Who doesn’t love a good regency romance?
If you answered “I don’t” to that question, you might as well move on. If you answered with anything else, please keep reading.
Before the Wallflower series by Lisa Kleypas I actually hadn’t read any regency romance novels. I did fall victim to binging the first season of Bridgerton on Netflix and when my boss and I began discussing the show, she suggested I read the Wallflower series (one of her all-time favorite romance series). My boss has yet to steer me wrong with her book recommendations so I of course put them on my TBR. Then she brought me her paperback copies so it made it even easier for me to start reading them.
The series focuses on four young women; Annabelle, Lillian, Evie, and Daisy in their quest to find each other husbands in the 1800s in England. They all form a tight bond together because of their commonality of being a “wallflower” at all the debutante events where instead of filling their dance cards, they find themselves on the edge of the dance floor. Each book focuses on one of the wallflower’s journey’s to find love with chaotic and perilous moments and the all-important steamy scenes that ultimately lead to them walking down the aisle.
Secrets of a Summer Night follows the eldest of the wallflowers, Annabelle. Annabelle is nearing the end of her “eligible years” and has no dowry to offer a suitor so her only option is to find a wealthy man willing to marry her just for her. She and the other wallflowers try to find her anyone but the presumptuous, yet handsome, Simon Hunt who has shown his admiration of Annabelle since he first laid eyes on her. The two of them enter into a war where they attempt to outwit and challenge the other over the course of several small battles, each taking turns winning. Of course, throughout these battles, Annabelle finds herself not hating Simon as she once did but starting to fall for him.
The first installment really sets up the whole series by introducing the wallflowers and setting up their stories. I really enjoyed Annabelle’s story because something about her independence and stubbornness to find the perfect man without “settling” was a great, relatable storyline. She has a personality that I really enjoyed reading about and her challenges and triumphs sort of set the tone for the other three’s journeys.
It Happened One Autumn is Lillian’s story. Lillian Bowman and younger sister Daisy are not shy individuals destined to be wallflowers like Annabelle and Evie. Instead, they are seen as the loud and boisterous American girls who don’t follow the customs of English aristocracy. Lillian in particular is an outspoken young woman who eligible bachelors find to be too much to handle. Of those eligible bachelors, one in particular, Lord Marcus Westcliff, sees her almost as an abomination. A common trope you find in romance novels is just how Lillian and Marcus’s hateful relationship turns to one of passionate love.
I liked all the wallflower books but I think of the four, I enjoyed Lillian and Marcus’s story the most. Their relationship was comical at times and I found myself rolling my eyes and thinking “just kiss already” which made me want to keep reading and follow their story even more intently. Lillian’s relationship with her sister was also a large element of the storyline which I enjoyed reading.
Devil in Winter is where we get the shyest wallflower’s story. Evangeline (Evie) Jenner has lived her entire life hiding in the shadows with a stutter that has practically branded her as unmarriable. She is seeking a husband for a different reason than the other wallflowers, to escape her controlling, abusive family. Unlike her fellow companions, love was not a priority for her marriage. So, she does the only thing she can think of, to propose a marriage of convenience to the first man willing to accept her hand (and her dowry). Her first choice, the abrasive womanizer Sebastian St. Vincent.
Evie builds up her inner strength while with Sebastian and to her surprise, breaks down Sebastian’s protective wall. With the two’s individual growth, they begin to fall in love and develop a strong relationship. I really liked this installment of the series because Kleypas makes you fall in love and sympathize with Evie and her struggles as a young, misunderstood woman. And then she does it with Sebastian who I personally had grown to hate in the previous novels. Devil in Winter was probably the best novel in regards to character development which I look for in books.
Scandal in Spring closes the main series with the youngest wallflower, Daisy. Daisy has now seen the three others find love in their marriages and isn’t necessarily in a hurry to find a husband of her own. When her father gives her an ultimatum and informs her that if she’s unable to find a husband in England, she will be married off to his young American mentee Matthew Swift. Daisy’s desire to stay in England with her sister and friends combined with her memories of the distasteful Swift have her determined to find anyone else to take her hand in marriage before the season is up. Of course, when Swift arrives in England, she meets an entirely different, charming, and handsome, man than the one she remembered.
The two find themselves caught in a passionate relationship that neither expected but when a scandal comes to light, Daisy and Sebastian’s future is suddenly in peril. The final story wraps up the entire series nicely and I enjoyed Daisy’s journey. Though she was the youngest wallflower, I felt like her story focused on her as an individual and how she didn’t really need a husband to be happy which was refreshing to read.
Overall, I really liked the series and the writing style throughout. I think the character development was a huge plus in each novel and even though the story was set in the 1800s, a lot of the building elements to the plot were relatable. And as in all romance novels, the steamier scenes that we all look forward to were well-written, fit into the storyline, and didn’t feel forced. The four novels and individual storylines were easy to follow and could stand alone but tied together in the perfect way.
There are spin-off series from Lisa Kleypas that I hope to read at some point because I really enjoyed her storytelling. If you are interested in regency romance and haven’t picked up one of Kleypas’s books, I recommend you start with the Wallflower series.