For nearly two years, Beatrix has been exchanging love letters with Captain Christopher Phelan while he fights for England in the Crimea. Problem #1: Christopher thinks the woman he’s corresponding with is Beatrix’s friend Prudence. Problem #2: In real life, Christopher and Beatrix can hardly stand one another. Realizing that the situation is untenable, Beatrix abruptly ends all communication. When a shell-shocked Christopher returns to London, he struggles to reconcile the Prudence he fell in love with via letter to the shallow woman who parades him around like her own war prize.
Christopher returns to the countryside and finds himself unwillingly drawn to the strange Hathaway girl. Beatrix, an expert at healing wounded animals, is determined to cure Christopher’s unhappiness even if it kills her, and it very well might. Christopher has been deeply traumatized by his war experiences, and it's doubtful at times whether he and Beatrix can ever find peace together. Be prepared for Lisa Kleypas’ steamy scenes, but trust me that the emotional payoff is genuine. Love in the Afternoon is the fifth book in the very entertaining Hathaway series, but it stands alone well. If you’re a stickler, though, start with Mine Till Midnight and keep reading from there.