Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Wallflower for All Seasons

Or more accurately, a Wallflower for each season, and there is a bonus Christmas book, to boot. This series of linked historical romances from author Lisa Kleypas follows the adventures (and misadventures) of four young ladies in search of husbands. Annabelle Peyton, Evangeline Jenner, and Lillian and Daisy Bowman all have a few things to recommend them, and a few things that keep them sitting on the sidelines, with empty dance cards and dwindling matrimonial prospects. Annabelle has no dowry, and since the death of her father a few years previously, her family is in increasingly desperate financial straits. Evangeline is the result of an elopement between a genteel young lady and Cockney prize fighter who went on to run a gaming club. Lillian and Daisy are the daughters of an incredibly wealthy American businessman; they were unable to find husbands in the upper echelons of New York society and are having no better luck in the even more gentrified world of the British peerage. After more than a season of sitting next to one another at social events, watching the rest of the world dance by, the girls decide to join forces. They reason that by taking turns helping each other find a suitable spouse, they are far more likely to be successful. They decide to start with Annabelle, who is not only the oldest, but who also has the most to lose if she does not find a well to do husband by the end of the season. Will she find a suitable husband, or will her deeply hidden desire for true love lead to –

Secrets of a Summer Night
Annabelle Peyton’s time is running out. Her father’s death has left the family finances in disarray, and her mother has been forced to form a rather unpleasant association with the loathsome Lord Hodgeham to get some of the bills paid. In her fourth season and with no dowry, Annabelle knows that without an offer of marriage before summer, she will have no option but to become a rich man’s mistress. Businessman Simon Hunt decides that he will be that man. The butcher’s son made a fortune in industry, and is now in business with some of the bluest blood in the realm. Annabelle has fascinated him for years, and he is disgusted with the way his so-called social betters are waiting for her to get desperate enough to take one of them as a lover. Simon is determined to make Annabelle his, and Annabelle is determined to marry a peer and not just sell herself. Sparks fly between them, but can they get past social snobbery and financial considerations to form a real relationship?

It Happened One Autumn
Lillian Bowman is brash, adventurous, irreverant and outspoken. In short, she is everything that Marcus, the Earl of Westcliffe, despises in a woman. The fact that she is an upstart American heiress leaves him cold. Unlike many of his peers in the peerage, Marcus has some very progressive ideas about managing the family finances, and so has no need of the Bowman millions. Doing business with the father is one thing, marrying the daughter is something else entirely. Besides, Lillian makes no secret of the fact that she finds him snobbish, autocratic, and generally obnoxious. She stands up to him like no one else dares to, which is alternately infuriating and refreshing. And there was that memorable afternoon when he found her playing a brisk game of rounders with the other Wallflowers – in her knickers. Perhaps she does have a few things to recommend her. As Marcus unbends sufficiently to reveal his kindness and humor, Lillian begins to mellow. But there those among the aristocracy who are desperate to get their hands on the Bowman fortune, and those who are horrified at the thought of Lord Westcliffe marrying a soap company heiress. Can a little conniving keep Lillian and Marcus apart?

Tomorrow: Winter (Evie) and Spring (Daisy)

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