I don’t know if this was the best Kleypas to start off with, my other Romance readers will have to let me know, but I was not overly enraptured with it, even though its set in my favorite historical decade. There was plenty in this book which had the potential to hook me in, but it felt very by the numbers, even for a book that supposes its turning the tropes on themselves. (I unfortunately have a high bar for that.) Mrs. Julien is going to be so annoyed with me (she rates this book as 5 stars, I’d give it 3.5. It is very obvious why Beth Ellen is her romance twin and not I).
Secrets of a Summer Night is the first book of the Wallflowers series and focuses on the passed over debutantes of their season: Annabelle, Evie, Lillian, and Daisy. The four are young women out in society who bond over their mutual rejection by eligible men. After spending time on the side lines of many a ballroom, they decide to make friends with the women next to them and work together to find suitable husbands.
First up is Annabelle, 25 and about to be in serious danger of being made into someone’s mistress. Annabelle’s father passed away several years preceding the action of the book, and his minor fortune has not lasted, no matter how carefully Annabelle or her mother have been about their finances. Enter Simon Hunt, who has been highly interested in Annabelle since a chance meeting a few years earlier. Being stuck in the middle class, no matter how rich his financial investments in business have made him, he knows Annabelle won’t marry him and he’s not the marrying sort anyway so he’ll just procure her as a mistress. But Annabelle won’t be anyone’s mistress if she can avoid it, and with the help of her friends she’s using a country house party to ensnare a member of the peerage.
Of course things don’t work out that way, this is a romance novel after all, and instead we are treated to some lovely scenes of a headstrong woman and a rake sure that he doesn’t need reforming coming to understand that they do in fact wish to be married to the other. I was… only okay with the book up to that point, no matter how much I enjoyed the characters. I thought the book improved once they were married and the characters had to figure out how to exist in each other’s worlds. I also REALLY liked the other wallflowers and hope to have a better experience as I head through those books soon.
Book Cover: The edition I read had the above cover, and it does not feature people at all, so I can’t really rant about how the dress is wrong (some of the other covers I’ve seen roaming around are very pretty, but not historically accurate) but I wanted to steal Malin’s thing just to point out how rare it is to NOT have a lady in a foofy dress on the cover of a romance novel these days.