By Lisa Kleypas
Release Date: October 26, 2004
Series or Standalone: The Wallflowers #1
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
Despite being a historical romance fan, I’ve surprisingly read very few novels by Lisa Kleypas. After reading Then Came You and Dreaming of You and loving both of them, I decided to dive into some of her backlist, starting with the Wallflowers series.
I have got to say, this book was so much fun! There is something about Kleypas’ writing that draws you in so quickly and I feel like you can relate to her characters. I also love that Kleypas is able to weave in humor so easily into her books and all her conversations and interactions between characters just feel so human and real. Even if I don’t like something in the books, her writing still keeps me engaged and leaves me with a smile on my face at the end.
The first installment of the Wallflowers series focuses on Annabelle Peyton and Simon Hunt. Annabelle, despite being a beauty, has been relegated to the wallflowers corner as she has no dowry. After her fathers death, her family is essentially broke and Annabelle needs to marry well in order to protect her mother and young brother. Her other option is to become a mistress to a lord, and she has no desire to demean herself in that matter. Simon Hunt is the son of a butcher who has built himself up to be a titan of industry. He’s wealthy as sin, but because he’s not from noble blood, he’s not fully accepted by the aristocracy. Annabelle doesn’t like him as she thinks he only wants her to be his mistress, but he’s clearly interested in her on a deeper level and has been from the first time he met her. When the Earl of Westcliff hosts a party in the country, Annabelle is determined to land herself a noble husband but instead finds herself butting heads with Simon and growing closer to him.
I have to say, I loved both Annabelle and Simon. I feel like Annabelle could have easily been an annoying character, but I loved that she had principals and a backbone. Her friendship with the other Wallflowers, Lillian and Daisy Bowman, two outspoken Americans seeking a titled husband, and shy Evie Jenner, was so perfected. I love how they all supported each other and had an easy sort of camaraderie and friendship right at the start. I think Lillian was my favorite of the bunch and I cannot wait to dive into her story which will clearly be with the Earl of Westcliff. I think my favorite scene of the whole book might be when the Wallflowers decide to play rounders in their knickers – that was just pure joy. With Simon, I ended up liking him early on. It’s nice to have a hero who clearly loves the heroine from the start and is actually a decent guy about it. I felt like Simon didn’t really try to push Annabelle or was overly aggressive in his seduction – instead it felt like he tried to show Annabelle the real him and let her come around to liking him on her own.
The plot of this book took you on a wild ride – you have everything from a sleazy lord to a snake bite to an exploding factory. I literally did not know where this book was going next half the time and I loved it. The story moved along very quickly, yet nothing felt rushed in Simon and Annabelle’s relationship – I felt their relationship developed and progressed at a great pace as they really got to know and care for eachother. Annabelle was able to come around to seeing Simon genuinely cared for her and overcome some of her misconceptions she had about him in the beginning.
This was a great start to a series and I’m so excited to dive into the rest of the books! I loved all the Wallflowers and cannot wait to dive into Lillian and Westcliff’s book, which I know is going to be a favorite based on their interactions in this one.