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Love in the Afternoon

Love in the Afternoon

4.2 484
by Lisa Kleypas

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Love in the Afternoon continues the Hallaways series by Victorian romance author Lisa Kleypas.

As a lover of animals and nature, Beatrix Hathaway has always been more comfortable outdoors than in the ballroom. Even though she participated in the London season in the past, the classic beauty and free-spirited Beatrix has never been swept away or


Love in the Afternoon continues the Hallaways series by Victorian romance author Lisa Kleypas.

As a lover of animals and nature, Beatrix Hathaway has always been more comfortable outdoors than in the ballroom. Even though she participated in the London season in the past, the classic beauty and free-spirited Beatrix has never been swept away or seriously courted…and she has resigned herself to the fate of never finding love. Has the time come for the most unconventional of the Hathaway sisters to settle for an ordinary man—just to avoid spinsterhood?
Captain Christopher Phelan is a handsome, daring soldier who plans to marry Beatrix's friend, the vivacious flirt Prudence Mercer, when he returns from fighting abroad. But, as he explains in his letters to Pru, life on the battlefield has darkened his soul—and it's becoming clear that Christopher won't come back as the same man. When Beatrix learns of Pru's disappointment, she decides to help by concocting Pru's letters to Christopher for her. Soon the correspondence between Beatrix and Christopher develops into something fulfilling and deep…and when Christopher comes home, he's determined to claim the woman he loves. What began as Beatrix's innocent deception has resulted in the agony of unfulfilled love—and a passion that can't be denied…

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St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Hathaways , #5
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343 KB

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Chapter One
Hampshire, England Eight months earlier
It all began with a letter.
To be precise, it was the mention of the dog.
“What about the dog?” Beatrix Hathaway asked. “Whose dog?”
Her friend Prudence, the reigning beauty of Hampshire County, looked up from the letter that had been sent by her suitor, Captain Christopher Phelan.
Although it wasn’t proper for a gentleman to correspond with an unmarried girl, they had arranged to send letters back and forth with Phelan’s sister-in-law as a go-between.
Prudence sent her a mock frown. “Really, Bea, you’re displaying far more concern over a dog than you ever have for Captain Phelan.”
“Captain Phelan has no need of my concern,” Beatrix said pragmatically. “He has the concern of every marriageable miss in Hampshire. Besides, he chose to go to war, and I’m sure he’s having a lovely time strutting about in his smart uniform.”
“It’s not at all smart,” came Prudence’s glum reply. “In fact, his new regiment has dreadful uniforms—very plain, dark green with black facings, and no gold braiding or lace at all. And when I asked why, Captain Phelan said it was to help the Rifles stay concealed, which makes no sense, as everyone knows that a British soldier is far too brave and proud to conceal himself during battle. But Christopher—that is, Captain Phelan—said it had something to do with . . . oh, he used some French word . . .”
“Camouflage?” Beatrix asked, intrigued.
“Yes, how did you know?”
“Many animals have ways of camouflaging themselves to keep from being seen. Chameleons, for example. Or the way an owl’s feathering is mottled to help it blend with the bark of its tree. That way—”
“Heavens, Beatrix, do not start another lecture on animals.”
“I’ll stop if you tell me about the dog.”
Prudence handed her the letter. “Read it for yourself.”
“But Pru,” Beatrix protested as the small, neat pages were pushed into her hands. “Captain Phelan may have written something personal.”
“I should be so fortunate! It’s utterly gloomy. Nothing but battles and bad news.”
Although Christopher Phelan was the last man Beatrix would ever want to defend, she couldn’t help pointing out, “He is away fighting in the Crimea, Pru. I’m not sure there are many pleasant things to write about in war time.”
“Well, I have no interest in foreign countries, and I’ve never pretended to.”
A reluctant grin spread across Beatrix’s face. “Pru, are you certain that you want to be an officer’s wife?”
“Well, of course . . . most commissioned soldiers never go to war. They’re very fashionable men-about-town, and if they agree to go on half pay, they have hardly any duties and they don’t have to spend any time at all with the regiment. And that was the case with Captain Phelan, until he was alerted for foreign service.” Prudence shrugged. “I suppose wars are always inconveniently timed. Thank heavens Captain Phelan will return to Hampshire soon.”
“Will he? How do you know?”
“My parents say the war will be over by Christmas.”
“I’ve heard that as well. However, one wonders if we aren’t severely underestimating the Russians’ abilities, and overestimating our own.”
“How unpatriotic,” Prudence exclaimed, a teasing light in her eyes.
“Patriotism has nothing to do with the fact that the War Office, in its enthusiasm, didn’t do nearly enough planning before it launched thirty thousand men to the Crimea. We have neither adequate knowledge of the place, nor any sound strategy for its capture.”
“How do you know so much about it?”
“From the Times. It’s reported on every day. Don’t you read the papers?”
“Not the political section. My parents say it’s ill-bred for a young lady to take an interest in such things.”
“My family discusses politics every night at dinner, and my sisters and I all take part.” Beatrix paused deliberately before adding with an impish grin, “We even have opinions.”
Prudence’s eyes widened. “My goodness. Well, I shouldn’t be surprised. Everyone knows your family is . . . different.”
“Different” was a far kinder adjective than was often used to describe the Hathaway family. The Hathaways were comprised of five siblings, the oldest of which was Leo, followed by Amelia, Winnifred, Poppy, and Beatrix. After the death of their parents, the Hathaways had gone through an astonishing change of fortune. Although they were common born, they were distantly related to an aristocratic branch of the family. Through a series of unexpected events, Leo had inherited a viscountcy for which he and his sisters hadn’t been remotely prepared. They had moved from their small village of Primrose Place to the Ramsay estate in the southern county of Hampshire.
After six years the Hathaways had managed to learn just enough to accommodate themselves in good society. However, none of them had learned to think like the nobility, nor had they acquired aristocratic values or mannerisms. They had wealth, but that was not nearly as important as breeding and connections. And whereas a family in similar circumstances would have endeavored to improve their situations by marrying their social betters, the Hathaways had so far chosen to marry for love.
As for Beatrix, there was doubt as to whether she would marry at all. She was only half civilized, spending most of her time out-of-doors, riding or rambling through the woodlands, marsh, and meadows of Hampshire. Beatrix preferred the company of animals to people, collecting injured and orphaned creatures and rehabilitating them. The creatures that couldn’t survive on their own in the wild were kept as pets, and Beatrix occupied herself with caring for them. Out-of-doors, she was happy and fulfilled. Indoors, life was not nearly so perfect.
More and more frequently, Beatrix had become aware of a chafing sense of dissatisfaction. Of yearning. The problem was that Beatrix had never met a man who was right for her. Certainly none of the pale, overbred specimens of the London drawing rooms she had frequented. And although the more robust men in the country were appealing, none of them had the unnameable something Beatrix longed for. She dreamed of a man whose force of will matched her own. She wanted to be passionately loved . . . challenged . . . overtaken.
Beatrix glanced at the folded letter in her hands.
It wasn’t that she disliked Christopher Phelan as much as she recognized that he was inimical to everything she was. Sophisticated and born to privilege, he was able to move with ease in the civilized environment that was so alien to her. He was the second son of a well-to-do local family, his maternal grandfather an earl, his father’s family distinguished by a significant shipping fortune.
Although the Phelans were not in line for a title, the oldest son, John, would inherit the Riverton estate in Warwickshire upon the earl’s death. John was a sober and thoughtful man, devoted to his wife, Audrey.
But the younger brother, Christopher, was another sort of man entirely. As often happened with second sons, Christopher had purchased an army commission at the age of twenty-two. He had gone in as a cornet, a perfect occupation for such a splendid-looking fellow, since his chief responsibility was to carry the cavalry colors during parades and drills. He was also a great favorite among the ladies of London, where he constantly went without proper leave, spending his time dancing, drinking, gaming, purchasing fine clothes, and indulging in scandalous love affairs.
Beatrix had met Christopher Phelan on two occasions, the first at a local dance, where she had judged him to be the most arrogant man in Hampshire. The next time she had met him was at a picnic, where she had revised her opinion: he was the most arrogant man in the entire world.
“That Hathaway girl is a peculiar creature,” Beatrix had overhead him say to a companion.
“I find her charming and original,” his companion had protested. “And she can talk horses better than any woman I’ve ever met.”
“Naturally,” came Phelan’s dry rejoinder. “She’s more suited to the stables than the drawing room.”
From then on, Beatrix had avoided him whenever possible. Not that she minded the implied comparison to a horse, since horses were lovely animals with generous and noble spirits. And she knew that although she wasn’t a great beauty, she had her own charms. More than one man had commented favorably on her dark brown hair and blue eyes.
These moderate attractions, however, were nothing compared to Christopher Phelan’s golden splendor. He was as fair as Lancelot. Gabriel. Perhaps Lucifer, if one believed that he had once been the most beautiful angel in heaven. Phelan was tall and silver eyed, his hair the color of dark winter wheat touched by the sun. His form was strong and soldierly, the shoulders straight and strong, the hips slim. Even as he moved with indolent grace, there was something undeniably potent about him, something selfishly predatory.
Recently Phelan had been one of the select few to be culled from various regiments to become part of the Rifle Brigade. The “Rifles,” as they were called, were an unusual brand of soldier, trained to use their own initiative. They were encouraged to take up positions forward of their own front lines and pick off officers and horses that were usually beyond target range. Because of his singular marksmanship skills, Phelan had been promoted to a captaincy in the Rifle Brigade.
It had amused Beatrix to reflect that the honor probably hadn’t pleased Phelan at all. Especially since he’d been obliged to trade his beautiful Hussars uniform, with its black coat and abundant gold braiding, for a plain dark green one.
“You’re welcome to read it,” Prudence said as she sat at her dressing table. “I must repair my coiffure before we go on our walk.”
“Your hair looks lovely,” Beatrix protested, unable to see any flaw in the elaborately pinned twist of blond braids. “And we’re only walking to the village. None of the townspeople will know or care if your coiffure isn’t perfect.”
“I’ll know. Besides, one never knows whom one might encounter.”
Accustomed as she was to her friend’s ceaseless preening, Beatrix grinned and shook her head. “All right. If you’re certain you don’t mind my looking at Captain Phelan’s letter, I’ll just read the part about the dog.”
“You’ll fall asleep long before you get to the dog,” Prudence said, expertly inserting a hairpin into a twisted braid.
Beatrix looked down at the scrawled lines. The words looked cramped, tight coils of letters ready to spring from the page.
Dear Prudence,
I’m sitting in this dusty tent, trying to think of something eloquent to write. I’m at wit’s end. You deserve beautiful words, but all I have left are these: I think of you constantly. I think of this letter in your hand and the scent of perfume on your wrist. I want silence and clear air, and a bed with a soft white pillow . . .
Beatrix felt her eyebrows lifting, and a quick rise of heat beneath the high collar of her dress. She paused and glanced at Prudence. “You find this boring?” she asked mildly, while her blush spread like spilled wine on linen.
“The beginning is the only good part,” Prudence said. “Go on.”
. . . Two days ago in our march down the coast to Sebastopol, we fought the Russians at the Alma River. I’m told it was a victory for our side. It doesn’t feel like one. We’ve lost at least two thirds of our regiment’s officers, and a quarter of the noncommissioned men. Yesterday we dug graves. They call the final tally of dead and wounded the “butcher’s bill.” Three hundred and sixty British dead so far, and more as soldiers succumb to their wounds.
One of the fallen, Captain Brighton, brought a rough terrier named Albert, who is undoubtedly the most badly behaved canine in existence. After Brighton was lowered into the ground, the dog sat by his grave and whined for hours, and tried to bite anyone who came near. I made the mistake of offering him a portion of a biscuit, and now the benighted creature follows me everywhere. At this moment he is sitting in my tent, staring at me with half-crazed eyes. The whining rarely stops. Whenever I get near, he tries to sink his teeth into my arm. I want to shoot him, but I’m too tired of killing.
Families are grieving for the lives I’ve taken. Sons, brothers, fathers. I’ve earned a place in hell for the things I’ve done, and the war’s barely started. I’m changing, and not for the better. The man you knew is gone for good, and I fear you may not like his replacement nearly so well.
The smell of death, Pru . . . it’s everywhere.
The battlefield is strewn with pieces of bodies, clothes, soles of boots. Imagine an explosion that could tear the soles from your shoes. They say that after a battle, wildlflowers are more abundant the next season—the ground is so churned and torn, it gives the new seeds room to take root. I want to grieve, but there is no place for it. No time. I have to put the feelings away somewhere.
Is there still some peaceful place in the world? Please write to me. Tell me about some bit of needlework you’re working on, or your favorite song. Is it raining in Stony Cross? Have the leaves begun to change color?
Christopher Phelan
By the time Beatrix had finished the letter, she was aware of a peculiar feeling, a sense of surprised compassion pressing against the walls of her heart.
It didn’t seem possible that such a letter could have come from the arrogant Christopher Phelan. It wasn’t at all what she had expected. There was a vulnerability, a quiet need, that had touched her.
“You must write to him, Pru,” she said, closing the letter with far more care than she had previously handled it.
“I’ll do no such thing. That would only encourage more complaining. I’ll be silent, and perhaps that will spur him to write something more cheerful next time.”
Beatrix frowned. “As you know, I have no great liking for Captain Phelan, but this letter . . . he deserves your sympathy, Pru. Just write him a few lines. A few words of comfort. It would take no time at all. And about the dog, I have some advice—”
“I am not writing anything about the dratted dog.” Prudence gave an impatient sigh. “You write to him.”
“Me? He doesn’t want to hear from me. He thinks I’m peculiar.”
“I can’t imagine why. Just because you brought Medusa to the picnic . . .”
“She’s a very well behaved hedgehog,” Beatrix said defensively.
“The gentleman whose hand was pierced didn’t seem to think so.”
“That was only because he tried to handle her incorrectly. When you pick up a hedgehog—”
“No, there’s no use telling me, since I’m never going to handle one. As for Captain Phelan . . . if you feel that strongly about it, write a response and sign my name.”
Excerpted from Love in the Afrernoon by Lisa Kleypas.
Copyright © 2010 by Lisa Kleypas.
Published in 2010 by St. Martin's Paperbacks.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.


Meet the Author

Lisa Kleypas is the RITA Award-winning author of many contemporary and historical romance novels, including the Hathaways series, A Wallflower Christmas, and Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor. Her books are published in fourteen languages and are bestsellers all over the world. Kleypas graduated from Wellesley College and published her first novel at the age of 21. In 1985, she was named Miss Massachusetts in the Miss America competition. She lives in Washington with her husband and two children.
Lisa Kleypas is the RITA Award-winning author of many contemporary and historical romance novels, including A Wallflower Christmas, Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor, and Love in the Afternoon. Her books are published in fourteen languages and are bestsellers all over the world. Kleypas graduated from Wellesley College and published her first novel at the age of 21. In 1985, she was named Miss Massachusetts in the Miss America competition. She lives in Washington with her husband and two children.

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Love in the Afternoon 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 484 reviews.
everydayastory More than 1 year ago
Lisa Kleypas is a fantastic romance writer. I read the Hathaways series and absolutely LOVED it. Now Ms. Kleypas is one of my all-time favorite romance writers. I have been waiting for this book for months, and I don't think she could have done a better job with the conclusion of the Hathaways novels. Even though I'm sad to see the family's story end, Beatrix and Christopher capture your heart from the first letter Beatrix writes and onward through the whole novel. Beatrix is conflicted, and Christopher is frustrated. -hopeless romantic sigh- The confusion that ensues is fantastic and I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I did. Do yourself as a favor, whether you are a seasoned romance reader who has been with the Hathaways from the start or this is the first romance novel you have ever looked at. Read. This. Book.
Romance_rookie More than 1 year ago
Love in the Afternoon is the fifth and final book in Lisa Kleypas's Hathaway series. Beatrix, the youngest Hathaway sibling, finally gets her story. It all began innocently enough when Beatrix's friend Prudence reads her a letter from Captain Christopher Phelan. Beatrix never could resist a wounded soul and insists on writing Christopher after Pru callously disregards his letter. Over the course of the next few months Bea becomes Christopher's shining light amid the dark war. After the war ends he plans to come home and clam Pru as his own. Only he doesn't realize it's not Prudence he's in love with, it's Beatrix. Love in the Afternoon while not my favorite in the Hathaway series is still a pleasant read. Beatrix who has always marched to the beat of her own drum prefers the company of animals to that of most people. She is known for her ability to tame almost any wild creature, which is exactly what she does with Christopher once he leaves the war and has to integrate back into society. His gruff and rude behavior is no match for Beatrix's stubborn patience. For some reason I am having a difficult time pin pointing why exactly I didn't like Love in the Afternoon as much as I did the other books in this series. It could be little things, like the fact that Bea and Christopher are apart in the beginning of the book. They exchange a series of letters which establishes their relationship. Then I think that coupled with the fact that it takes Christopher a while to realize that it was Beatrix who wrote the letters and not Pru. Pru is a selfish twit of a girl and Beatrix is obviously a much, much better person and the fact Christopher doesn't see it right away is a big mark against him. Overall it is a cute story. I mean it's Lisa Kleypas. It's still an enjoyable read, just not my favorite.
Nigh10gale More than 1 year ago
As a reader who has become hooked on the Hathaway family, this was one of my favorites and it definitely improved upon where "Married by Morning" left off. Bea is a delightful heroine who always stays true to herself and Christopher is a touching hero; together they melt your heart. Hoping for one last Hathaway novel to sum it all up! Kleypas is one of the very best romance novel writers out there today!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I first started reading this book I felt like i already knew the ending, there was nothing for me to figure out on my own and this disapointed me. But Oh how I was wrong. Kleypas has a unique way of throwing you into the story and making you feel like your one of the characters standing in the background watching the events unfold. Let me tell you, this a wonderful feature. It was also refreshing that the main characters in the novel, Beatrix and Captain Phealan weren't to perfect, they had their flaws just like normal people. Overall decent book if you are into this genre.
loyalfanCG More than 1 year ago
Being a fan of Lisa Kleypas for many years and having many of her books on my "keeper shelves" I must confess I was blown away by this story. I read this when it was first available and have read it many times since and cannot say enough good things about it. The Hathaways were an endearing family and I loved everyone of them, but this one touched my heart. How anyone can scoff at romance writing or writers is beyond me. This tale was moving, sensual and heartwarming as well as funny. I loved this story. It surpassed my expectations.
pinktini More than 1 year ago
This last installment has to be my favorite of the series. There was humor, lots of funny lines from a wide facet of characters. There was angst, Beatrix and her pain over falling in love with someone who thought she was someone else. And of course, the romance, and that goes without explaining. A good factor into why I liked this book so much more over the others, is that I loved the characterization of both Beatrix and Christopher so very much. Christopher was very much a "Mr. Darcy" pre-war, but with a playboy-esque reputation. He comes back a broken man after war. He makes it back home with shred of sanity that Beatrix had helped preserve through her letters. Beatrix is a much more "modern" woman compared to most of the females in the series, wearing men's clothing at times (for convenience during chores). At one point in the novel, Beatrix makes a comment about her inability to "swoon" on command, like many of the London women. I loved this aspect of her character. It's nice change of pace from the "blushing virgin" scenarios. **minor spoilers** There wasn't a moment in the books I didn't like. The beginning was perfect where you get to read the letters Chris and Bea write each other. You can feel the love through their words and its heartbreaking that Chris is picturing someone else during all this. When he comes back, it leads to unresolved sexual tension between the two. The story starts picking up pace when Chris becomes suspicious of the real author of the letters. And even when they do finally get together, the story is only just begun. Because Chris and Bea now have to survive Chris' demons as they try to be together. There's a theme from Pride and Prejudice in their story, but refreshingly different as the characters all have a very vivid personalities and individuality. I thoroughly enjoyed Beatrix's story and was glad to see our favorite sisters and their boys guest star.
BLUEEYEBE More than 1 year ago
This is a priceless, tender love story full of love, patience and humor. This is the perfect conclusion to the Hathaway series. Was not disappointed! Others I recommend are A SLOW BURN, THIN PLACES, EXPLOSION IN PARIS, I CAN SEE YOU, CRACKED HEARTS and I WILL WAIT FOR YOU
bee73086 More than 1 year ago
I really loved this book all the characters are so well written and the story is orignal not the same romantic plot that's written so often. I found the hero to be excellent, I must say I can understand why she fell in love with him. I also liked the dog.
Anonymous 6 months ago
One of my favorite family's¿!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I so loved this story! So romantic! I read this in a day, because, I couldn't put it down and didn't want it to end. Very engaging story right from the prologue and brillant chemistry between the main characters. I highly recommend this book! S.A.K.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely love Lisa Kleypas's books and this one is my absolute favorite. Read it -- you will not be disappointed!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Truly captures the emotions and heartbreak of veterans of war everywhere and over all time. I could have provided the characters for this book from my own friends and family. Very well done. LORRAINE
TomCorc More than 1 year ago
To me this was the best, by far, of the Hathaway series. I liked the way that Christopher's PTSD was described in the context of the times and how he struggled with the blackouts, unease in crowds etc. without having a name for what he was going through. Beatrix was his perfect match with her empathy, recognizing that there was much more to this troubled man than just bizarre behavior. The accurate background of the Crimean War with it's bungled planning mixed with both heroics and the horrible reality of the first "modern" war was great. Kleypas' best effort.
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Oh, my goodness I was happy to read Beatrix's love story. She initially was my least favorite Hathaway girl and now I love her as much as everyone else. This storywas sweet and entertaining. I liked that Lisa Kleypas infused the story of the Hathaway family with important issues. I liked the way that the author wrote about man in her stories that had serious flaws that they had to overcome. There is nothing more infuriating in romance novels as perfect men.
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