Series: Vallerands #1
Published by Avon on August 1, 2002
FINAL DECISION: Certainly not as complex as Kleypas’s more recent works, I enjoyed the main characters: the innocent heroine who is strong and doesn’t cower from the hero and the hero who has a bad reputation but quickly falls for the heroine.
THE STORY: Lysette Kersaint is being forced by her stepfather to marry a man who repulses her. Instead, Lysette decides to take her future in her own hands and escape. But her flight puts her in the path of Maximilien Vallerands. Max decides to use Lysette for revenge against her prospective bridegroom. Lysette, however, has no intention of allowing Max to use her.
OPINION: This book was mixed for me. The story certainly isn’t particularly complex and the characters don’t have a tremendous amount of depth to them, but I really liked the characters.
Lysette is young, but she quickly shows strength and determination and the ability to manage Max who is fifteen years her senior. And the relationship between Lysette and Max is one of the nicest of Kleypas’s books. These two like one another almost from the beginning — and not the sexual liking, but rather the two have an emotional and intellectual connection from early on in this book. I really liked how these characters interacted with one another. I would have expected the older and more experienced Max to crush the young Lysette, but instead their relationship is a combination of her strength and his caring for her enough to include her opinions in his considerations.
If a reader is looking for an equivalent of Kleypas’s later works, there is apt to be disappointment, but I enjoyed this book on its own terms.
WORTH MENTIONING: I really loved the different time period and location. This book takes place in Louisiana at the turn of the 19th century. The book uses Aaron Burr’s post-Hamilton duel history in the Louisiana territories which led to him being tried for treason as the historical underpinning for this story.
CONNECTED BOOKS: WHEN STRANGERS MARRY is the first book in the Vallerands series.
STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.