Book review: ‘It Happened One Autumn’ by Lisa Kleypas

happened_one_autumnWhen Lillian Bowman and Marcus, Lord Westcliff meet each other first in Lisa Kleypas’s Secrets of A Summer Night, their dislike for each other is palpable. Lillian finds Marcus arrogant, haughty and boring; Marcus views Lillian as loud-mouthed and improper. And Marcus doesn’t hesitate to quickly lump her in with friend and fellow wallflower Annabelle as little more than a “husband hunter” — one of the countless women on a quest to marry a rich, titled Englishman, no matter the cost.

But things change in It Happened One Autumn, the second book in Kleypas’s Wallflowers series. As Lillian — the daughter of a wealthy Americans who made their fortune in the soap industry, but lack the “blue blood” so demanded to be accepted in privileged circles — returns to Westcliff’s Stony Cross Park with her family, she begins to see Marcus more in his natural element . . . and, in turn, he begins to let his guard down. While the two first avoid one another in mutual annoyance, Marcus surprises Lillian and her sister Daisy by joining them in a game of rounders. Shocked that Marcus could have fun for even one moment, Lillian’s surprise gives way to interest . . . and quickly to infatuation. Marcus returns the sentiments, though he adamently refuses to acknowledge them. Until . . . one kiss from Lillian keeps Marcus up at night, wondering how he could possibly have feeling for someone he despised just days ago. Until . . . another wealthy suitor shows an avid interest in her — and she in him, hoping to get her parents’ demands that she marry a wealthy man off her shoulders. And until Marcus realizes he could lose her forever — if he doesn’t just lose that stodgy, straight-lipped English demeanor and do something about his feelings.

Like Secrets Of A Summer Night, I really got into this story. I never thought I would be so into historical romance, but this series has totally changed my opinion of what a great romance novel should be. I loved the interplay between sisters Daisy and Lillian, and so enjoyed the constant banter between Lillian and Marcus. Readers can see from the get-go that for all their feigned indifference to one another, they can’t help staring at each other sidelong from across any room. But the build-up was great and believable, and I loved getting to know all of the characters from Kleypas’s first novel better. I thought the dramatic turn of events toward the end was a bit odd . . . and had to chuckle a bit at the antics. But I guess it fit well into the greater whole, and I’m willing to suspend my belief a bit to enjoy a great story!

I’m looking forward to the next installment and seeing what’s in store for another dear wallflower . . . and can’t wait to see the progression of Marcus and Lillian’s relationship from here.

4 out of 5

ISBN: 0060562498 ♥ Purchase from AmazonAuthor Website
Personal copy purchased by Meg

Book review: ‘Secrets Of A Summer Night’ by Lisa Kleypas

secrets_summer Here we go — my first serious foray into the romance genre! I picked up Lisa Kleypas’s A Wallflower Christmas this past December, wanting to read a holiday-themed novel to get me in the spirit. After some light research, I realized my sister andI had inadvertantly stumbled into a full-blown series — and just read the final book! That’s what I get for not looking it up on LibraryThing first. Regardless, I picked up Kleypas’s Secrets of a Summer Night, the first book in the Wallflowers series — and loved it!

Annabelle Peyton has a serious problem — after the death of her father and the collapse of the family’s finances, she, her mother and brother Jeremy are in a desperate situation. In her mid 20s, still unmarried and part of an illustrious group of “wallflowers” who seem to be shunned by the upper echelons of English society, beautiful Annabelle has some hard decisions to make: will she continue to attempt to snag the affections of a mawkish, geeky lord, or is she doomed to become the well-paid mistress — and unwed maid — of another?

Enter Simon Hunt — the wealthy, handsome and charistmatic businessman who remains on the outside of well-to-do British society himself. While Annabelle and fellow Wallflowers Lillian, Daisy and Evie hatch a desperate plan to win the attentions of a wealthy, if timid, lord at the estate of Lord Westcliff, Simon has plans of his own — namely, to finally win over Annabelle, a woman he’s admired for years. Annabelle is used to deflecting Simon Hunt’s attention, however — until she’s forced to admit there’s something tender to him she hadn’t perceived before.

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Book review: ‘A Wallflower Christmas’ by Lisa Kleypas

wallflower_xmasOther 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!

ISBN: 0312533780 ♥ Purchase from AmazonAuthor Website
Personal copy borrowed from my sister