For the last Cannonball, I reviewed books 1 and 3 in the Wallflowers series and enjoyed them; I was asked if I was going to read the Bowman sisters’ books? I am very glad I did, because Lillian’s book, It Happened One Autumn, is possibly my favorite of the four.
To recap: the Wallflowers series is about four women who, for various reasons, are having trouble finding suitable husbands in their circles. The eldest, Annabelle, is from a respected family but has no dowry; she finds love in the first book in the series. The second oldest, Lillian, is one of two sisters from America. She and her younger sister Daisy are very wealthy, heiresses to their fathers’ soap manufacturing fortune, but due to their American upbringing they are hopelessly out of touch with British society customs. The fourth Wallflower is Evie Jenner, who is also wealthy but paralyzingly shy; her story is told in the third book.
It Happened One Autumn pairs Lillian against the Earl of Westcliff, the not-handsome-but-still-devastatingly-masculine (one of my favorite romance descriptors) most eligible society bachelor around. He’s as opinionated and stubborn as Lillian, so naturally the two “despise” each other. Just kidding. They’re the perfect match. Love/hate is already kind of romance catnip for me, but what really sealed my appreciation for this book was a particular scene in the gardens on Westcliff’s estate where Lillian needs to hide for a moment and she ends up in a cozy nook with Westcliff and — oh! — illicit foliage encounters are just the best.
Scandal in Spring is Daisy’s story, and therein Papa Bowman is Fed! Up! with not having his youngest married off, so he is dead set on setting her up with Matthew Swift, another American who is showing promise in being able to lead the Bowmans’ soap empire some day. Both Daisy and Lillian are prejudiced against him, remembering him as cold, ruthless, unfeeling, and additionally, kind of scrawny and average looking. Imagine Daisy’s surprise when they meet again and he’s actually really attractive and pretty nice, on top of it! I had the most trouble with this book. It’s one thing for people to change, or for rakes and scoundrels in these books to show their softer sides to their beloveds, but the Bowmans’ assessment of Matthew’s character in the past just didn’t jibe at all with the man presented in the pages. He was sweet, charming, and devoted to Daisy from the get-go, with only a passing reference to how yes, he’s an ambitious businessman, but there is nothing that indicates that he’s cutthroat at all. Weirder is how Lillian hangs onto this weird bias against him throughout most of the book, despite literally everyone else (the wallflowers, their husbands, and Daisy herself) like him a lot. So, while the romance itself was very sweet, the whole thing didn’t come together for me quite as well.
All together, I really enjoyed this series and have already recommended it to several friends. So here is where I throw a kiss and curtsey in the direction of Mrs. Julien and Malin for recommending them to me!