THEN CAME YOU (Gamblers #1) by Lisa Kleypas
Mass Market Paperback, 371 pages
Published June 1st 1993 by Avon
Genre: historical romance novel
Rating: 4.5 stars
Lisa Kleypas delivers this story with her signature style: utterly descriptive prose, a riveting plot, highly nuanced characters , including the secondary ones. What impressed me the most, though, is the fact that everything seems to be heightened, magnified, overloaded: a plot featuring the abduction of a child and a blackmail, the protagonists’ personalities with their extreme behavior, their initial antagonism, their love/hate relationship, somehow the length and the complexity of the novel itself.
The most remarkable features of this novel are the plot and, of course, the heroine’s personality. Headstrong and charming Lily Lawson possesses a vibrant beauty (not your usual English rose), the vocabulary of a seaman and a taste for unconventional behavior, sometimes so extreme that she’s almost disturbing. It will take a while for the male hero Alex to understand the real reasons for such recklessness.
The character I have loved the most, however, is Alex Lord Raiford. He is a man good to the core. Apparently restrained and moderate, clad in an armor of bitter isolation, duty, and loneliness, he is able of an awe-inspiring temper and steel resolution, ready to move mountains in order to protect the woman he loves. Alex and Lily are alike in their pride, temper and obstinacy: despite the rough beginning of their relationship, theirs is actually a match made in Heaven. When two souls are meant for each other like Lily’s and Alex’s are, a man who had died inside can “rejoin the rank of the living”, and a woman with an untamed spirit “can wake the dead”. Responsible and compassionate Alex turns into an unusually devoted husband and surprises Lily in every possible way: he is gentle when she was expecting him to be brutal, he is a generous lover when she feared he would be abusive, he is capable of an incredible depth of feelings when she thought him cold and unkind. She can’t but fall in love with him and so do I.
And then came the unfathomable Derek Craven…if I wasn’t aware that there is a chance of redemption and happiness for him in the second installment of the Gamblers series, I would feel completely uncomfortable with such wily and crude character, even sorry for him, because “the brutal deprivation of his youth had crippled his heart in some terrible way” and is now preventing him from revealing the true nature of his feelings for Lily. Thank Heavens for Kleypas’ thriving creativity, he will have his chance in Dreaming Of You.