Beatrix Hathaway has yet to meet a man she would like to call husband. The last unwed member of the Hathaway family, Beatrix is definitely one of the most eccentric. She has an affinity for animals, a kindness for hedgehogs in particular, and is often lonely even in the midst of her loving family. Perhaps that is why she agreed to answer Captain Christopher Phelan’s first letter. He may have been writing to Beatrix’s friend, Prudence, but the instant Beatrix read his first words, she felt as if he was writing to her. Thus an unlikely, and highly secretive, friendship springs up. Beatrix loves writing to Christopher but she hates that she has to hide her identity.
Christopher falls in love with “Prudence” throughout their correspondence. She is the only person who grounds him amidst the fighting in the Crimea. When it is finally time to go home, he is ready to claim his love. Unfortunately, it turns out that finding Prudence, finding true love, is not as easy as it should be.
What will Beatrix do when Christopher discovers her deception? She is sure he could never love a woman so outside of society’s norm. But as she sees him suffering, all she wants to do is help him and love him. Will these two ever find each other?
As each Hathaway member found their true love, I was waiting on tenterhooks to see who Beatrix would fall in love with. Christopher was not what I was expecting at all, but he ended up being just what Beatrix needed in her life. Christopher suffered from some very intense dark episodes due to the war and I felt like Beatrix was just the comfort, the lightness, he needed in his life. They complemented each other very well, seemingly opposites, but holding many of the same values close to their heart.
Beatrix seemed to grow up a bit in this story, too, as she started to better understand what Christopher had gone through in the war. Their correspondence was the beginning of a beautiful and deep romance and I actually wished I had seen more of their letters throughout the course of the book, rather than just at the beginning.
Love in the Afternoon is downright charming. Kleypas has a deft touch with characterization and inner struggle and she showcases that talent beautifully in both Beatrix and Christopher. I was sad to see this family saga come to an end but could not have wished for a more appropriate ending for Beatrix.