Review: Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas
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 have to have to give this book 5 stars. I wasn't expecting this book to be what it was, but I'm glad it exceeded my expectation.s This review contains light spoilers. Read at your own risk. Also, this is book one in Kleypas Wallflowers series.
This romance is sharp, witty, well written, beautifully paced and does an amazing job of showing rather than telling. I have to praise this author for developing characters that I understand inside and outside because their actions, and feelings and words show us who they are. Annabelle is a strong woman, with a lot of spirit, and I know this not because Kleypas tells me, but because Annabelle's witty sense of humor, her intelligent assessment of her precarious situation, and of the characters of others, as well as the way she deals with them, tells me so. She's got nerve and pride, and it's that ultimately that makes her so strong. She's willing to fight tooth and nail to keep herself and her family protected in a society where single women of no income have no protection, or recourse to help themselves. She might be thought of as a gold digger by the peerage, but Annabelle is definitely not that. It's not wealth or prestige that she's after, but security for herself and her family. And if she wants to keep herself from going into service or becoming a rich man's mistress, I can't blame her for that. I admire her passion, the steely fire of her determination and how much she respects herself. It would be easy to become a mistress because she's beautiful, but Annabelle knows she can do better, and I never get the feeling that it's pride talking. More like, she knows she's worth more than debasing herself like that. And she certainly gets what she's worth.
And Simon Hunt is not the man she wants. She practically had a lord in the bag, but it's Hunt she gets. And wants. I really like that Annabelle gets what she wants, to fall in love, because she does fall in love with Simon. And he falls in love with her. I thought with him we were going to get the rake/villian-hero, but I was delightedly wrong. He's not a gentleman of the peerage, but he's got more good sense and honour than the lords we saw in this book. And I love love LOVE Simon. I love how much he loves Annabelle. I love that he's the man who shows all his feelings without ever betraying more than a look. I love that we've shown this, not told. Bold, honest to a fault, he pursues her for a mistress at first (and no, that doesn't detract from my loving him one little bit because at least, unlike some others, he doesn't try to force her into this) and then decides he feels far too much for her to only have her as a mistress. He wants, most romantically, all of it. The sort of heartbreaking love affair of legends. And yet the choice is hers, lover or husband he asks her. And I love this, it's not a seduction, it's not a confession dragged out of her by drugging kisses or a heated disagreement. The scene plays out quick and it's her choice. Yes, some might argue Simon manipulated the circumstances a wee bit. A very wee bit, I would argue, she knew the game they were playing. She was also playing a master manipulator with Kendall. And anyway, she wanted him, so what of it? It was more of a strategy than a manipulation, and their chess game had warned her of what was coming. Besides, his actions were characteristic of him and I'll never frown on consistency in characterization. I have to love Simon because he loves so much. All that protectiveness he felt towards Annabelle? It was beautiful. Usually romances have this big burly heroes who have protect their women because she's theirs. It's read like possession, but not with Simon. He protects Annabelle because he loves her, and what hurts her hurts him. He protects her because she's her and he loves her. I really love this character.
Now, on to the steamy stuff...it took three quarters of the book to get to our bedroom scenes. A rather long time, but well worth it. More time was spent developing the story and characters and it made the story the better for it I think. It was also far more in character for Annabelle, since they are married before they make love. Notice I say make love. This book is NOT smutty. Does it have sex scenes? Yes. Do we get the feel that the couple are enjoying themselves? Yes. But you get far more than how hot and bothered they are for each other's bodies. You get the feeling there's a deeper level they are also lusting after together and that makes these scenes something other than smut. And dare I say it, far more romantic.
FIVE glittering stars. And on I'm shelving this with my favourites.
I'm a thirty something girl who loves to read, write and dream. Because I'm so addicted to the written word in all its forms, I created this blog to share the books that devastate me with you.