April 7, 2017
Nothing better than a stuffed-shirt.
Now we come to the second official entry in the Wallflower series and one of my favorites: It Happened One Autumn. One of the reasons this book is a favorite is because our heroine,
Lillian, and our hero, Marcus, rub each other the wrong way right away. What a fun couple. He is this uptight, priggish, snobbish lord and she is a free-spirited, acerbic, doesn't-give-a-hoot woman. As I've said before, there's nothing I enjoy more than seeing an uptight prig take a fall. Let me tell you, Marcus really puts up quite a struggle in this story and it's all very delicious. Was this a perfect book? No. Did I have some issues with it? Yes. But even though there were some hiccups in the road for me, this was my second favorite book in this series which says a lot considering that the Devil in Winter is in a class of its own.
So, we have an interesting hero in Marcus. First of all, he doesn't tower over people. He's shorter than most of the heroes who inhabit Romanceland. But, he is written with such a strong personality he's a match for all other heroes. Anyway, Marcus is a coooool guy. He's a look-at-me, I'm smooth, I don't get rattled, nothing upsets me - until Lillian barges into his well-ordered life.
I liked Lillian a lot. Was she a little bit over the top? Yes, but she had to be to counterbalance Mr. Level-headed Marcus. She was a whirlwind. She is loaded with schemes, dreams, and brilliant ideas, and she charges into things without really thinking. Even though she is this loose cannon, she doesn't see herself as such. She even thinks she would be a good partner in her father’s business, but she really hasn't got any business savvy. She's a too up-front, in your face kind of woman to fit into the covert world of business. She also doesn't suffer fools. She doesn't think too highly of the aristocratic world her mother wants her to be part of. In fact, she deliberately tries to irritate Marcus.
But, don't feel too bad for poor old Marcus. He doesn't care for Lillian. He considers her to be nothing more than a gold-digger - except, of course, she's got the gold but she's digging for a title. I guess she's a guy-digger. Or at least her mother is. Which leads me to another thought. Lillian's parents. Her mother is a social climber and her father is a wily, strong-willed business man who doesn't seem to care for his children. The Bowman parents put in an appearance as secondary characters and every time they showed up I found myself wondering more and more what made them into the couple they were. There are things that are hinted at but nothing is ever fully explained. I wish Ms. Kleypas had written a short story on this couple, not as they were when they were young, but what they were in these books. And, why they got to the point they were at. Interesting married couple who could barely stomach each other, but we never know why. Nor are we ever given a gentler glimpse of them.
The other secondary characters. The rest of the wallflowers put in a strong appearance in this book, Daisy especially, which is another oddity. Why is that an oddity? Well, since I've already read these books I know that Evie is the heroine who has the really strong book later on in the series. If ever there was an example of a strong secondary character not getting the book they deserve it is Daisy - but that will come later. In this book the Wallflowers once again demonstrate how wonderful a true friendship-bonding between women can truly be.
I've also arrived at the conclusion that no matter how strong the heroine is in any book, it is the hero who I zero in on. He can make or break a romance story for me. I can only think of a few romance stories where the two leads are on equal footing (Jessica Trent and Sebastian spring to mind). In this story even though Lillian's presence is felt throughout the entire book, Marcus is the one who overpowers it. He is the stronger of the two. Now, having said that I also believe that this pair really works as a couple. They balance each other out - he needs her irrelevance and she needs his grounding and together they make for a great couple.
If there was one weak part in this book it was toward the end when Lillian is kidnapped. Because the guy who does the kidnapping is our next hero, he can't be portrayed as being alllll that bad. So, I'm not sure why this scene was added. As I've been reading a lot of Ms. Kleypas books, one right after another, I've notice that in most of her books she adds things which in the end don't add anything to the book. They appear, they get solved, they disappear. All they do is take up space.
Overall, I liked this book. I thought it added immensely to the series and introduced a wonderful hero in the form of Marcus - too bad there is a Vincent. Highly recommend this story.
Time/Place: 1843 England