April 6, 2016
It's the official Wallflower beginning.
So now on to the Wallflower series. The first book in the series is Secrets of a Summer Night and in this story we get to actually see what brings the four wallflowers together. I have to
say that all four books in this series portray female friendship at its best. In this story we have the absolutely gorgeous woman Annabelle Peyton. She is so beautiful she could burn your eyes out, but she's a wallflower. While Annabelle might be the most beautiful woman around, she is also poor. So, she'd make a perfect mistress for some landed aristocrat but not a wife because these guys need cash flooding into their great estates. At a ball Annabelle befriends three other wallflowers, Lillian and Daisy Bowman (American heiresses) and Evie Jenner (painfully shy daughter of Ivo Jenner). The women decide to join forces in finding husbands starting with the beautiful but poor Annabelle. (By the way, Jenner is also a connecting character).
There is a house party, of course. Well, Annabelle has set her sights on an aristocratic guy, along with all of the other women at the house party. Also at this house party is a man who Annabelle finds totally irritating, Simon Hunter. Simon Hunter is the local butcher's son who has made good. But, he's the butcher's son so, Annabelle considers him beneath her touch. And, he thinks that Annabelle would make a wonderful mistress. So, they irritate each other, but they can't seem to keep away from each other.
Even though I was less than impressed with Again the Magic, I have to say that Lisa Kleypas can write some pretty yummy heroes. Sure they are for the most part possessive alpha-males, but geewillikers they are hot hunks who have tender caring protective nice guy sides. I just wish Ms. Kleypas would let us into her heroes' brain thoughts a little bit more, because I think she shorts us when it comes to how they think.
Fun scene and typical Romanceland throw-them-together-somehow. There's a cute scene where the girls play a game of rounders in their knickers. They think it's private and once again the American girls lead the charge with the "we do this kind of thing in America all the time" explanation. For all of you who have never read a history book or a biography on the 1800s in America, I don't think we would really see a bunch of American women playing rounders (baseball) in their skivvies - in public. I've always thought our ancestors were just a little bit more Methodist/Presbyterian/Puritanical in their upbringing. But hey, this is Romanceland and how else are we going to get some hunky heroes seeing their heroines without their clothes on.
Hey, by the way, all of you guys with no money - you don't have a chance of ever becoming a Kleypas hero. You either have to have a title or tons of money. This might also be one of the areas in the book I had an issue with. Simon is accepted everywhere. He hangs out with all the cool guys, his best friend is a lord, he's powerful, rich, can dance, and is fun. So, why can't Annabelle marry him and solve all of her problems?
As I continue to write this review, I keep asking myself why did I like this story so much - because I did. But reading my words I'm thinking - man is this a silly story. The heroine has to marry a rich aristocrat, she has to keep her brother in an expensive school, and she has to think of a way to get her mother away from an evil man. Then there is the hero is wants Annabelle, has wanted her for a long time but wants her as his mistress - so he is willing to wait until she's desperate enough to come running to him begging for him to take her. Doesn't really sound all that appetizing when spelled out that way, does it? But it is. Even though there isn't anything we haven't seen in Romanceland before, Ms. Kleypas has magically put all of the words together in a way that we actually care what happens to Annabelle and Simon.
As in some of the other books in this series, there were plotlines which didn't go anywhere or were solved rather quickly. The whole evil lord and Annabelle's mother should have been better developed or left out of the story completely. It didn't serve any purpose, it didn't enhance the story, it didn't make the hero see the light of love - it was just there and then it wasn't.
Also, as with the previous book we have an awful lot of whankee-roo, unprotected whankee-roo. Don't these people care about the consequences of their actions. Now, if I hadn't been reading allllll the books in the series I might have thought that this book had the normal amount of Romanceland sex in it, but I'm not reading them years apart, I'm reading them one after another and my ears are ringing from all the humping-pumping, sweaty, throbbing paragraphs.
I am at a disadvantage here because I read these books out of order and I know one of my favorite Kleypas books (Devil in Winter) is in this group, so I'm predisposed to like this one. And, I do like this one. I like Annabelle and Simon - I thought their dislike of each other, their snobbery, their misreading of each other’s character was fun. Were there moments when I rolled my eyes at some of the Wallflowers' actions? Yes. But I think it helps the series that we are getting to know this whole group of women pretty well before we march into each individual story. Also, once again, we are shorted on the hero's brain think.
Time/Place 1843 England