Jack Devlin is a handsome book publisher who is the illegitimate, cast-off son of an English nobleman and an Irish housemaid. He is known to nearly everyone in London as a ruthless businessman, and a man who refuses to play by society's rules. This side of him is something of a facade intended to cover up a dark, painful past. He never let anyone see the other side of him until he met Amanda Briars. She seemed to have a mysterious power over him that made him want to tell her everything.
Amanda Briars is a talented, intelligent, spinster novelist who views herself as too short, too plump, and too plain to ever catch a husband. In spite of this, she is determined to find out what it is like to be intimate with a man by her 30th birthday. To this end she visits notorious madam, Gemma Bradshaw (also seen in Worth Any Price) with a request to hire a man for a night of passion as a gift to herself. On the night of Amanda's birthday, who should turn up on her doorstep, but Jack Devlin. Amanda mistakes him for the man she's hired, and once he realizes what her intentions were, Jack is all to happy to play along. He woos and seduces her, but because of his deception stops short of completely fulfilling her fantasy. However, Amanda can't seem to stop thinking about him, and one week later, they chance to meet once again at a dinner party where Amanda discovers Jack's true identity.
Jack has purchased the rights to Amanda's unpublished first novel and had come to her home with the intent of brokering a business deal. At first Amanda wants nothing to do with a man of Jack's reputation, but eventually she relents, agreeing to allow him to publish her book. Their close proximity while working together stirs the passionate embers of their first encounter, until they eventually give into their feelings for each other. They agree to a discreet affair, but when rumors threaten to turn into ruinous scandal, Amanda calls it off. Though she soon begins a relationship with Charles Hartley, a kind widower and fellow writer, Amanda still longs for Jack every time she sees him and he for her. Because of his past, Jack does not believe himself capable of love or of being a good husband. He thinks that Charles is the best thing for Amanda, and no matter how miserable it makes him Jack is determined to let her go. However, fate intervenes to bring them back together, and a shared tragedy only serves to deepen their love and commitment to each other.
I am a big fan of Lisa Kleypas's writing, and Suddenly You is yet another worthy effort from her but not my favorite of her books. I have come to respect Ms. Kleypas as a writer who creates intelligent prose and unique sub-plots in her work. While Suddenly You begins with a very unique premise for the hero and heroine's first meeting, I found much of the rest of the book to be standard soap opera plotting with a lot of repressed feelings and misunderstandings. I have also become a fan of the deep, dark emotions found in many of Ms. Kleypas's other books and which I feel she is masterful at writing. While this book certainly was emotional, it did not quite touch me to the core like some of her other works. I think part of the reason for this is the more sarcastic, sharp-tongued banter between the hero and heroine which sometimes worked for me and sometimes didn't. I also don't tend to be a fan of romances that begin as casual affairs. I like to feel that the characters are "in" love before they "make" love, and while one could tell that they cared for one another, I didn't actually sense real love until later in the book. It was also a little sad to see Charles Hartley get dumped, as he was such a lovable guy for a secondary character, but of course we know that Amanda isn't in love with him, and Jack has to win out in the end.
While the book does have some weaknesses, in my opinion, it also has many strengths. Fans of progressive, independent heroines should really like Amanda. Sometimes, these types of heroines can become abrasive and annoying to me, but I found Amanda to be a good balance of nice and naughty, sensitive and independent. Underneath his hard exterior, Jack was a kind, loving hero. One scene from the book that I absolutely loved is when Jack tells Amanda all the things he "prefers" about her, with her intellect being at the top of his list. He eventually succeeds in convincing her that she is beautiful in spite of her imperfect body, a storyline to which I think most women can definitely relate. Being a very progressive thinker himself, Jack is ultimately very supportive of Amanda's ideas and treats her as his equal. There were also a couple of plot twists toward the end of the story that I enjoyed, one of which was rather humorous and the other, though sad and tragic, added much more depth to the characters' relationship. The pacing of the book was good, and as always, Ms. Kleypas does a wonderful job with descriptive details. The love scenes were positively scorching, so much so that I was surprised the book didn't catch fire while I was reading it.;-) Even though this book did not quite measure up to some of Ms. Kleypas's other works for me, it was still a very enjoyable read.
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