In 2005, Lisa Kleypas started a new historical romance series. Four very different women find that they are routinely ignored and shunned by London society for various reasons. Annabelle is beautiful, yet destitute; Lillian and her sister Daisy are brash and American without a drop of blue blood for all their wealth; and Evangeline, while unusually lovely is incredibly shy and cannot speak without stammering incohesively. Alone, each of them have gone to balls and assemblies only to sit on the outskirts without any prospects–until they decide that they have had enough. Annabelle, Lillian, Evie and Daisy decide to combine forces to escape their permanent wallflower status and land themselves dashing husbands, one by one.
And, to celebrate the Wallflowers, we Smugglers will take on each of our favorites–Thea with Annabelle and Lillian, Ana with Evie and Daisy!
Secrets of a Summer Night
Annabelle Peyton is by all accounts a beautiful woman–the perfect English Rose. Unfortunately, she and her mother are in dire financial straits. Her father’s death has left her family in debt, and as women in Regency England, there is naught to do about it. Annabelle is determined to find a husband but has gone for seasons without a single proposal. For all her beauty, the Peyton financial situation is no secret, and rumors circulate throughout the ton about Annabelle–all the peers seem perfectly eager to wait for her to fall into ruin, and then keep her as a mistress.
Enter the intrepid Wallflowers. At one ball, just as every other for the previous seasons, the four women find themselves seated and without a partner in sight. Lillian, brash American heiress, comes up with the brilliant idea that they should work together, starting with the eldest–which would be sweet Annabelle.
Although they go through with some hare brained schemes to trap an unsuspecting suitor for Annabelle into a proposal, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to Simon Hunt–an obscenely wealthy ne’er-do-well, who seems intent on making Annabelle his mistress. You know how the story goes from there.
So, what’s cool about Annabelle? Perhaps I should have broken this down like a collectible card…
Name: Annabelle Hunt (nee Peyton)
Assigned Wallflower Status Because… Her family is flat-out broke. Why buy at full retail when you know it’s gonna go on sale in a few days? (AKA there’s no point in proposing to the beautiful Annabelle when she is bound to become a kept woman in a few months)
Why She’s Cool: Annabelle doesn’t have the snap of Lillian, or the fragility yet quiet strength of Evie, or even the imaginative sparkle of Daisy. What she does have, however, is a steely, admirable courage. Faced with ruin, dealing with her mother’s new ways of creating income, Annabelle feels the pressure of her situation fully, and yet does not despair and she does not whine and pawn her problems off on her newfound friends. Nor is Annabelle ready to accept her fate as a mistress (though it would be far easier for her to simply take the steady money and live with it).
If She Were an Ice Cream Flavor it Would be: Vanilla. Maybe bland to some, but always a classic.
What About Her Leading Man? Simon Hunt; dashing, roguish, and filthy rich. Simon has made his living with his own two hands, and is to some extent ostracized by the peers–with the exception of Marcus Westcliff, who respects and understands Simon. Tall, dark and handsome–not to mention crazy jealous, and protective of Annabelle.
Notable Moment(s): No one can doubt her courageousness in that final scene when Simon’s factory is ablaze and she rushes in to save her husband. Even Marcus, Lord Westcliff, is finally won over by Annabelle in this scene, as he had thought she was insincere and undeserving of his good friend Simon earlier.
It Happened One Autumn
As I’ve said before, Lillian is my favorite Wallflower, and one of my favorite Lisa Kleypas characters, period. This book begins as Lillian and her sister Daisy look for scents–that is, Lillian has a gift for scents, and is planning on concocting her own perfume. She would be an invaluable asset to her father’s soap manufacturing business had she been born a man. The shopkeeper sees Lillian’s talent, and offers her the last, perfect ingredient for her perfume–claiming it is a love potion.
From there, the girls–Lillian and Daisy, Evie and Annabelle (newlywed Mrs. Hunt) go to Lord Westcliff’s summer home. Lillian isn’t much looking forward to the trip as she and Westcliff seemed to despise each other on sight earlier that summer–he for his uptight domineering and judgemental behavior, she for her loud, unrestrained sauciness.
And…you know how the story goes from there.
Name: Lillian Westcliff (nee Bowman)
Assigned Wallflower Status Because… She is one of those dreadful, obnoxious Americans. Her family is filthy rich from her father’s successful business endeavors, but without a drop of blue blood to their name–they are seen as “new money” and social climbing pariahs in New York, and are similarly received in London. Mrs. Bowman’s pushy ambitions doesn’t do much to help things; she is insistent that her girls marry peers. And, then of course, Lillian herself is a wild child, speaking her mind, expressing her strong opinions, and sneaking off to play rounders with the stable boys.
Why She’s Cool: Lillian is a firecracker. She’s loud and opinionated, and hates to admit that she’s wrong. Her vivacity, her “oomf!” factor makes her irresistible. For all that she’s incredibly headstrong and often jumps to the wrong conclusions, she is so full of life that one can’t help but smile. She’s definitely not for everyone, as some readers might not like her crassness (or I suspect her treatment of the much beloved St. Vincent might have something to do with that–which, in this reader’s opinion is completely justified on Lillian’s part. After all, he did abduct her and planned on forcing marriage and other unmentionables on her). But underneath her thick, tough exterior, she’s surprisingly soft-hearted, and she will fight tooth and nail for her friends.
If She Were an Ice Cream Flavor it Would be: Oh, how about the aptly named flavor, “Rocky Road”? Sharp sometimes, a little nutty, a little soft and sweet, and very distinct.
What About Her Leading Man? Marcus, Lord Westcliff, is a staunch man, devoted to his convictions. Son of a cold father, raised by his horrid mother, Marcus has been groomed for Earldom since his youth. He expects to marry a lovely, quiet, traditional Englishwoman, as his station is expected. However, all that goes out the window when he meets Lillian, the one woman who is able to cause Marcus to lose his head to emotion–be it anger or desire. Marcus might seem a bit square and stuffy, but gradually we learn more of his past, his caring and protectiveness of his sisters, and his more progressive ideas. Hard to resist, really.
Notable Moment(s): The scene where she and Westcliff won me over–the infamous “Rounders in Knickers” scene. Lillian and Daisy convince the girls to go for a game of Rounders (similar to baseball) on a quiet field on Lord Westcliff’s grounds. Hilarity ensues when Westcliff and Hunt ride into the game–Hunt cannot keep his eyes off of Annabelle, and Westcliff cannot control his anger at the uppity impertinence of Lillian Bowman. Both Lillian and Westcliff seem to hate each other on sight…but we know how that tune plays out. Technically this scene is from Secrets of a Summer Night, but it’s my favorite. To be fair, my favorite scene in It Happened One Autumn is when Lillian is in Marcus’s library, getting completely wasted off pear brandy to take the edge off worry, anger and rejection. When Marcus stumbles in on her (completely blitzed, having finished the bottle), the scene is both funny and incredibly sweet.
Devil In Winter
Evie Jenner is in dire straights. When she was a child, her father, who is the owner of a gambling club (you might remember him from Dreaming of You – he was Derek Craven’s rival), sent her to be raised by her mother’s family so that she could have a modicum of respectability. But her relatives are abusive and see her purely as a mean to get her father’s fortune. When they decide she should marry her piggish cousin, she flees and decides her only course of action is to get a husband of her own choosing. As time is of essence here, the only possible choice is the devil himself: Sebastian St Vincent, the man who had kidnapped her best friend because he too, is in financial trouble.
The shiest of the Wallflowers walks into his house and makes an offer he cannot refuse – they are to elope and he would have his money and she would be free from her family and be able to go to her father who is dying. There is one condition – they will consummate the marriage so that it would be legal but they would not sleep together again. But their wedding night is a complete surprise for both of them, and they start to realise that appearances can be deceiving…
And…you know how the story goes from there.
Name: Evangeline, Lady St Vincent (nee Jenner)
Assigned Wallflower Status Because: She is extremely shy. Even though she has considerable fortune, her father’s money comes from his gambling club –she is not aristocracy. She also stutters which makes potential suitors wary of approaching her.
Why She Is Cool: She has endured an abusive childhood with her relatives and came out stronger for that – she may not be outspoken or spunky but she is determined and extremely loyal to her friends and father. Once she makes up her mind, there is no turning back. She is one of those quietly strong heroines. She is extremely perceptive and can see through other people’s BS quite easily. And one that can wrap the most dashing, beautiful, sophisticated rake around her little fingers.
If She Were an Ice Cream Flavor It Would Be: Strawberry – she’s a redhead, she’s someone that people overlook a lot of the time, and yet she’s definitely original. Tangy, sweet, not to everyone’s tastes, but distinct on her own.
What About Her Leading Man? Ah. Now. Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent. I don’t even know where to start – he is put simply, my all time favorite romance hero. Described as the most beautiful man in England, with is golden hair and blue eyes, a sex god, callous, infamous, manipulative, crude, witty and extremely sophisticated lord, the ultimate reprobate rake who on top of everything, starts out as a villain. In It Happened One Autumn – because he is an impoverished aristocrat who needs money to maintain his dissipated life style, he kidnaps his best friend’s fiancée, Lillian Bowman to force her to marry him. How could someone like this ever be redeemed? Well………all it takes is a red-headed with her quiet ways and will of steel to bring him down to his knees. Quite possibly the most improbable pairing in all romanceland, but one that absolutely works. His transformation is amazing – it starts out in their wedding night when he is shaken to the core after sex with Evie turned out to be a surprisingly amazing experience which alarmed him to no end; and continues when he realizes he has a brain which he can use, by running the gambling club that belonged to Evie’s Father. He turns quite murderous and protective when he learns of her abuse and little by little, starts falling even though he fears to love as much as he fears to be loved. When someone tries to kill Evie, he throws himself in front of the bullet aimed at her, without a second thought and as he lies there thinking he is going to die, his only concern is for her safety. He learns the meaning of sacrifice, the meaning of caring for someone and most of all he learns he is worth more than his looks and charms. And the best thing? He is redeemed but without ever losing his edge, his bad-boy persona and he carries on being rather depraved, but only with Evie. The lion who has been tamed by the lamb and is extremely satisfied about it. I better stop now, I could go on and on, believe me.
Notable Moments: I think Evie’s best moment is the one that sets things in motion. You would never expect her to just walk into the lion’s den right after Sebastian has been beaten to a pulp by Marcus and everyone thinks he is the devil, to make him an offer he can’t refuse: to marry her, so that he can have money and she can be freed from her family. It takes a lot of guts but she will prove over and over again that if there is someone that can handle the devil, it’s her.
One last thing: Devil In Winter is one of my favorite romance novels. Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase is my number one, but Devil in Winter is the one I re-read over and over again.
Scandal In Spring
Daisy Bowman is the only Wallpaper that it’s still single. Sick and tired of waiting for his daughter to choose a husband, her father takes matters in his own hands and decides she is to marry his protégée, Matthew Swift.
Matthew has loved Daisy since he first saw her but he has a secretive past that could jeopardise their happiness so he decides to keep away. But Daisy, who was at first horrified at the prospect of marrying cold, ambitious Matthew , all of a sudden realises he is everything she ever wanted in a man and decides to make him jealous to get him to come out of his shell.
And…you know how the story goes from there.
Name: Daisy Swift (nee Bowman)
Assigned Wallflower Status Because: She is Lillian’s sister and therefore, another one of those dreadful Americans; heiress to “new money”, off to marry a peer as per her father’s determination. She may not be a spitfire like her sister, but she is her best friend and companion on her adventures.
Why She’s Cool: She is intelligent and inquisitive but also a dreamer and a romantic, always with a book in her hands. Her dream man would be someone quiet and well-read –not someone that is perfect, but someone that is just right for her. She is not as abrasive as her sister – quite the contrary; out of all the wallflowers she usually is the voice of reason and the most approachable one.
If She Were An Ice-Cream Flavour It Would Be: Neapolitan. she’s dreamy, kind of “in between” and taking the best of all worlds–chocolate, vanilla and strawberry together. Subtle flavors when mixed, but oh so yummy.
What About Her Leading Man? Matthew Swift is her father’s protégée who he worships above even his own sons and whom he chooses as a husband for Daisy when it’s clear she can’t get a British peer to marry her. Matthew is a self-made, self-confident ambitious American, who has wanted Daisy FOREVER. Even though he would love nothing more than to marry Daisy, he has a Secret in his Past that is an obstacle to their relationship. Attractive, strong and utterly masculine, he knows every single thing about Daisy. And he carries around a button with a lock of her hair in his pocket so that he can possess at least a tiny piece of her.
Notable Moments: The lawn games Daisy and Matthew play which starts friendly enough and turns into a fierce competition. Or when they are having The Talk when they both acknowledge how much they want each other but Matthew refuses to make a move. Daisy is furious at this decision that seems so illogical so she takes charge, locks the door and tucks the key inside her bodice. Impossible for Matthew to resist. And the rest as they say, it’s history.
So, these are the original wallflowers and their original books. But every season sees new wallflowers forgotten in the corners of London’s ballrooms. One such wallflower is Hannah Appleton and her story and how the wallflowers will help her getting the man of her dreams is in the upcoming novel A Wallflower Christmas (release date October 14th).
Come back later today to read our take in the new book! We will be posting our joint review here and Katiebabs will post hers at her place – it is another one of our infamous Powerpuff girls’ joints!