hathaways, a family she has grown to love and feels a part of. Her half-brother, Harry Rutledge is married to Poppy, one of the sisters, but even that relationship is known to only a select few. Catherine and Harry share a mother, who was apparently not the most motherly type. When Catherine was young, she was sent to live with her grandmother and aunt. They ran a brothel and when Cat was just 15, she was about to be forced to participate in the business and earn her keep. Before anything could happen, Harry came and rescued her, helping her to establish her new identity and become a teacher at a private school. From there, she came to the Hathaways. But Cat knows that the man who was to have her virginity is still out there and she must hide herself from him.
When that man discovers Cat one night at a ball, he confronts her. Leo interrupts, knowing how much of a degenerate this man is since he was once his cohort. The truth comes out and Leo is forced to really look at Cat and his feelings for her. Cat meanwhile, feels the need to run. Their road to love is filled with angst, humor, sexual tension, and a little help from the family’s ferret. But it is an enjoyable journey throughout.
Leo and Cat have both been given an amazing amount of depth. These two are deep thinkers and at the same time, caring individuals. They share their intellect and subtle humor. While both are appalled at the other’s past, neither finds fault, recognizing that each did what had needed to be done and is a better person for having surmounted the odds. Leo, despite his rakehell reputation, is a gentleman and fights his lust admirably. He helps Catherine find her sensual side and helps her to accept that in the right circumstances it is okay for a woman to enjoy the act of lovemaking…that does not make her into what her grandmother swore she was to become.
The threat from the past is a bit overdrawn at times and yet, without it, the romantic climax could not have occurred. Therefore, it is with no regret that I recommend this tale. Married by Morning is a good stand alone novel, but obviously, readers with knowledge of the family will embrace it more fully.