Other than a few Danielle Steele novels I rifled through a few years back, Lisa Kleypas’s A Wallflower Christmas was my first real foray into the romance genre. And it was pretty interesting! I have this annoying habit of picking up books from the middle of a series lately — or, in this case, from the very end of a series — but I managed to enjoy this Christmas novel without knowing too much the back story.
Sisters Lillian and Daisy have rich, aristocratic husbands, live in fine estates in England and are extraordinarily close to their good friends — the “wallflowers” of the title — and their family. Daisy and Lillian’s eldest brother Rafe Bowman is still a bachelor due to inherit his father’s very lucrative manufacturing business — but only if he plays his cards right. And in Thomas Bowman’s world, all of Rafe’s “accomplishments” and diligence mean nothing if he doesn’t have a rich, suitable and blue-blooded wife at this side to bring greater honor to the family name.
Enter Lady Natalie, the beautiful daughter of a wealthy Englishmen, and her dutiful if outspoken cousin, companion and chaperone Hannah Appleton. Natalie’s father believes a match with Rafe could be largely beneficial to both families, but he wants Hannah to investigate the young man as he arrives from America. Lillian, Daisy and their friends set up a tea in order to introduce Hannah to the ladies — and Hannah accepts, hoping to gather information on their brother. As usual, Rafe’s reputation precedes him — and nearly scandalizes Hannah, who is duly shocked by his lack of English propriety and quick, teasing smile. And it doesn’t take too long for this unlikely twosome to pull together like magnets.
At a little more than 200 pages, A Wallflower Christmas was just a light, fun read. Unlike some historical fiction I’ve read in the past, I was able to get caught up in the cadence of the “old tyme” words and language without finding myself lost and confused. The dialogue was realistic, the scenes entertaining, and the characters well-drawn. I found myself grinning at Rafe’s antics — as well as Hannah’s steadfast attempts to dissuade him from pursuing her. The plot reminded me a bit of “Becoming Jane,” one of my favorite films based on the life of Jane Austen. Rafe Bowman embodies a sort of Thomas Lefroy-type character: lean, smug, wealthy, devastatingly handsome, clever and condescending — but with a big heart and propensity to love and defy familial expectations. I’d venture to say many women are looking for their own Rafe . . . but if they can’t find him now, A Wallflower Christmas is a great way to escape from that hunt!
4 out of 5!