Lisa Kleypas – “Secrets Of A Summer Night”

16 Dec

GENRE: Romance / Historical
PUBLISHED: Avon Books, 2006 (2004)

SERIES: “Wallflower” series, book 1

WHY THIS NOVEL: To read Devil in Winter, book 3 in the “Wallflower” series.

The back blurb:
“Four young ladies enter society with one common goal: they must use their feminine wit and wiles to find a husband. So a daring husband-hunting scheme is born.

Annabelle Peyton, determined to save her family from disaster, decides to use her beauty and wit to tempt a suitable nobleman into making an offer of marriage. But Annabelle’s most intriguing–and persistent–admirer, wealthy, powerful Simon Hunt, has made it clear that while he will introduce her to irresistible pleasure he will not offer marriage. Annabelle is determined to resist his unthinkable proposition…but it is impossible in the face of such skillful seduction.
Her friends, looking to help, conspire to entice a more suitable gentleman to offer for Annabelle, for only then will she be safe from Simon–and her own longings. But on one summer night, Annabelle succumbs to Simon’s passionate embrace and tempting kisses…and she discovers that love is the most dangerous game of all.”

I don’t feel much like writing. This is no reaction to the novel, I’m just a bit tired of writing (book comments) right now. I just list a few of my thoughts about the novel.

~ * ~

  • I liked Annabelle’s character (if I remember correctly, I’m in the minority with that). Her transformation from a rather unscrupulous, only-marrying-a-peer-with-money person to someone who realizes that she doesn’t want to be a person like that worked for me. I especially liked that Annabelle learned new things and broadened her horizon through her marriage with Simon. It’s something she never could have appreciated (and expected) at the start of the story.
  • The look at how industrialization transformed society added an interesting additional layer to the story, contrasting the classes in their view on life and the way they lived their life. I enjoyed that very much.
  • I liked the friendship between the four women.
  • I thought that the attraction between Simon and Annabell was very well done. Here’s their first meeting:

    It seemed as if some subtle current of recognition had passed between them … not as if they had met before … but as if they had come close several times until finally an impatient Fate had forced their paths to intersect. A strange fancy, but one she couldn’t seem to dismiss. Unnerved, she remained a helpless captive of his intent stare, until her cheeks were infused with hot, unwelcome color. (6)

  • I was totally on board with the story until the marriage. It was a slow pace but everything worked to keep me reading because of the anticipation of Annabelle – especially Annabelle – and Simon giving in to their attraction. After the marriage, I thought the story had lost its unifying line that kept the different story layers and lines together and it still had more than 100 pages to go. Of course, the couple had to realize that it actually was in love but this seemed only one story line amongst others, not the dominant one. In fact, everything seemed to be equal important: Annabelle’s adjustment to her new life + learning more about life, further looks at the differences in lives and ethics of the peers and the working class; Simon’s and Annabelle’s life together. I didn’t get a sense of being pulled towards the climax of the story – the realization of their being in love – like I had before the marriage of being pulled towards their succumbing to their attraction.
  • The highly dramatic scene that made Annabelle and Simon admit their love therefore seemed slightly out of the blue, although it provided a very good opportunity for Annabelle to demonstrate that she left her class resentments decidedly behind her. But it would have been more fitting if she had the chance to demonstrate that without having a symbol of industrialization burn down, IMO. I keep thinking it somewhat contradicts the point the story makes about industrialization.
  • Why Simon was not the marrying-kind had to be accepted at face value; there never was an explanation for this.

Final thought:

  • This is the fifth novel by Kleypas I read and the third that ends with a near-death scene to make the couple admit their love.
  • I don’t regret reading Secrets of a Summer Night just to read Devil in Winter.

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Yes.

Grade: 4 / 5


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