5 star book review for Secrets of a Summer Night, historical romance novel by Lisa Kleypas.
[Some Spoilers; For Mature Audiences]
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I’m so thankful for friends who recommend amazing books. Lisa Kleypas’ Wallflowers series is undoubtedly included in that category, and Secrets of a Summer Night is a captivating kick-off, worthy of 5 stars!
We begin with Annabelle Peyton, who lives in London with her mother and her brother. Unfortunately, her father has died and her family is dealing with some pretty severe poverty. One evening, as Annabelle and her brother (Jeremy) are trying to get into a show at the theater, she meets Simon Hunt. Simon is the son of a butcher, but becomes very wealthy as a merchant/financial speculator. Simon joins Annabelle and Jeremy for the show, and in a single moment, towards the end…
“…before she could make a sound, his mouth, possessing hers in a warm, softly ravishing kiss… A kiss so slow and dizzying that it filled her with delirium.”
SO HOT, right?! But then Simon disappears!
Fast-forward to two years later: after being out in society for 4 seasons, Annabelle is almost 25 and a wallflower with an empty dance card. Without a dowry, she’s practically unmarriageable. And sadly, Annabelle’s family is still in dire financial straits. In a twist of fate, Annabelle and three other wallflowers (Evangeline Jenner and Lillian and Daisy Bowman) enter into an agreement to help each other find husbands:
“We’ll supplement each other’s weaknesses and give advice and assistance when needed.”
In the meantime, Simon has continued to pursue Annabelle, though they never mention the secret kiss from two years ago. But since he isn’t a peer and he’s a (*gasp*) professional, Annabelle isn’t the least bit interested in giving in to Simon. However, as the Wallflowers gather in the country for a hunting party (which quickly turns into a husband-hunting party), Annabelle and Simon’s hostile relationship starts to morph with each passion-filled interaction. Will she be able to overcome her preconceived notions and find love and security with Simon?
I ADORE Annabelle! She’s has an incredible combination of humility and determination, which makes her a fierce protector of her family and loved ones. Every single one of Annabelle’s decisions is aimed at improving her mother and brother’s lives, irrespective of what it may mean for her. Annabelle is witty, fierce, and I would definitely want her on my team.
Then there’s Simon, who is pretty much my perfect man. He’s unbelievably intelligent, shrewd, and possessive (but not in a bad way):
“Simon Hunt had learned at an early age that since fate had not blessed him with noble blood, wealth, or unusual gifts, he would have to wrest his fortune from an uncharitable world….[he] loved the language of economics, the elements of trade and industry and politics…”
Again, he’s my perfect man…but he’s also perfect for Annabelle.
I LOVE watching their tet-a-tet…Annabelle and Simon can be pretty harsh with one another:
S: “I merely thought you would enjoy a temporary respite from being a perpetual wallflower. And if this ball follows your usual pattern, my offer to dance is likely the only one you’ll get.”
A: “Such charm. Such artful flattery. How could I refuse?”
But at the same time, their attraction can’t be ignored:
“It seemed as if some subtle current of recognition had passed between them…not as if they have met before…but as if they had come close several times until finally an impatient Fate had forced their paths to intersect.”
“All he knew was that sight of Annabelle in the glittering light of the chandeliers was very nearly knee-weakening…Annabelle was smart, careful, uncompromising, and still beautiful…”
Ultimately, Simon wants to take care of Annabelle:
A: “I’ll admit it–I want you. There, are you satisfied, I want you.”
S: “In what capacity? Lover or husband?”
A: “We would probably kill each other within the first month.”
S: “Probably. But marry me anyway, Annabelle… Let me spoil you. Let me take care of you. You’ve never had anyone to lean on, have you? I’ve got strong shoulders Annabelle…”
Of course, I must mention that there are several HOT HOT HOT moments between them too:
“At the touch of his passion-heated breath on her nipple, she stopped straining and went still… He took her into his mouth his tongue brushing gently until the peak was wet and tender-hard, and her veins were filled with simmering honey.”
“She kissed him and let her tongue enter his mouth, and she drew her hands down his back, until her palms reached the hard contours his buttocks. She stroked him in shy encouragement, urging him to sink deeper inside her.”
“Finally, after two years of pursuit, he was having his long- sought waltz with her. And more satisfying still, Annabelle would still be his after the waltz… he would take her back to the hotel, and undress her, and make love to her until dawn.”
The ending of this story is surprisingly action-packed! There’s intrigue, deceit, and some pretty death-defying heroics!
But ultimately, our darling Annabelle and Simon seize their happiness together:
S: “I love you dammit… Without limit. Beyond forever.”
I enjoy every moment of this book, and in particular, the friendship between Annabelle, Evie, Lillian and Daisy is the best! I have every confidence that the remainder of the series will be just as entertaining.
All my historical romance lovers will be thrilled with this story, an absolute MUSTREAD!