Posts tagged ‘the wallflower series’

May 18, 2013

Wallflowers #4

Scandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas

As I had guessed, this one turned out to be my favorite in the Wallflower series. It is an sweet love story with great characters and a small mystery (which wasn’t really hard to guess). Every ingredient for a good (not great) historical romance novel was equally balanced and, with the addition of Daisy Bowman, turned out to be a wonderful read to cure your blue mood.

All excerpts from the book © Lisa Kleypas All rights reserved

Daisy clearly owns the book. First of all, let me just say that I love her. She’s certainly one of my favorite historical romance heroines. I’m sorta like her in some ways: I love daisies, she also enjoys reading romances, I’m “five foot and one debatable inch” too, her story is set in my favorite season, and I got Daisy when I took the Wallflowers personality test on Lisa Kleypas’ website. But that’s not the real reason I’m so fond of her. Daisy is a peculiar child whose mind works in a completely different, but adorable manner. Her character is very difficult to explain in plain adjectives, but the author does an excellent job with metaphors:

She was the most provoking, beguiling woman he had ever met. Thunderstorms and rainbows wrapped together in a convenient pocket-sized parcel.

Did I mention that the writing of he book is excellent, by the way? It is.

One of my favorite passages depicting Daisy is by Westcliff whose role in this book is unnecessarily big, if you ask me. But my impression of him increased by ten fold after this:

“Daisy is a charming little scamp, not to mention lovely. Had she a bit more confidence, and far less sensitivity, she would have learned by now to attract the opposite sex with ease. But to her credit, she doesn’t have the temperament to treat love as a game. And few men have the wits to appreciate sincerity in a woman.” 

This statement (especially the last sentence) is so true in so many different respects that I can’t begin to recite all of them.

On a negative note on Daisy, I think she falls in love rather too unexpectedly. One minute she can’t stand Matthew’s presence, the next she is plotting to make him jealous and confess his feelings (which, by the way, was rather uncharacteristic of her). But in the meantime, the two share some very good moments, like when they play lawn bowling for hours at end and when Matthew comes to her rescue during the silly drawing room games. Those were very well-written scenes. As for Matthew’s feelings–oh, I’m bubbling with glee just thinking about it–he has always loved Daisy since the first time he laid eyes on her.

“Over the years I’ve collected a thousand memories of you, every glimpse, every word you’ve ever said to me. All those visits to your family’s home, those dinners and holidays—I could hardly wait to walk through the front door and see you.” The corners of his mouth quirked with reminiscent amusement. “You, in the middle of that brash, bull-headed lot…I love watching you deal with your family. You’ve always been everything I thought a woman should be. And I have wanted you every second of my life since we first met.”

Isn’t that my favorite kind of hero? Well, no. Matthew had this similar I’m-no-good-for-her-so-I-can’t-have-her thing going on like Kev in Seduce Me at Sunrise, but it wasn’t that plausible. For one thing, his resolve literally crumbled when Daisy took off her chemise (See, I like that bold quality in her) and that made it appear sort of weak. We knew that it was weak but couldn’t he have pretended otherwise and done something? It was as if he was just looking for an excuse (One can’t blame him, can he?). In other words, he didn’t reach the “miserable enough” threshold. Yes, you wouldn’t want to be a character in a romance I would write. I would probably make you go through hell.

But Matthew is a great hero. He’s a moral, self-made man who is trying to escape the clutches of the world order which has no mercy on those without means. tI goes without saying that he is the completely opposite of what Daisy is. Practical and hardened by the world. Hence, I think, his immense attraction to our little pixie.

She let a teasing tone enter her voice. “Is there any emergency for which you are not prepared, Mr. Swift?”

“Miss Bowman, if I had enough pockets I could save the world.”

Although it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Daisy’s unique qualities are not always embraced by her family, especially by her father, who doesn’t seem to know how to deal with her.

One of the servants had reported that Daisy had been sneaking around the house at night, deliberately tripping all the traps to keep the mice from being killed.

“Is this true, daughter?” Thomas Bowman had rumbled, his gaze filled with ire as he stared at Daisy.

“It could be,” she had allowed. “But there is another explanation.”

“And what is that?” Bowman had asked sourly.

Her tone turned congratulatory. “I think we are hosting the most intelligent mice in New York!”

I can’t stop grinning now…

If I’m to comment on other aspects of the book, there is one bit towards the beginning of the book that I absolutely adored. Daisy’s thoughts linger on Cam Rohan, (the hero of Mine Till Midnight, the first book of the Hathaway series) who had stolen a kiss from her in the previous book. She asks Evie in a rather shy manner about his past wondering if perhaps he might be a “long lost Irish lord or something.” Little does she know that he actually is! Well played Ms. Kleypas…

As for some other random comments, I could really kill Lilian for showing such hostility towards Matthew without any real cause, but I guess the fact that the book delved into the Bowman sisters’ relationship was a good thing. The drama at the end, too, was okay, I guess. At least it wasn’t ridiculous or irrelevant.

And finally, the love scenes were weak again. Unfortunately, this is a general quality of the Wallflower series. But this time, I was irritated all the more by the characters’ incessant chatter! I’m sorry, but they are both very verbal during the act and it takes away the magic of it. The scene was supposed to be a crucial one, overshadowed by agony, because Matthew finally gives up his defenses and decides to make Daisy his and marry her afterwards. There shouldn’t have been any words, but just feeling and utter abandon. I’m thinking too dramatically again…

On the whole the Hathaway series were much better than the Wallflowers, in my opinion. In terms of characters, drama, plot, feelings and yes, love scenes, the author has improved herself a lot. But the Wallflowers are a good distraction and easy reads, if not memorable ones. I recommend it to all romance readers who are not looking for anything too specific.

Sensuality rating: Hot (according to All About Romance)

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April 23, 2013

Wallflowers #3

Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas

The following review contains spoilers (from It Happened One Autumn).

As I expected, this one turned out better than the last two, though still not as much as I would have liked. It started out really nice. The way St. Vincent took care of Evie on their way to Gretna Green was adorable. The later events were not so appealing, but I’ll come to that later. First, the characters…

Evie is a quiet, loving girl who’s had to suffer her relatives’ cruel designs since she was born. Years and years of repression, disdain and severe punishments have turned her into a shy, stammering wallflower. The only way out of the of her relatives’ clutches is eloping. And she is willing to do so with a man who, by all accounts, has no heart. It is really sad to see the extent of her desperation to get away from her cruel family. But she is determined, not to mention strong. Her relatives didn’t succeed in breaking her spirit (but their effort manifested itself in the form of her stammer). She tells the the other flowers at some point in It Happened One Autumn that she knows she’s not responsible from her mother’s death (her mother died while giving birth to her) although her aunt tells her otherwise. So if she has managed to preserve her essence all these years, she believes that she will be able to continue to do so as the wife of St. Vincent, who makes it clear to her from the beginning that he’s only agreeing to her proposal for the money.

I like Evie. She’s my type of heroine. Shy but courageous, loving and kind but ill-treated. Her stammer and the way she indignantly says “I don’t like that word” every time St. Vincent curses is adorable. And she is a redhead! OMG, freckles! How can I resist that? However, the fact that I like her puts all the more pressure on her character to outdo herself in the story, but, unfortunately, she doesn’t. I can’t quite put my finger on it but she doesn’t act the way I would deem appropriate to her character. But the intent is appreciated nonetheless.

As for St. Vincent…

“If your concern is that I may be overcome with manly ardor and ravish you in a moment of weakness… I may. If you ask nicely.”

Haha! Yeah, I know, he’s fun to read about with all his wicked and witty remarks (reading the quotes page on Goodreads has helped refresh my memory). In this respect, he’s like Leo (Lord Ramsay) from the Hathaway series. But I’m afraid, St. Vincent doesn’t have as much of an excuse as Leo does to act like the jerk that he is. Yes, he is a tortured soul, I get it, but there is a golden rule: Guys don’t betray their buddies. Period. And St. Vincent does exactly the opposite in the most despicable manner by kidnapping Lillian, Lord Westcliff’s fiancé.

Now, about the rest of the book… The ending held too many moral conundrums for me to digest, so I’ll just skip that. Cam Rohan was a welcome sight, although I’m not such a great fan of him from the Hathaway series. And again, the love scenes were kind of dull. However, for some inexplicable reason, Devil in Winter has a very high ranking in lists in Goodreads. For example, it’s voted the highest among Lisa Kleypas’ books. It is definitely better than the first two Wallflowers and it’s classic Lisa Kleypas goodness. But compared to any of the Hathaways, I don’t think it’s very deserving.

Sensuality rating: Hot (according to All About Romance)

April 9, 2013

Wallflowers #2

It Happened One Autumn by Lisa Kleypas

The following review (if you can call it that) contains spoilers.

Aaaand I tolerated It Happened One Autumn. I knew I would be feeling like this after reading this book, so no surprises here. I don’t like heroines who are ridiculously stubborn and who pride themselves in having the upper hand in everything just out of spite. So Lilian is not my kind of heroine but that’s still okay.

What’s not okay is god-damn Westcliff seducing her when she was clearly drunk. Yes, these things happen, for the good sometimes, but still it would have been nice if he were more sensitive about it afterwards. And for the first time while reading a historical romance novel, nonetheless one written by Lisa Kleypas, I couldn’t picture the hero in my head. I just couldn’t come up with a handsome, breath-taking Westcliff. Thank goodness, Simon Hunt was present during most of the book. (“Once a week you said?” Haha, good one!)

But I guess the one thing that had me really hanging at the end is how the hell St. Vincent turned out to be the villain? And more importantly, how the hell is he going to be the hero of the next book, when he was on the brink of raping Lilian (let alone fondling her breasts!)? Yes, I’m very curious indeed *snorts*

Then why am I still reading the Wallflowers, right? Let’s not do any injustice to Lisa Kleypas. She is not the most brilliant author out there (*cough* Madeline Hunter *cough*) but she sure is one of the most (recently) popular ones. And that’s for a reason. I just find myself reading her books. She is the author I’ve read the most books of in the historical romance genre (somebody please correct the syntax here!) Her novels are excellent for light reading. And sometimes she does surprise you by writing something really deep and endearing. I just hope that she’s going to do that for the remaining Wallflowers.

Sensuality rating: Hot (according to All About Romance)

November 8, 2012

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)