Friday, April 16

Scandal in Spring - Lisa Kleypas

Daisy Bowman has managed to pass through three London seasons without attracting a husband, much to the disgust of her self-made father. He didn't bring her, her sister and his wife from New York without making good matches for both his daughters, and he'd imagined that Daisy's sister Lillian would be the harder to marry off. Almost despite herself, Lillian managed to snare an earl, but Daisy? Nothing. And so Thomas Bowman gave Daisy an ultimatum - if she was not engaged within two months, she would marry his right hand man, Matthew Swift. Daisy loathed that thin, pasty, ill-attired man who seemed in every remark and perspective to emulate the father who had never understood her.
But seeing Mr Swift again after some three years was... interesting. He seemed to have grown into features that ill-suited him as a youth, and almost despite herself Daisy found herself attracted to him. Yet he seemed disinterested in her, and instead of considering herself spurned, Daisy was spurred on.
Kleypas's writing is deft, her characterisation subtle yet complex, and her plot was absorbing. Both hero and heroine were likable without blandness, and the obstacles to romance were convincing within the setting. The heat was well written - sensuous without being overly graphic, but I had just a little trouble believing that a young woman of the era would so heedlessly countenance 'physical love' with a man to whom she was no even engaged.
Matthew harbours a secret, one that would not only destroy his reputation and career but also his liberty, and though a little more could have been made of this earlier, the finale is urgent and breathtaking. Daisy's skills with lockpicking were unexpected, but I assume that they were discussed in greater detail in previous novels.
It was evident fairly early on that Scandal in Spring, though it read easily as a stand-alone, was the fourth in a quartet of romance novels centering around sisters Daisy and Lillian and their 'wallflower' friends Annabelle and Evie - at this point they're all happily married, one is with child and one has an infant. The rapport and friendship between the women is as evident, and I felt a little cheated that I had missed the opportunity to watch it develop. So much so, in fact, that I intend checking out the three previous books in the Wallflowers quartet - I may know that each heroine has a happy ever after, but one hardly reads the genre with an expectation of any other kind of ending. - Alex

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