Beatrix Hathaway loves to heal wounded creatures, so when a soldier with a wounded soul pours his heart out onto a page, does she really have any choice but to comfort him? Christopher Phelan is known as a war hero with a rakish past, but after seeing all the horrors of war, he doesn't know who he is anymore. Will he take kindly to the fact that a young lady whom he once deemed as quite odd has been the one whose words have sent his heart soaring? Or will her initial deception overshadow their chance at love? Let's visit the Hathaways in Lisa Kleypas' Love in the Afternoon! **more spoilers than a hedgehog has quills!**
Thank you so much to our Patron Camille for choosing Love in the Afternoon for us to review!
If you'd like to listen to a certain segment of our show, here's our outline this week:
0:00 - 10:09: Intro and History Fact
10:09 - 10:21: Trigger Warning (PTSD)
10:21 - 17:58: Synopsis
17:85 - 21:40: Parlour
21:40 - 1:00:00: General Discussion
We include our synopses as a semi-transcription of the episode in our blog posts. You can learn more about how we compose these by reading this article. As a reminder though, our synopses are FULL of spoilers. Read ahead at your own risk :)
TWs: PTSD (nothing too graphic and we do not get into details in the synopsis)
Love in the Afternoon Synopsis:
Beatrix Hathaway is considered an odd duck. She would much rather be with animals than people. This has caused her to have issues in society and has put her at odds with her neighbor, specifically the younger son Christopher, whom she overheard at a party saying very mean things about her and her “odd” nature.
Christopher eventually joins the army and is sent to fight in Crimea. Beatrix’s vain friend Prudence was so taken with his looks, gained permission to write Christopher but after receiving the first letter, she has no interest in responding. Beatrice can tell Christopher is desperately in need of someone to write too so Beatrice takes over writing the letters as Prudence and this goes on for months until Christopher admits his love for her in a letter. Yet he admits love for Prudence, since Beatrix never revealed the deception. Heartbroken she accidentally sends him a letter staying
Dearest Christopher, I can’t write to you again. I’m not who you think I am. I didn’t mean to send love letters, but that is what they became. On their way to you, my words turned into heartbeats on the page. Come back, please come home and find me.
That ends their correspondence but Beatrix is still hungry for news of Christopher. In the interim, Christopher’s brother dies leaving him the heir to his Grandfather’s title and fortune, which renews Prudence’s interest in him.
Finally, after almost two years from the time he initially left, Christopher is back. He is heralded as a hero but Christopher is suffering from PTSD and grief over the death of his brother, so he has no interest in the society he used to love. All he cares about is finding Prudence whose letters helped bring him through the war with a sliver of hope. He is full of questions about the final letter she sent him and he wants answers, since he still feels so strongly connected to the women who wrote him.
While Christopher is still interested in finding Prudence, he spends time at Stony Cross because he is not yet ready for London. While there he encounters Beatrix and her family. While she sometimes irks him, he feels strangely comfortable in her presence.
When he goes to London, Christopher meets Prudence, who does not appear to be the woman from his letters.
It should have been the finest night of his life. But in a matter of minutes he began to realize that the long- awaited relief was no more substantial than a bridge made of smoke. Something was wrong. Something wasn’t real.
In fact, it is very shortly clear that she did not write him any of the letters he received.
Christopher is outraged and already has an inkling who the author could have been. His inkling is confirmed at dinner with Beatrix’s family one night. In one of her letters she wrote to him about a young mule and he told her about his own mule, Hector, from childhood.
Turns out Beatrix has a mule named Hector.
From there Beatrix and Christopher have the usual give and take. They share personal confessions and get to know each other. It seems Beatrix is the only one who notices that Christopher is no longer the man that left and she is the only one there helping him learn who he is off the battlefield.
Finally, the truth of the letters comes out.
Christopher was quiet for a long moment. He had begun to breathe heavily. “Why did you stop?” She sensed how difficult it was for him to ask. But God help her, it was infinitely worse to have to answer. “Because it hurt too much. The words meant too much.” She forced herself to go on, even though she was crying. “I fell in love with you, and I knew I could never have you. I couldn’t pretend to be Pru any longer. I loved you so much, and I couldn’t—”
Christopher wastes no time telling her he loves her as well. And as with any good confession of love, we have our first encounter. Just a quick orgasm for Beatrix from Christopher’s hands.
Then it all goes south when Christopher tells Beatrix that he cannot marry her, not when he still has nightmares and rages. He’s too worried that he would lash out and unintentionally harm her.
Beatrix is not convinced this is a good reason to wait so she takes Christopher home to speak with Cam and Leo. While they share Christopher’s concern, Beatrix would be miserable having an indefinite wait and if he loves her, then they should marry. Christopher is still not convinced and needs to think a bit on the topic
“He’s a man, dear,” Amelia explained kindly. “Sustained thinking is very difficult for them.” “As opposed to women,” Leo retorted, “who have the remarkable ability to make decisions without doing any thinking at all.
Thankfully this does not take long. The next day Christopher agrees to marry her with conditions: they won’t sleep in the same bed (they will do other things in bed though) for fear of his nightmares/his reactions to them and Beatrix is asked to not tempt fate by training half wild horses or climbing trees to put back a nest. He has been asked to not drink strong spirits to deal with his thoughts.
Beatrix would rather not have conditions but wants to marry him anyway.
Of course these conditions are almost immediately broken, when Beatrix falls from the half-wild horse she’s been working with.
The two make up, Christopher’s anger fading quickly, and then we get two full encounters in quick succession.
Things go forward with little excitement. Beatrix and Christopher are married and settling into married life. There is still a bit of contention on the whole not sharing a bed to sleep thing, but other than that, things are going well.
Until Christopher finds out that his friend, whom he thought died in battle from a mortal wound while he was saving another officer, was actually captured and is in fact alive and was brought back to England not long ago. Downside to this news, the man has suffered tremendously and blames all his pain and suffering on Christopher.
Bennett does indeed try to kill Christopher, but luckily Christopher is able to talk him down by explaining the true circumstances of what happened leading up to his capture. He then brings Mark home and tells him to stay with them while he begins his journey of recovery.
Afterward Beatrix gives Christopher a letter his brother wrote to him before he died. Dealing with Mark and reading his brother’s words, help Christopher; he is wasting time trying to make everything perfect. There is an encounter and then Christopher gets into bed with his wife.
Epilogue: Christopher is awarded the Victoria Cross and Albert (his dog) is also rewarded by the Queen. Mark has come a long way in healing and while still has things to work through is fit and taking care of his family business. He’s also busy pursuing Christopher’s widowed sister-in-law. And Beatrix tells him the family is about to be one bigger.
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