SECRETS OF A SUMMER NIGHT - Lisa Kleypas
Wallflower Series , Book 1
London, England - 1843
Annabelle Peyton is embarking on her fourth London Season looking for a husband. A husband who is rich, willing to take on her mother, younger brother, and all the debts that burden their lives. She has no dowry, and realistically she knows she has only two hopes of making a favorable match -- slim and none. No girl has a fifth Season; it just isn't done, so a desperate plan must be made. With the help of Lillian, Daisy and Evie, three other wallflowers at all the society dances and entertainments, Annabelle decides the best way to obtain an offer of marriage is through trickery.
Simon Hunt has had his eye on Annabelle for the past two years, but she spurns all offers of a dance or a simple conversation with him. He certainly isn't interested in marriage, but he knows if he waits long enough, Annabelle's financial position will enable him to make an offer of another kind. As a rich man, though not a peer, he has plenty of money to afford a mistress, and Annabelle is the only woman he's interested in right now.
Simon is waiting for Annabelle to give up on marriage and be ready to accept his offer of protection. Meanwhile, at one of the last house parties of the season, Annabelle is trying to make herself fall in love with Lord Kendall, a perfectly nice, rich man. Simon's care and personality, however, completely overwhelm Annabelle, and she can't get him out of her mind. Pride runs deep in her heart, she cannot comprehend living the rest of her life in English society without a husband of aristocratic means.
Simon Hunt is the quintessential English entrepreneur in the early 1800's, not a peer, but one of those common men with brains, determination, and an eye for seeing the future of the country and making lots of money. Annabelle is one of many English women who can imagine no other life but one that is similar to her mother's and everyone else's in her social class. Her fellow wallflowers are full of fun, deviltry, and their own reasons for being left behind by all the men. Lillian and Daisy are nouveau riche Americans coming to England to buy themselves husbands with titles. Evie's family is rich, but the money was made from gambling, and her common origins and stammering speech assure her no chance at making a favorable match. Lord Westcliff has been written about in previous books by Ms. Kleypas, and with each story we learn more about him. In the next book, it's his turn to learn that the heart doesn't always obey the brain.
Lisa Kleypas shines as a premier author of the English historical romance. Each book is a gem, and I have waited many months for the first of the Wallflower series. The world of the English aristocracy is explained in detail, and becomes our temporary world. The passion in the relationship between Annabelle and Simon grows slowly, and the story is full of interesting characters, villains, and situations that are the hallmark of Ms. Kleypas's writing. Each character is polished like a jewel, and not one word could possibly be changed.
SECRETS OF A SUMMER NIGHT is a must buy for any Lisa Kleypas fan, especially as this is the first in the Wallflower series. It's cruel and unusual punishment to make us wait until next year for the next installment of these interesting women's stories.