Title: Mine Till Midnight
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Hathaways #1
Publisher: St. Martin's
Mine Till Midnight brings together so many different social status elements, that in my head I could almost differentiate three different 'worlds' all overlapping within one another -- like a large Venn diagram. In one circle you have the upper-class aristocratic society, with their preconceived notions on what defines what a 'civilized' person is -- how they should act, talk, dress, and what social circles they should be a part of. In another circle, you have a nomadic race called the Roma's. They are the complete opposite side of the spectrum from the aristocrats. They believe in living life outdoors, traveling, no materialistic possessions whats-so-ever, and a tight hold on family and tradition. And, somewhere in the middle, you have the Hathaways, a dysfunctional family with issues, with one foot in to the aristocratic society, and one foot towards the roman. Put them all together, and it makes for some unique conflicts, challenges, and obstacles.
Amelia Hathaway, the heroine, is the eldest sister, left to take care of the Hathaway siblings after the deaths of her mother and father. Technically the job should lie with her brother, Leo -- a.k.a. Lord Ramsey -- but he has taken a mental turn for the worse. Drinking, gambling, avoidance, misery, and disregard for his family and self are the only things Leo is capable of feeling and doing. Therefore, it falls on Amelia's shoulders to make sure the family is together, healthy, and safe. She makes the strategic decision to sell their city home to take up residence in their country estate, hoping that the change in scenery is the best for their family -- specifically her brother, away from bars and gambling.
Amelia first meets the hero, Cam Rohan, when she goes to a gambling house in search of her missing brother. Cam inadvertently begins helping her find Leo, and during their brief nearness, begins to feel a pull towards her that he's never felt before. One that he doesn't like having. For one, he recognizes Amelia for what she is -- a spinster. For two, despite his working for the gadjos, Cam thinks he's tied enough to the society he dislikes and doesn't want tie himself any further with pursuing Ms. Hathaway. But circumstances would bring their paths together time-after-time, something his Romany beliefs of fate can not ignore.
My favorite character of this story has to be Cam. He's such a contradiction. He's Roman (gypsie) with beliefs that don't match the society he lives and surrounds himself in, yet he was taken in as a young child to live with an aristocratic family, has been given a gift of high mathematical skills that makes him valuable to his employer, revered and respected by other aristocratic people, and is very, very wealthy -- something looked down upon by his fellow Romans.
Cam's personality is a combination of great traits: quiet, witty, smart, reserved, confident, protective, down-to-earth, and caring. His exotic good looks, paired with a mysterious tatoo and 'pagan' diamond earing make him wanted as a novelty among the upper-class woman. But Amelia's distant and accepting demeanor make her an anomaly, something Cam can't resist. Another trait that I loved about Cam was that when he made up his mind to pursue and make Amelia his, he would stop at nothing to make that happen! YUM! I loved the way that the author demonstrated the constant struggle between what Cam felt and wanted. Both went hand-in-hand, yet were so separate at times. Until, of course, he made up his mine about wanting Amelia, then it was game on! The character development for Cam was well paced and well played out.
Amelia was another great character, but sometimes her martyr-type personality got a little much. After a bad ending to an engagement, she pretty much wrote herself off to any romantic notions, and resigned herself a twenty-six-year-old spinster. And even when she starts to feel something for Cam, she can't stop herself from convincing herself that she doesn't ever want to get married -- even despite the fact that Cam has demonstrated just how much he cares for her by going above and beyond to help her family -- especially her siblings who she claims are her number one priority.
Amelia's attitude toward marriage was just one of the little quirks that bothered me. I completely understood that she felt that it was left up to her to care for her family since her brother was pretty much worthless throughout the book. But I wanted her so badly to let herself find happiness. She was concerned about trying to marry off her siblings to help financially support the family, but when she had wealthy and caring Cam pursuing her, she didn't even give it thought. My strongest praise of Amelia is her acceptance towards the Roma culture. She doesn't necessary view them as 'different' in the sense of it being bad and not to be trusted. It probably stems from the fact that one of her 'adopted' family members is Roma, and he has been a strength for her family. In fact, Merripen is one of the most dependable and trustworthy of her family, someone she relies heavily on.
I liked the thought of a dysfunctional aristocratic family trying to 'make it' back during the regency period, even though at times it frustrated me. All I kept envisioning and comparing the two youngest girls in Mine Till Midnight, was with the two youngest girls from Pride and Prejudice. Amelia's siblings range from the eldest being her brother Leo (28) down to the younger ones, Poppy and Beatrix (a young eccentric klepto). Win is closer to Amelia's age, but has never fully recovered from a near-death bought of small pox. What makes Win's story even more fascinating is her nonchalant, innocent relationship with their 'adopted' family member, Merripen, also a Roma! I can't wait to read their story! :) Leo was probably the most annoying character to me. He lacked compassion towards his family, which is blamed on a curse and a haunting (that's all I'm going to say without giving spoilers).
The setting -- 1848, UK, Ramsey Manor in the countryside -- was interesting, as a lot of historical writings take place in cities such as London. The pace of the story was good. I didn't feel like it dragged, although, some of the events seemed a little disjointed, but that may be just me. I also enjoyed the author's voice and thought she did a good job at creating different personalities for the many different characters.
As a side note about the secondary characters, I had read somewhere that some of the characters from a previous series make an appearance in Mine Till Midnight, but since this is my first book my this author, I'm not sure who they were.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story! A dysfunctional family, plagued by a 'curse', trying to keep themselves rooted in their aristocratic surroundings after the death of their parents, makes for some interesting dynamics. Now throw in a sexy, exotic male hell bent on making the most stubborn spinster his, and now you have an even more exciting tale to follow! When these two finally get together sexually, you can't help but like Cam even more!
Like I mentioned with the side characters, I'm really looking forward to Amelia's sister, Win's story, with her relationship with Roma, Merripen. I am more than convinced that one will be hot!
I would recommend this book to anyone who like historicals that introduce very different heritage relationships -- something very uncommon during the mid-nineteenth century aristocratic society -- and give them happy endings. The hero is yummy and the heroine is a stubborn spinster who realizes her goal of living single may never come to pass.