Secrets of a Summer Night (Wallflower Series #1)

Secrets of a Summer Night (Wallflower Series #1)

4.3 294
by Lisa Kleypas

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The Wallflowers

Four young ladies at the side of the ballroom make a pact to help each other find husbands . . . no matter what it takes

Proud and beautiful Annabelle Peyton could have her pick of suitors—if only she had a dowry. Her family is on the brink of disaster, and the only way Annabelle can save them is to marry a wealthy man. Unfortunately her

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The Wallflowers

Four young ladies at the side of the ballroom make a pact to help each other find husbands . . . no matter what it takes

Proud and beautiful Annabelle Peyton could have her pick of suitors—if only she had a dowry. Her family is on the brink of disaster, and the only way Annabelle can save them is to marry a wealthy man. Unfortunately her most persistent admirer is the brash Simon Hunt, a handsome and ambitious entrepreneur who wants her as his mistress.

Annabelle is determined to resist Simon's wicked propositions, but she can't deny her attraction to the boldly seductive rogue, any more than he can resist the challenge she presents. As they try to outmaneuver each other, they find themselves surrendering to a love more powerful than they could have ever imagined. But fate may have other plans—and it will take all of Annabelle's courage to face a peril that could destroy everything she holds dear.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Deftly evoking not only the romantic tension between hero and heroine but also the conflicts and challenges of the Victorian era, this superb romance from Kleypas launches her new series centered on the Wallflowers, four young ladies who are sick of being snubbed and overlooked by London's bachelors and who have banded together to find themselves husbands. Beautiful Annabelle Peyton represents Old World aristocracy; she's genteel but impoverished and desperately trying to maintain the appearance of wealth. Commoner Simon Hunt, on the other hand, is a brash, ambitious entrepreneur who has made a fortune investing in industry and railroads and is only marginally accepted by society. As Annabelle attempts to trap a moneyed aristocrat into marriage-with the help of her vivacious fellow Wallflowers, of course-Simon boldly pursues her, first with the desire to make her his mistress and then with far more noble intentions. The scenes involving Annabelle and the three other Wallflowers-two impudent American girls and a shy, stuttering English heiress-are almost as enjoyable as the ones in which Annabelle and Simon try to outmaneuver each other. The protagonists inevitably wind up at the altar, but their story doesn't end there. Kleypas delves deeper, touching on Annabelle's changing mindset (specifically, her growing admiration of Simon's working-class roots and her acceptance of everything he stands for) and Simon's insecurity over taking her away from polite society. By turns amusing, sensual and sober, but always compelling, this is a first-rate offering from a truly talented storyteller. Agent, Mel Berger. (Nov.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Wallflower Series, #1
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Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

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Secrets of a Summer Night

Chapter One

London, 1843
The end of the season

A marriage-minded girl could overcome practically any obstacle, except the lack of a dowry.

Annabelle swung her foot impatiently beneath the frothy white mass of her skirts while she kept her expression composed. During her past three failed seasons, she had become accustomed to being a wall-flower. Accustomed, but not resigned. More than once it had occurred to her that she deserved far better than to sit at the side of the room in a spindly chair. Hoping, hoping, hoping, for an invitation that would never come. And trying to pretend that she didn't care -- that she was perfectly happy to be watching others dancing and being courted.

Letting out a long sigh, Annabelle fiddled with the tiny silver dance card that hung from a ribbon on her wrist. The cover slid open to reveal a book of neartranslucent ivory leaves that spread out in a fan. A girl was supposed to pencil the names of her dance partners on those delicate slips of ivory. To Annabelle, the fan of empty cards seemed to resemble a row of teeth, grinning at her mockingly. Snapping the silver case shut, she glanced at the three girls who sat next to her, all endeavoring to look similarly unconcerned with their fates.

She knew exactly why they were there. Miss Evangeline Jenner's considerable family fortune had been made from gambling, and her origins were common. Moreover, Miss Jenner was painfully shy and possessed a stutter, which made the prospect of conversation a session of torture for both participants.

The other two girls, Miss Lillian Bowman, and her younger sister Daisy, had not yet become acclimated to England -- and from the looks of things, it would take them a long time. It was said that the Bowmans' mother had brought the girls from New York because they hadn't been able to get any suitable offers there. The soap bubble heiresses, they were mockingly referred to, or occasionally, the dollar princesses. Despite their elegantly angled cheekbones and tip-tilted dark eyes, they would find no better luck here unless they could find an aristocratic sponsor to vouch for them and teach them how to fit in with British society.

It occurred to Annabelle that in the past few months of this miserable season, the four of them—herself, Miss Jenner, and the Bowmans—had often sat together at balls or soirees, always in the corner or against the wall. And yet they had rarely spoken to each other, trapped in the silent tedium of waiting. Her gaze caught that of Lillian Bowman, whose velvety dark eyes contained an unexpected gleam of humor.

"At least they could have made the chairs more comfortable," Lillian murmured, "when it's obvious that we're going to occupy them all evening."

"We should have our names engraved on them," Annabelle replied wryly. "After all the time I've spent in it, I own this chair."

A muffled giggle came from Evangeline Jenner, who lifted a gloved finger to push back a vivid red curl that had fallen over her forehead. The smile made her round blue eyes sparkle and her cheeks turn pink beneath a scattering of gold freckles. It seemed that a sudden sense of kinship had temporarily caused her to forget her shyness. "It m-makes no sense that you're a wallflower," she told Annabelle. "You're the most beautiful girl here -- men should be f-falling all over themselves to dance with you."

Annabelle lifted her shoulder in a graceful half shrug. "No one wants to marry a girl without a dowry." It was only in the fantasy realm of novels that dukes could marry poor girls. In reality, dukes and viscounts and the like were burdened with the massive fi- nancial responsibility of maintaining large estates and extended families, and helping the tenantry. A wealthy peer needed to marry into money just as badly as a poor one did.

"No one wants to marry a nouveau-riche American girl, either," Lillian Bowman confided. "Our only hope of belonging anywhere is to marry a peer with a solid English title."

"But we have no sponsor," her younger sister, Daisy, added. She was a petite, rather elfin version of Lillian, with the same fair skin, heavy dark hair, and brown eyes. An impish smile touched her lips. "If you happen to know of some nice duchess who would be willing to take us under her wing, we would be much obliged."

"I don't even want to find a husband," Evangeline Jenner confided. "I'm merely s-s-suffering through the season because there is nothing else for me to do. I'm too old to stay at school any longer, and my father ... " She broke off abruptly, and sighed. "Well, I have only one more season to go, then I'll be twentythree and a confirmed spinster. How I'm looking fforward to it!"

"Is twenty-three the measure of spinsterhood these days?" Annabelle asked with half-feigned alarm. She rolled her eyes heavenward. "Good Lord, I had no idea that I was so far past my prime."

"How old are you?" Lillian Bowman asked curiously. Annabelle cast a glance to the right and left, to make certain they were not being overheard. "Twenty-five next month."

The revelation earned three rather pitying glances, and Lillian replied consolingly, "You don't look a day more than twenty-one."

Annabelle clutched her fingers around her dance card until it was concealed in her gloved hand. Time was slipping away quickly, she thought. This, her fourth season, was drawing rapidly to a close. And one simply did not embark on a fifth season -- it would be ludicrous. She had to catch a husband, and soon. Otherwise, they could no longer afford to keep Jeremy at school ... and they would be forced to move from their modest terrace and find a boardinghouse to reside in. And once the downhill slide began, there was no climbing back up ...

Secrets of a Summer Night. Copyright © by Lisa Kleypas. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Secrets of a Summer Night 4.3 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 294 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I stayed up late finishing "Secrets of a Summer Night," and the moment I read the last page, I nearly wanted to cry because there was nothing more to read. Finally, a romance novel about love instead of lust! The novel was so engaging and so satisfying that I couldn't wait to read more from Kleypas, and the very next day, I went out and bought two more of her books. If you're looking for a more realistic development of a romantic relationship between two characters, this would definitely be a book to try. Where most books end with the happy marriage, the author takes it further. It's clear that when they marry, it's probably more out of lust and the beginnings of love. They barely know each other. Annabelle even acknowledges it to herself shortly after she and Simon marry--she hardly knows him, she doesn't have a clear idea what he does for work, and she didn't even have any idea where he lived! (Their romance blossomed at a week-long party at the estate of a mutual acquaintance.) The meat of the book, instead of being how they finally marry and everything's happy, is actually about how they get to really know and care for one another after they marry, and how these two very practical, guarded characters finally acknowledge their love for each other, and this is a process that changes them both. Lisa Kleypas is virtually unbeatable in the hero department. Her heroes are an incredibly potent mix of tender, loving, sexy, arrogant bad boys that I simply can't resist and Simon is no exception. I also have to commend the author for pushing the envelope with Annabelle. She is unapologetically selfish and mercenary and she will stop at nothing to get what she wants. She clearly wants to marry a peer not only for the well being of her mother and brother but also for her own well being. She makes no bones about wanting to be part of high society and having money and servants.     
Guest More than 1 year ago
Well I've been a sucker for a romantic chase between a devilishly handsome, charming, rake since Rhett Butler and Scarlett in 'Gone With The Wind', yet I didn't know it was possible to ever love 4 characters more than them. I was pleasantly suprised after I read Stranger in my Arms I didn't think any of Lisa's books would compare but it keeps getting better. I loved this story, the setting, the era and especially Mr. Simon Hunt. I became lost in this book, totally attached to the characters and saddend when it came close to the end. I have only 2 chapters left to go but I am so happy the story goes on after their wedding it leaves the reader feeling very connected to the couple. I am also happy that there are 3 more Wallflower books I have to look forward to. Even though I've read the other book reviews, It seems hard to believe that this book is the least of the best in the Wallflower series. I loved it so much so I can only wonder how fascinating the others are. I will be moving on to Part 2, 'It Happened One Autumn, but I really don't want to leave Simon and Annabelle behind. How can the other wallflowers top her, and how can any other heroin top Simon...he's so delicious.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I read the back and expected a typical regency romance, but it was far from it. I found the whole story, from beginning to end, to be hugely romantic and very entertaining. All of the Wallflowers make for a really fun cast of characters and you really feel the friendship and fun between them. I thought the hero was a refreshing change. He wasn't the most sought after man with titles and class and all that typical stuff. He was just a man who worked hard and made a great life for himself and he just wanted the woman of his dreams to share it with. It was heartbreaking to read about her snubs towards him when he was clearly so in love with her. When she finally comes around you want to cheer. I just loved this book and I am going to make a point of tracking down more books by Lisa!! I am really looking forward to the rest of the series!
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1841, Annabelle Peyton and her brother Jeremy cannot afford the price of a show so wealthy Simon Hunt, son of a butcher, lends them the money. During the show, the entrepreneur kisses the aristocrat, who to her chagrin enjoyed the moment. However, her upbringing insures she puts a halt to Simon¿s intentions............................ Two years later, Annabelle and three other young females (Evangeline Jenner, Lillian Bowman, and her younger sister Daisy Bowman) form the Wallflowers squad, whose vision is to have each member happily married in the near future. Though she would prefer marrying for love, Annabelle hopes her teammates will help her find a wealthy spouse. Of course, Simon is still enticing and has loot, but can she really wed someone from the working class even if he is willing, which he insists he is not?............................ This early Victorian romance is fun to follow because the support cast, predominantly the other Wallflowers provide depth with their all 'four' one and one for all philosophy of assisting each other in spousal hunting. This teaming freshens up the typical class warfare tale that serves as the prime issue between the lead couple. Fans of husband hunting on an Olympic level will appreciate SECRETS OF A SUMMER NIGHT and look forward to the tales starring Annabelle¿s band of sisters................ Harriet Klausner
Anonymous 8 months ago
I love her stories! I can get lost in them every time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this one! Very romantic and great chemistry between the protagonists. Action with suspence and swooning also involved! I recommend this book. S.A.K.
ruthhill74 More than 1 year ago
** spoiler alert ** I would probably give this book 4.5 stars, but there's no place to do that. This was a refreshingly wonderful read! It was the first time I ever really read a romance novel. It was certainly a good choice.  I was instantly drawn to the story since it took place in the 1800's in England. I love historical novels, so this fit right in.  I fell in love with the main male character--Simon Hunt. He was a charming man--rugged, yet gentle. Annabelle, the object of affection, was has-been aristocrat. The majority of the novel deals with her hunt for a titled, wealthy man. She decides that she needs to marry a titled man and not marry for love. She keeps the company of three other women who are "wallflowers." No aristocrat wants to marry them. As the novel goes along, Annabelle struggles to keep her resolve as Simon pursues her. I won't give away the storyline, but it takes a predictable turn three quarters of the way through the book.  Towards the end of the book, Lisa Kleypas inserts an incident that takes the reader by surprise. And finally, Annabelle and Simon come face to face with their true feelings. The final scene between them is certainly worth the read. Since the story is the first in a series, she inserts an epilogue that sets things in motion for the next books in the series. I think she accomplishes her purpose of giving a teaser for future books. I was very pleased with Lisa Kleypas's writing style. She was very descriptive in the way she told the story. It was a predictable romance novel, I but I felt that she held my interest quite well. One side note--yes, it had a few bedroom scenes, but how refreshing it was that they only occurred after the two got married. (Yes, I guess that is a spoiler.) It may offend some readers, but I felt that it was handled in a delicate manner, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading them. I was not embarrassed in the least. And thankfully, the language used in the book was not what I would call true profanity. That was nice, too!! I would recommend this romance novel to women in their 20's and beyond.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I find it difficult with writers of this time period to balance a good story with a good sexual aspect. I find that Lisa does this very well. I have read all of this series and the following group of siblings. You will not be disappointed reading any of them. She keeps you caring about the characters.....thats the most important thing. I have reread all of the books i own of hers at least three times. They are all good investments of my money. Thank you Lisa for doing your readers proud.
LisaKleypasFan More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this novel because the female protagonist didn't marry the usual peer. Instead she fell in love with a "commoner". It was refreshing, and very intriguing seeing these two come together. Although, it is your typical "she hates him, then loves him" story, nonetheles, it has its quirks.
Eternal--Love78 More than 1 year ago
Annabelle Peyton is a beauty beyond compare. Any pure lineage peer would be well compensated for she is resourceful, kind-hearted, confident, and a head-strong woman. Never giving up on her family's misfortunes at any cost, especially since her father died. As her mother Philippa, younger brother Jeremy, and she have been living without. Constantly wearing out of date clothes, using paste to replace the jewels that were sold in their rings, necklaces, and etc., and any funds they do receive is put forth to Jeremey's school, debts, and bare essentials. Annabelle is determined to marry a peer with an exclusively well accomplished fortune. However, the only man she manages to attract is someone she absolutely has no desires for what so ever, Simon Hunt. Even if his stolen kiss has been playing over & over again in her mind for the past two years; and occasionally running into him in London, she spews his insufferable actions towards her to Philippa. Annabelle is undoubtedly curtain she can overwhelmingly do better than Mr. Hunt. A man who has an infinite repurtation for seducing women, as his mistresses, than cast them aside when he tires of them. It's not until she attends another ball, sitting in her usual section, against the wall amongst the other wallflowers. As Annabelle has seen the same faces at all the other balls she has attended, she forms a long-lasting friendship with these women. The undisciplined Bowman sisters, Lillian and Daisy from America, and a lonely stuttering girl, Evangeline "Evie" Jenner. Both the Bowman's and Miss Jenner possess a prestige wealth. Since Annabelle is the eldest and this being her last season, they have devised a plan to endow her with all the funds necessary, (dresses, information, & etc.) to attract a peer at Stony Cross Park, Lord Westcliff's estate. The location where a fair amount of peearge will venture towards the end of the season. Once becoming full aware of Mr. Hunt's presence at Stony Cross Park, Annabelle is determined to put as much distance between them as possible. Simon has also developed his own diverse plan to entrap Annabelle. Knowing full well of her money circumstances, and the fact she will eventually circum to his advances, and be a willing participant as his mistress. Of course, with no intentions of ever marrying her, just humiliating her honor. The more Annabelle despires him, the more they are drawn to each other. Simon always appears at the exact moments Annabelle is in dire need of his or any assistance. Especially from the many various scenarios hurtling in her direction. However, when a peer with an immense amount of wealth attracts Annabelle's interest, and the involvement of the wallflowers at her disposal, will she be able to turn her back on the hidden passion she's developing for Mr. Hunt? Will Simon be able to stand aside for Annabelle's happiness or fight to obtain what he desires most? This book has quickly became one of my favorites. Due to the fact, it possesses many intriguingly aspects of the "Cat & Mouse" game often played amongst future lovers. The buildup of the unforeseen passionate emotions, that becomes explosive once fully discovered; and indulging in my own chess game or escapades in the linen closet with my lover, is much to be desired for as well. A galvanizing, mind-blowing introduction to the Wallflower Series. Once again another SIZZLING, ENTCINGLY written novel, well done Lisa Kleypas.
Loves2ReadKR More than 1 year ago
I was really excited to read this book. I have recently "discovered" Lisa KLeypas and her books and have been collecting as many of them as I can get my hands on (I'm doing really well, being as I have almost almost all of her books now). I had extremely high hopes for this book. It was good, but perhaps my expectations were just a bit too high. I thought the plot was really intriguing (come on, the idea of four wallflowers bading together to find husbands :) ). I thought that Simon Hunt was a great hero. He is quite charming. Annabelle is headstrong and knows what she wants. However, there were definitely points where I found myself frustrated with her and the other Wallflowers' scheming. I laughed and found myself unable to put the book down at times, while at others I was a bit frustrated. In the end, I found the story extremely moving and charming. You can understand both characters and where they are coming from emotionally. While this book is clearly meant to set readers up for Lillian's book, I found myself a bit frustrated by her. I am actually really looking forward to Daisy's story, as she is quite different from the other three headstrong ladies. This is a strong book to launch the series, but not my favorite book by Kleypas so far. I do recommend it though, for there are some truly brilliant moments.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read the Wallflowers Series all out of order, so this was the last one I got to and it turned out to be my favorite, although Lillian's story (#2) is a close second. Everything you'd expect from Lisa Kleypas - perfect for a rainy Saturday.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It was fun and entertaining. I loved Anabelle's character and the wallflowers relationship and loyalty to eachother. I also loved Simon's determination not to let Anabelle push him away. He continued to pursue her after years of trying, I loved the fact that he was finally able to win her and spoil her, yet not loosing himself. I also liked that it consentrated mostly on the story, not on the sex scenes. It had alittle of everything! drama, laughter, excitement and I most of all friendship. I couln't wait to read about the other Wallflowers.
Anonymous 6 days ago
Anonymous 7 days ago
I read this based on a recommendation. I love this time period, along with romance and a bit of mystery. This book is mostly about annabelle, the first of 4 (well, five) stories about the Wallflowers. She is the oldest and the "most English" of the four. Simon Hunt is a rich businessman in a time where "blood" means more than money, although nobody will have Annabelle due to her being poor. Honestly, this is my favorite because it is the longest, with more character development and storyline. The romantic scenes do get steamy and I am glad their relationship goes beyond their marriage. Unfortunately, the rest of the series gets shorter and shorter with each wallflower to the point of Daisy's (and Hannah's, if you include her) story being rushed. Along with that, the romantic scenes feel like a copy and paste from each subsequent book (which is why I like Annabelle the most because you see everything with her first). The sweet talking from the men is all the same, which gets boring by the third book. At least, each girl has a unique "trial" that complicates the plot a little.
Anonymous 14 days ago
$7.99 for a book thats been on my bookshelf for 10 years? Come on, B and N. Reprints shouldnt cost as much as new books!
kimberlyfaye 10 months ago
As I mentioned in my review yesterday for Again the Magic, I have quickly become a historical romance AND Lisa Kleypas addict. I can't even tell you just how much I'm enjoying her Wallflowers series (which, just in case you're curious, I'm currently on the fourth book) but I'm going to try. While I loved the way Again the Magic kicked off, in a way, the Wallflowers series, the real magic was to be found in this second book, when these four ladies make each others acquaintance and form their plan. I love swooning over sexy men in books as much as the next reader, but I get just as much pleasure from strong female characters. Annabelle, Lillian, Evie and Daisy are all just that. I loved the friendship they forged when they could've easily been considered competition. Their banter was brilliant. Each of them had their quirks, but together they made a fantastic team. There was no "girlfriends behaving badly" here either. These ladies had a GREAT, strong friendship and I really enjoyed watching it happen. The romance, of course, was all kinds of swoony and fantastic because what else would you expect from Lisa's books? Annabelle, as the oldest, is the first to find her match. It was an unlikely one at that. Annabelle was looking for love with a peer but found it instead with the self-made butcher's son, Simon. Annabelle had the tendency to be (more than) a little snobby, but I didn't mind much because I understood where she was coming from. Simon was wonderful. I'm a big fan of when a man relentlessly (and in a non-creepy) way pursues a woman once he's interested. I was rooting for them so hard. This book, and the series so far, is just fantastic. I'm completely enthralled with the characters, romance and overall story. It's sexy, swoony and has its fair share of humor and feels. I can't ask for anything more. If you're new to historical romance like me, this series is a fantastic place to start. But, be warned, you will likely decide to chuck your entire reading list aside and binge on these. I am. :) #noregrets
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to finish this. I absolutely LOVED Lillian and am so excited to read her book next. She had me laughing chapter after chapter. I love the books about wallflowers instead of the most sought after debutante. I can't wait to continue!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Always a pleasure, I plan to reread.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
excellent book
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