Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Review: Scandal In Spring by Lisa Kleypas (Guest reviewer - Tiger Holland)
Scandal in Spring - Historical Romance
Welcome to book four in the Wallflowers quartet, a series of historical romances about four friends who are ignored by the marriageable gentlemen in London's society. Daisy Bowman and her sister Lillian (who got married in book two, It Happened One Autumn) have the same problem: they're both attractive girls with mountains of money, but they're from America, and their frank, open New York manners don't impress the genteel peers of the Victorian era. Lillian managed to fall in love with and marry Lord Westcliff, an earl, but Daisy still has no prospects after three seasons in London. This doesn't sit well with her father, a crotchety businessman who prizes success above all things. Here's a sampling of his dialogue with Daisy, from page 1:
“You are not meant for the British peerage.” Frowning, Bowman added, “Or perhaps the peerage isn't meant for you. I have received a poor rate of return on my investment in your husband-seeking. Do you know what that means, Daisy?”
“I'm an underperforming stock?” she guessed.
Daisy's adorable reply to her father's insult says a lot about her character. She's a romantic dreamer who loves to read books and let her imagination run free. But her freedom is about to be cut short because her father gives her an ultimatum: find a husband within the next two months or accept Matthew Swift, the man he's picked out for her. Matthew is Mr. Bowman's right hand man, the kind of ambitious man that he wants to inherit the Bowman soap company some day. Daisy hasn't seen Matthew in years, but she remembers him as a cold and calculating automaton without a sense of humor. Daisy's idea of Matthew as a stoic, skinny teenager makes it all the more delightful when he shows up at her brother-in-law's property and she doesn't recognize him because he's filled out and become warm and confident. He also looks a good deal like the handsome villain she's imagined while reading her favorite adventurous novel. Oh, my...
Matthew has been in love with Daisy since forever, but she's been so far out of his reach, he's never had the hope of dancing with her, much less marrying her. He sees how loving and generous she is, how cheerful and romantic, and her minor character flaws don't phase him because he sees her true value. To him, she's absolutely magical, but he's not bent on courting her; he actually resents her father's plan to make Daisy marry him. Matthew's keeping a big secret about his identity, one that could cause trouble for Daisy if she were involved with him, so he hopes she'll stay far away from him and marry someone else, although he realizes that most other men could never appreciate her.
Daisy's deep prejudice against Matthew gradually unravels over the course of a few weeks at her brother-in-law's estate, where she sees Matthew in a variety of advantageous situations. He helps her rescue a trapped, wounded goose. (Aww.) He improvises a teething ring for a distressed baby. (Precious!) He plays a viciously competitive day-long lawn bowling game with her. (Atta boy.) He rides out in a storm to find a physician for her sister Lillian when she goes into labor. (Daisy, if you don't marry him, I will.) The list goes on and on. And added to his other merits, on a romantic level Matthew proves without a doubt that it's the quiet ones you have to watch out for—their silence conceals boundless intensity.
One of the problems that often arise in series' which follow a group of friends or siblings as they all get their happy-afters, is the pileup of cute couples. By the final installment, there's often so much sugar in the atmosphere that you half expect to see a chorus line of unicorns tap dancing on a rainbow in the background. But in this final Wallflowers book, the previous couples don't annoy, and they're not overplayed. The four women are all still friends, so we see plenty of my fav previous character Lillian since she's Daisy's sister, and we see some of the great couple Evie and Lord St. Vincent, and a tad of Annabelle and Simon.
The two main characters themselves are very charismatic. I usually keep a strong visual image of a character in mind when I read, and when I picture Daisy, I think of Ashley Greene as Alice in New Moon: cute petite brunette, always smiling and moving around, barely keeping her energy contained. For Matthew, I picture Ryan Kwanten from True Blood, but in a suit and acting reserved and intelligent.
My only nitpick is that Daisy and Matthew aren't always as circumspect as they might be. There are several instances where I had to suspend disbelief to accept that they weren't going to be caught. They didn't cover their tracks that well and it was a world's wonder that no one found out, but that's a small issue. Overall, Scandal in Spring is a really satisfying historical. Lisa Kleypas is one of my most loved authors because she writes stories that make you want to inhabit the scenery. She's never over-descriptive, but she paints the prettiest pictures and then sets memorable characters loose in them, to work their magic. If you like historicals, you probably already read Kleypas, and if you've yet to try the genre, she and Julia Quinn and the ladies to seek out. You won't be disappointed.
Grade: 3.5 of 4.
This review was by Tiger Holland from Tiger's All Consuming Books. She has a fantastic blog so go check it out - especially her Sunday Sonnet reviews!
Thank you so much Tiger for doing this review and giving me a chance to catch up "post BEA"!
Authors website: http://www.lisakleypas.com/
Buy the book! A Scandal in Spring (The Wallflowers, Book 4)