I might be a bit fatigued by the formula by book four but I definitely appreciated the freedom of consent this book, and that we finally have a Wallflower who takes the lead in pursuing her man and acting on her own desires! To me this makes the sexy scenes a lot hotter.
Finally it is Daisy Bowman’s turn to find her husband. I always liked Daisy, certainty a lot more than I do her sister (see It Happened On Autumn), so I was glad to finally get to a book focused on her. The Love Interest’s appearance felt quite forced but once we met him I did like him more than I expected. What lets this one down is the big old anti-climax in the final act when his “deep dark secret” is revelated to be actually quite lame and not really that much of an issue, before a very rushed finale.
As the other American sister, Daisy share some of the same brash and outspoken traits as Lillian but she is generally more empathetic and reasonable. Daisy is a dreamer who prefers her books and fantasies to the dull confines of her real life.
I loved that Daisy very quickly realises that her impression of Matthew is outdated and wrong, and that she is in fact very attracted to him. We don’t waste any time on a tired “enemies to lovers” type trope (we already did that with Lillian, after all). She actually flirts with him! She is the one that pursues him, she is the one that makes the first move, and she is the one that initiates sex. I absolutely loved it! This felt so fresh and exciting after three books of sexual passivity and dubious consent! I just really needed this, thank you Lisa Kleypas!
Daisy supposed she ought to feel ashamed, locking herself in his bedroom and demanding to be seduced. Instead she felt triumphant. And strangely precarious, as if she were balanced on the edge of a new kind of intimacy that went beyond the physical.
Matthew is also an American, he is the protégé of Daisy’s father and has been around the family for most of his adult life. He is a very smart and savvy businessman, as well as somehow insanely buff simply by having a cook that feeds him well? (Sure). He has strong, confident energy but not in the aggressive, closed off macho way that Westcliff and Simon Hunt begin with in the earlier novels. Matthew is very open and respectful from the start, so his growth does not come from any personal failings aside from being kind of an idiot about this “terrible secret” he has, and a realisation that he should have trusted Mr Bowman with it years earlier.
All it would take was for one person to put two and two together … one person to recognize him for what and who he really was. Daisy deserved a husband who was honest and whole, not one who had built his life on lies.
Matthew and Daisy have some great chemistry, I really enjoyed the crochet scene. It could have been trite but I actually found it quite natural and dare I say, cute? As I have already said the fact that both parties are openly attracted, actually flirt and are very much up for the sex in this one make the scenes much more fun.
At some point, Daisy wasn’t exactly certain when, their competitiveness changed to grudging appreciation of each other’s skill. When Swift complimented her on a particularly masterful shot or when she found herself enjoying the sight of his silent calculations, the way his eyes narrowed and his head tilted a little to the side … she was enthralled.
Lisa Kleypas just knows how to write those small details, the little things that are truly romantic that all add up to falling in love with someone.
What lets the story down is that the pacing is very uneven, and by now I know what the formula is. I know that by the end of the book at least one of the pair will have faced some kind of mortal peril. In this one we know we have this “dark secret” looming to prevent them marrying. There was never any foreshadowing on the context of this secret so I just knew it was going to be stupid, this kind of thing is always stupid because it needs to be easily dealt with in order for them to marry by the end and live happy ever after with all their friends.
Not only was it kind of stupid, it was really brushed over, and over and done with in a matter of pages! It happens so fast I was just confused and never had time to be emotionally invested in Matthew’s fate or its impact on Daisy!
The good men work for a living
This one is well observed through the series, and by this book we also have an American hero so we get of that “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” flavour with his journey to success that we also found in Simon Hunt from book one. The true villain of the story also turns out to be another spoiled, privileged son who mooches off his Dad’s money.
Family relationships are complicated
Mr and Mrs Bowman are not very likeable. They are both ruthless – her with her social climbing and him in his business and expectations for his daughters. Mr Bowman is horribly dismissive of Daisy with her dreamy, bookish nature and just needs her to get married to be out of his hands. He wants to marry her off so they can stop spending time on money husband hunting in England.
In contrast he absolutely loves Matthew and has a completely different relationship with him that is actually quite sweet. This also puts Matthew in odd spot between his loyalty to Thomas Bowman, his love for Daisy daughter, and dislike of the way she is dismissed by the family.
We also do get some scenes with Lillian, the older and now married and pregnant sister. She does manage to get some time in being Lillian, interfering and being immovable in her dislike for Matthew (based on nothing much) despite Daisy’s love for him. Though we learn that no small part of that was her fear that he would take her sister back to American and away from her.
Families are complicated!
This isn’t a theme it just really tickled me to read!
God save us from yet more interference from politicians. The government would run the railroads as inefficiently as they do everything else. And the monopoly would stifle the industry’s ability to compete, resulting in higher taxes, not to mention—’
Writing this review in the UK in 2023 this statement (from Westcliff) is absolutely hilarious! Privatising the railway is one the worst things that has happened to this country, our railway services are notoriously shit and expensive – and have been rail strikes for 6 months over poor pay and conditions!
Recommendation: 3/5 Hearts
I enjoyed it a lot until the final third which was a let down but I still recommend this for the steamy, refreshingly consensual, romance with the heroine actually taking the lead. It’s not Devil in Winter (what is) but you can do a lot worse!
I would say there is a criminal lack of Evie and St Vincent, just a couple of tiny mentions. Evie relegated back to be the true wallflower of the group!
Read all my reviews for The Wallflowers series
Have you read Scandal in Spring or the others in The Wallflowers series?
Are you a romance book fan? Please share your thoughts with a comment below! I would also love any recommendations for similar books for next time I’m in the mood for some romance!