Someone to Watch Over Me by Lisa Kleypas

4 Mar

Grade: A

Last week, I was reading a book with a vampire for a hero and a were-something for a heroine and thought to myself, “Okay, that’s it. I’ve had enough.” I’ve reached my paranormal threshold. No more vampires, were-things, witches, demons… but I’m not sick of faeries yet, so keep those coming, authors! Anyway, I resolved my ennui by indulging myself with some good hard Dick… Philip K, that is, and some Octavia Butler. When I started lookin’ for luuuurve in my reading material, I picked up the one author that gives good romance and has never led me wrong (except once or twice in the past). Lisa Kleypas writes yummy, imperfect males and strong, sympathetic heroines (most of the time). What I also like about Kleypas’ work is that she doesn’t write about conventional heroes and heroines. The hero in this book, for example, is not a Duke or an Earl, but a Bow Street Runner… a cop, who comes from very humble beginnings. The heroine, on the other hand, is a whoooore. She’s not a streetwalker, but she is a prostitute to the wealthy, powerful men of England’s upper-nobility. Edgy! What made this book really work for me was the hero. Oh, Grant Morgan… he’s a supercop and super-lover and super-detective-spy rolled into one. And… I just really, really loved the way he loved the heroine. He doesn’t wait till the last few pages to tell her, either. Nope, he tells her in the middle! Unheard of! That Lisa Kleypas… she’s a visionary.

Vivien (Pretty Woman… walking down the street… pretty woman… the kind I’d like to meet…) Rose Duvall is the most celebrated courtesan in London. She has the ton’s most powerful, wealthiest men fighting to be her protector and their wives hating her and plotting her demise for stealing their husbands. Because Vivien is London’s most wanted courtesan, she can get away with acting like a complete brat. She doesn’t care about anyone else but herself, is intelligent enough to manipulate any situation to her advantage, and has the tendency to use and abuse men, then drop them when she’s tired of them. Which is why it is no surprise to anyone when she soon finds herself beaten, strangled, and floating face-down in the freezing waters of the Thames. She is pulled to the docks by a dockworker who assumes she is dead, and wakes up a day later in a very nice, very warm bedroom, half-dead from hypothermia, and unable to remember what happened or who she is (yes, children, it’s an Amnesia Story, woo-hoo!). Sitting by her side is a very, very attractive man who informs her in no uncertain terms that she is a dirty, dirty whore… and oh, he’s her boyfriend. Though Vivien can’t remember who he is—-and she’s quite certain that amnesia or not, she would never forget such a man—-she does know that the man sets her pulse racing and her girly parts tingling. The man also tells her that someone tried to kill her—-the bruises decorating her throat like a necklace convinces her of that—-and that she will be staying with him until he finds the killer.

Our hero, Grant Morgan, is an infamous Bow Street Runner and damn good at what he does. He is so good, in fact, that there are dime-store novels (ha’ penny) inspired by him and his exploits and people can’t get enough of them. He’s also made some wise investments in the past so he’s plenty rich and lives in a very nice house. He gets invited to the best ton parties, if only ’cause he’s so notorious and the ladies luuuurve him, and he is fully aware that he is nonetheless an outsider and will never truly be a part of their world. In one of these parties, he encounters Vivien Rose Duvall and finds himself entranced by her hotness. He knows she’ll never go for him because he is neither titled nor super-duper powerful, but he’s a confident kind of guy, and figures he should give it a shot anyway. As soon as he gets to Vivien’s side and she opens her mouth, however, his erection totally deflates because he immediately sees her for the superficial, manipulative bitch that she is. Vivien attempts to use him to get away from an ardent suitor, but Grant turns her down, and walks away. Naturally, Vivien gets totally pissed and spreads some rumors about him acting like a total dick when she rejected him. Grant gets pissed because people start saying that he’s not so tough after all if he got rejected by some broad. Grant figures he could finally get back at her when he finds her practically dying (he is the investigating officer) and takes her back to his house. His plan is this: make her think they are lovers, get her to fall in love with him, use her up, and callously dump like she has done with her many lovers in the past. That’ll show her!

During the course of his investigation of Vivien’s attempted murder, he finds out all kinds of unsavory stuff about her that makes him want to hate her more, but the woman lying helpless in his bedroom is nothing like the woman he knew. No, she seems like a totally different woman. Hmmm... She’s shy, kind to the servants, guileless, and oh, she likes to read! Even as Grant starts to fall in love with her, he knows he shouldn’t because she could only be trying to play him. Oh, and it’s not like there’s a killer running around looking to try again or anything.

Usually, in a Kleypas novel, I totally groove on the hero, while not being so fond of the heroine (they are usually hysterical dingbats who do stupid shit that almost ruin everything and only make trouble for the super-duper awesome hero). Vivien, on the other hand, reacts to her situation and surroundings like a real person with half a brain would. She wakes up in a strange house suffering from amnesia with a darkly handsome stranger brooding over her and what does she do? She. Stays. Put. She doesn’t go running around all over London, trying to “help” Grant discover what happened to her. She just hangs out in his his bedroom, sleeping all day, reading in bed, gossiping with the maids… that’s my kind of heroine. In fact, she gets pretty pissed at him when he tries to involve her with his investigation because she’s afraid he’ll be putting her in harm’s way in order to solve his case and she’d get her butt killed for it. Even though she is initially intimidated of Grant at first and is reluctant to have him touch her, she does acknowledge his attraction to her and vice-versa without spending hours upon hours agonizing over it. She isn’t stupidly stubborn, is clever in her own way, and when her killer finally does catch up to her, she doesn’t hysterically fall all over her feet trying to get away from him. She actually comes up with a pretty good plan, only the killer catches her, anyway… and Grant has to save her. But up to the part where the killer knocks her out and tries to rape her, she was doing pretty well. A+ for trying, you! It was only when she got her memory back and Grant proposed to her that she started to piss me off (and that’s more than three-quarters of the way through… impressive!). She starts wringing her hand, torturing herself with shit like, “he doesn’t really love me, he only feels responsible for me!” and telling Grant she needs time to “find [herself]“. Dummy. While I understood why she did it (it ties up a loose end), I was still irritated by it because it was such a 180 from the established character that I found myself wondering, “Who is this lobotomized Barbie Doll?”

As for Grant Morgan… damn, check out that name. That’s a romance hero’s name right there. Kleypas fans like myself read the novels mostly for the hero. He’s Superman, Batman, and James Bond rolled into one. He’s Mr. Smooth. He’s Too Cool For School. And he had a shitty childhood and a dead brother he blames himself for. He’s the Best Bow Street Runner ever… except when it comes to Vivien, he’s all soft inside. He doesn’t want to trust her because he thinks she’s a vile, scheming whore, but the more he gets to know the woman living in his bedroom, the more he falls in love with her. There’s this beautiful scene in a carriage where the two of them are sitting closely together after Vivien got accosted by a suspect and Grant just becomes so overwhelmed with emotion that he looks at her and says, “I love you.” I died, oh I just died! There are so many of those moments in this book that I couldn’t help but sigh over Grant. He’s your vintage Kleypas hero; oddly enough, I was more fascinated with Vivien than him. I thought he could have been broodier, a little more resistant to his feelings for Vivien… I love me a tortured hero and Grant… just wasn’t tortured enough. If he’d been in Waterloo and suffered from PTSD and maybe had a limp… hot!

The suspense angle of this book was so-so. It was really just the backdrop for Grant and Vivien getting to know each other better. You’ll know the villain the second he pops up because… duh… Grant is immediately suspicious of him. I liked the little “twist,” in the end, and yes, there is one for those of you who are skeeved out over the idea of a WHOOOORE as a heroine. And before you ask, yes, Vivien is really a whore. She is not a fake-whore who turns out to be a virgin… she is a whore. As for the background, I would have liked to learn more about the Bow Street Runners and the London underground. For a hero who’s known for his exploits and busting criminal scum, we see surprisingly little of Grant’s supposed job. He interviews some people, scares a couple of them, but… that’s it. I would have liked to see him beat up a couple of thugs and pimps, I think. I could have used more of Grant beating some people up, for sure. Thankfully, there are two more books in this series: Lady Sophia’s Lover which stars Ross Cannon, Grant’s boss (yes, there will be sequel-baiting, but not intrusively so), and Worth Any Price featuring Nick Gentry who does NOT show up in this book at all.

The last Lisa Kleypas book I read and did not finish was Scandal in the Spring. I wasn’t planning on reading her again for a very long time ’cause I got glommed out, but she’s got a contemporary coming out and I’m excited to read it even though Sista Jane at Dear Author gave it a C+. It’s coming out in hard-cover (Kleypas’ first) and the price is a little steep for a substandard-sounding debut release. I’ll have to wait for the MMP. In the meantime, I do believe I shall be re-reading Kleypas’ backlist. I think I’ll start with Ross and Nick. Yay! Or I could study for my finals. Whatever.

Amnesia button courtesy of the lovely L.E. Bryce.

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17 Responses to “Someone to Watch Over Me by Lisa Kleypas”

  1. Darragha-hahaha March 4, 2007 at 5:29 pm #

    Buy me this book, Bam. It sounds great. I’ve read several Kleypas novels and loved ‘em all.

    Incidently, I just finished JUST FINISHED my antho novella for “Of Flesh and Blood” a Liquid Silver Books vampire anthology. Damn. I know…you and Mrs. G. are tired of paranormals. Well, poo. Mine has a bi-racial heroine and a good-guy vampire/shifter and a May/December relationship between the heroine and the “bad guy” who is an 18-year old boy. The story’s called “Polishing Saber” and Bammie! I want you to review it when it comes out! Please… :)

  2. Janeo March 4, 2007 at 11:03 pm #

    Lisa Kleypas is the joint to be sure. When I need a historical romance fix, I pick up Lisa K. Try ‘Dreaming of You’ and ‘Suddenly You’. Juicy! I think I’ll read them again, like right now.

    I know what you mean about the paranormals. I just finished reading for the second time, “Slave to Sensation’ by Nalini Singh. Even though I loved it, I am just filled to the brim with the stuff. Were…whatevah and mates forevah. Bah! Give me some good ole Dukes and Rakes and Rogues.

    I enjoy your blog and this is my first time posting. Keep up the good work girl!

    Janeo
    Just a farmer’s wife with way too much time to read.

  3. bam March 5, 2007 at 9:24 am #

    Janeo, I’ve read “Dreaming of You” and “Suddenly You”. They were wonderful.

    Darragha, I’ll need to get over my paranormal-ennui first. :)

  4. meardaba March 5, 2007 at 9:41 am #

    I think it ate my last comment. :(

    I loved Lady Sophia’s Lover, as Ross is hawt. Oh, and younger than Sophia, which is cool. The dynamics were brilliant between S and R, and I think you’d probably enjoy them.

    Then again, I read it a while ago. So what do I know?

  5. Jackie March 5, 2007 at 9:58 am #

    A whore for a heroine? I’m sold on that alone.

  6. web March 5, 2007 at 12:15 pm #

    I dunno, I think you cut Kleypas a little too much slack on the fake-whore thing. Jackie, you’re gonna be disappointed.

  7. bam March 5, 2007 at 12:19 pm #

    Web, I told the truth. Vivien is a true prostitute. :)

  8. L.E. Bryce March 5, 2007 at 2:11 pm #

    And you totally didn’t ask me for an Amnesiac Plotline button? Shame on you!

  9. Jennifer March 5, 2007 at 2:12 pm #

    I totally went through a Lisa Kleypas phase about two years ago and read her entire backlist. I LOVED this whole group about the bow street runners, especially Lady Sophia’s Lover. It might be my favorite by Kleypas.

    This is my first post here, but I have been lurking for about 6 months and have to say that I love you, Bam! I cannot count all the times I spewed liquid beverage on my computer screen while reading a review.

  10. Dawn March 5, 2007 at 4:39 pm #

    Bam I have lurked for a while too, but your site has become a must-read for me.

    I just went though a burst of reading a bunch of Kleypas and my only problem is that she tends to rush her characters into some sort of sex scene too quickly. I mean, I know that is part of the reason we read these things but it is distracting to me when things are happening and the hero/heroine don’t even know each others names. You would think with the Regency setting, the ton all that mess, the heroine wouldn’t let the hero finger her in some ballroom water closet before page 40.

    I think that is why I tend to prefer Julia Quinn – sometimes her sex scenes are tucked so far in the back you wonder if it will even happen before the book ends.

  11. Janeo March 5, 2007 at 9:58 pm #

    Hey Dawn et al,

    I like Lisa K’s sex scenes and their pacing which is different I think for each novel. Together with anything by Mary J Blige just makes me flutter all over, especially in ‘Dreaming of You’. Sara in that blue dress and Derek not knowing it was her….’ Someone please call 911. I’m about to be shot down’.

    I’ve eyed some Julia Quinn novels but have yet to read one. Any recommends on that front?

    As far as fingering tons… I like it when they get so hot and heavy that they wham bam (no pun intended Bam ;) ) before they know each others names and then comes the fallout. It is better than chocolate for me. And less fattening.

    Janeo
    on da farm

  12. KariBelle March 7, 2007 at 8:59 pm #

    The Bow Street trilogy is my favorite Kleypas series. Someone to Watch Over Me was probably my least favorite but still a good read. My biggest problem was what Web alluded to. A bit of deus ex machina in the form of a plot device that is almost as cliched as the amnesia angle, but I did like V so I was able to get past it.

    Lady Sophia’s Lover was great and the sex scenes were really hot. Worth Any Price is my favorite. If you like tortured heroes then Nick Gentry is your man!

  13. KariBelle March 7, 2007 at 9:06 pm #

    I forgot. Also noteworthy about Worth Any Price is that we get our first introduction to Marcus Marsden, Lord Westcliff, who is in each of the next FIVE books in some way or another. He is the hero in It Happened One Autumn.

    I am reading Sugar Daddy now. I recieved it for a BD gift. I’m only one chapter in but so far, I like it. I will let you know.

  14. bam March 7, 2007 at 9:51 pm #

    Nope, Westcliff was actually introduced in Again the Magic. He was the heroine’s not-so-handsome, but powerful-looking brother.

    Btw, I really, REALLY adored Nick Gentry. I liked his relationship with—ah hell, I can’t even remember the heroine’s name now, but Nick was just yummy.

    … my fave Kleypas hero, though, is still Sebastian from Devil in Winter.

  15. KariBelle March 9, 2007 at 6:04 pm #

    I beg to differ. Again the Magic was published in Jan 2004. Worth Any Price was published year earlier in Jan 2003. When Nick found Lottie she was working as a lady’s companion to the Dowager Countess Westcliff. When Nick made his and Lottie’s identities known, Westcliff offered to marry Lottie to protect her from her nasty old fiance. The next book after ATM was the first of the Wallflower series so he has been in the lsat 6 of her historicals.

    Nick Gentry is my all time favorite Kleypas hero. I have read that book three times. Sebastian is my second favorite.

    Sugar Daddy, btw, was pretty good. Maybe not worth the hardcover price, but I did enjoy it and I was impressed to see an author change her style so dramatically and still be good. If it had been a paperback I would have given it an A but since my expectations are higher for a $17.00 hardcover, I give it a B. It was a damn sight better than the last hardcover I purchased, written by the evil author who shall remain nameless but seems to have hypnotized me into buying her books even though I know the are going to suck donkey dick. (I hope she doesn’t read your blog because then she will get ideas and we will have to read all about a certian someone getting fucked by a weredonkey.)

  16. Imani March 15, 2007 at 2:41 pm #

    You wouldn’t happen to be talking about Laurell K Hamilton would you? Because that sounds like something she would do. (Thank God I dropped that Anita Blake after Cerulean Dreams or whatever it was called.)

    But yes, Westcliff was first introduced in “Worth Any Price”, the book with one of the best heroes ever!

    (I’m another lurker.)

  17. Sandra April 29, 2007 at 8:53 am #

    It’s funny how tastes differ. I have read the whole “Bow Street Trilogy”- Worth Any price, Lady Sophia’s Lover and Someone To Watch Over me – and did not consider any of them to be keepers. And of her ‘Wallflower” series, the only keeper was Devil In Winter. My favorite Kleypas novels are Suddenly You ( which is getting dogeared from rereading. Jack Devlin is HOT) and Where Dreams Begin (Zachary Bronson is almost as hot as JD). I keep reading raves about Dreaming of You, but I have yet to find a copy. I shall keep looking. Oh, by the way, I just found an early Kleypas called Prince of Dreams at the Sally Anne. Anybody have an opinion on it?