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Secrets of a Summer Night (The Wallflowers, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – October 26, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Deftly evoking not only the romantic tension between hero and heroine but also the conflicts and challenges of the Victorian era, this superb romance from Kleypas launches her new series centered on the Wallflowers, four young ladies who are sick of being snubbed and overlooked by London's bachelors and who have banded together to find themselves husbands. Beautiful Annabelle Peyton represents Old World aristocracy; she's genteel but impoverished and desperately trying to maintain the appearance of wealth. Commoner Simon Hunt, on the other hand, is a brash, ambitious entrepreneur who has made a fortune investing in industry and railroads and is only marginally accepted by society. As Annabelle attempts to trap a moneyed aristocrat into marriage—with the help of her vivacious fellow Wallflowers, of course—Simon boldly pursues her, first with the desire to make her his mistress and then with far more noble intentions. The scenes involving Annabelle and the three other Wallflowers—two impudent American girls and a shy, stuttering English heiress—are almost as enjoyable as the ones in which Annabelle and Simon try to outmaneuver each other. The protagonists inevitably wind up at the altar, but their story doesn't end there. Kleypas delves deeper, touching on Annabelle's changing mindset (specifically, her growing admiration of Simon's working-class roots and her acceptance of everything he stands for) and Simon's insecurity over taking her away from polite society. By turns amusing, sensual and sober, but always compelling, this is a first-rate offering from a truly talented storyteller.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Back Cover
Four young ladies at the side of the ballroom make a pact to help each other find husbands . . . no matter what it takes
Proud and beautiful Annabelle Peyton could have her pick of suitors—if only she had a dowry. Her family is on the brink of disaster, and the only way Annabelle can save them is to marry a wealthy man. Unfortunately her most persistent admirer is the brash Simon Hunt, a handsome and ambitious entrepreneur who wants her as his mistress.
Annabelle is determined to resist Simon's wicked propositions, but she can't deny her attraction to the boldly seductive rogue, any more than he can resist the challenge she presents. As they try to outmaneuver each other, they find themselves surrendering to a love more powerful than they could have ever imagined. But fate may have other plans—and it will take all of Annabelle's courage to face a peril that could destroy everything she holds dear.
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I was totally annoyed with Simon's overbearing methods of seduction until about halfway through the book, and then I could see where the plot was going. But I think I would have enjoyed the book more if I had known upfront. The ending is excellent - what a way to finish strong! It is probably one of the best dramatic rescue scenes I've ever read (and it has absolutely nothing to do with a stupid kidnapping which is a trope I deplore) and I've already gone back to reread that scene a second time. I recommend this book and would read it again. 4.5 stars, minus half a star for Simon's dishonorable intentions at the beginning of the story.
What Annabelle doesn't count on is the affluent Simon Hunt. Rich and successful but not a member of the peerage, Simon is always on the outside of the inner London ton circle. Annabelle has been refusing his attentions for years, but suddenly saying no is getting harder.
I really, really liked this story. The main characters and their chemistry sort of reminded me of Rhett and Scarlett. The banter between Simon and Annabelle is often humorous and I found myself laughing out loud several times while reading. Their passion is titillating and their love affair memorable.
The wallflowers are hilarious and the antics they engage in are outstanding. I look forward to seeing what the four of them come up with next in It Happened One Autumn (The Wallflowers, Book 2). This is a wonderful historical romance, very entertaining.
Cherise Everhard, August 2008
I also liked Simon but he was far from wonderful. I was surprised that so many readers found him so great but disliked the heroine for not wanting him. He did not want to marry her, he just wanted her for a mistress and kept telling her so for more than half the book. We know that this is true because of his inner thoughts in which he is determined not to love or marry her. So no he had not planned to marry her during most of his pursuit of her. That does not make him very nice, even by today social/moral standards, such an offer is insulting and demeaning, but back then, please it was beyond offensive. It never ceases to amaze me how readers eagerly embrace a hero (in a romance story of any genre) who is ruthless, plotting to take advantage of the heroine (either for economic reasons, revenge or just out of lust) and has few if any scruples about obtaining his goal, yet the minute a heroine exhibits some of the flaws I just mentioned, or heaven forbids, resist the hero's advances, she is unacceptable to so many readers. In my opinion this is terribly unfair. Annabelle was far from perfect, but then so was Simon, why exactly would he deserve better?????? I mean Simon was taking full advantage of her economic situation to get what he wanted. His wealth gave him a sense of entitlement that he could buy anyone, just because he wanted to and/or could, including a mistress. It was no sacrifice for him to give Annabelle all that he offer, he was that rich. Yet it was definitely a sacrifice for Annabelle when she finally accepted Simon (on his terms not hers) since she had just rejected another man with the social position and money to solve all of her problems and who offer her, the respectability of marriage, she chose Simon (even before she knew he was finally offering marriage) simply because she wanted him, and for no other reason.
And finally I want to address a comment of one of the reviewers: Yes, a hero who is in diligent pursuit of a reluctant heroine is most definitely my CATNIP, and I declare it so quite unapologetically. It is all a matter of personal taste. So keep those specific reviews coming, they are so helpful to the potential buyer (especially the negative reviews) to stay away from stories he/she would not like. Thank you.