SECRETS OF A SUMMER NIGHT
Lisa Kleypas, . . Avon, $6.99 (375pp) ISBN 978-0-06-009129-3
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.
Reviewed on: 10/11/2004