Wallflowers #1

Secrets of A Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas

Simon Hunt.  Really a great hero. I always have a soft spot for heroes with common origins. His rakish attitude in the beginning didn’t bother me much. And when he took so great care of Annabelle when she was bitten by an adder, I knew he’d be a memorable hero. Knowing that she can’t afford to buy more sturdy shoes, he buys Annabelle ankle boots! That was so sweet! He’s considerate, content, confident (I’m running out of “c”s here!), kind (yay!) and oh so loving…

I didn’t like Annabelle. She was too conservative for me. First I was infuriated with her for being such a whiny bitch about her reduced circumstances after she married Simon. When she was on the brink of becoming a mistress to some peer, she ended up being married to a man who loved her deeply and saved her family from their debts. What more can she ask for? But on second thought (I am learning to think like Lisa Kleypas!), one can say that she wasn’t that desperate as she has managed to ensnare Lord Kendall and would marry him if she didn’t do the honorable thing and give up on her plot. Simon would certainly think this way as he never saw himself as her savior. But still…

My favorite parts of the book are the scenes between Annabelle and Simon when Annabelle was still too weak to get out of bed. And of course when they continued their game of chess for days, making one move a day. I found the love scenes weak in comparison to Kleypas’ other novels. But in one such scene when Annabelle was on the brink of tears as she struggled to contain her passion for her husband, I was really moved. The honeymoon party scene was really great as well. The newly weds are on their honeymoon in Paris and two men at a party start arguing with each other on which one of them is to drink champagne out of Annabelle’s shoe. Finally, Simon comes to the rescue. He removes both Annabelle’s shoes, hands one to each man and says, “You may have the shoes gentlemen–just so long as you’re both aware that their contents belong to me.” Then he scoops up an astonished and barefoot Annabelle and carries her out of the room while he picks up a bottle of champagne from a waiter passing by! *dies*

I also liked at the end when they both confessed their love for each other. I was like “Yes! That’s the spirit!” But then, this came along…

You wouldn’t have left had it been me on the foundry floor–“

“I knew you were going to say that ,” he said in savage disgust. “Of course, I wouldn’t have left you. I’m the man. A man is supposed to protect his wife.”

“And a wife is supposed to be a helpmate,” Annabelle countered.

Now what is wrong with this? Nothing really, but I couldn’t help but wince and had to rub my feminist toes while reading this part. If I were to create a heroine, I would have had her wretchedly yell out something like “And I wanted to protect my husband!” in a situation like this. By saying what she says, Annabelle reaffirms her subordinate role. But actions speak louder than words and she was willing to die along with him. So I should probably just shut the fuck up. Yeah.

However, I do have a serious complaint about the emphasis on material possessions. This is the one thing I can’t stand. It spoiled the whole Twilight Saga for me more than anything. No, Annabelle does’t need “a bit of spoiling.” Simon buying all these jewelry and clothes for Annabelle (not to mention getting a house built in Mayfair because Annabelle wanted to live there of all places!) and then showering people with gifts and money to keep quiet about the stabbing… Yes, it’s all very nice that they can live comfortably thanks to Simon but the fact that he’s super rich is mentioned so many times that I started to wonder about possible allusions. Is Lisa Kleypas trying to make his hero more attractive to readers this way? Do romance readers really like the hero more for his money? Seriously?

I would like to ramble on some more but although I finished the book just yesterday, I can’t think of much to say. Which means that the book didn’t leave a great impression on me. Now I’m really curious about Evie and Daisy’s stories. I don’t like either Lilian or Lord Westcliff from what I have read about them in this book. So I guess I will tolerate It Happened One Autumn. But who knows? Surprise me… Please do.

Sensuality rating: Warm (according to All About Romance)

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