Wed
Feb 15 2017 12:00pm

Reading Lisa Kleypas’ Wallflowers: Appreciating the Final Wallflower in Scandal in Spring

In a delightful journey that began with Secrets of a Summer Night in 2004, we accompanied the Wallflowers—young society misses Annabelle, Lillian, Evangeline, and Daisy—as they banded together in a hunt for husbands that led to love and matrimony...if not always in that order.

But if we thought we’d seen the last of our beloved friends, we were (happily) wrong: Lisa Kleypas has announced the Wallflowers will return in her next historical romance, Devil in Spring with the story of Evangeline and Sebastian’s son!

In anticipation of Devil in Spring’s release on February 21, we’ve decided to do what any romance reader would: Revisit the books that started it all! And so, every week for the next four weeks, we invite you to join us in reading—whether for the first time or the fiftieth!—and discussing the first four Wallflower romances: Secrets of a Summer NightIt Happened One Autumn, Devil in Winterand Scandal in Spring.

Scandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas

The date Scandal in Spring came out, in 2006, I distinctly remember storming through three different Barnes & Nobles in my hometown area (before e-readers), because the previous two stores I had visited did not have the book available on the day it was released. Talk about a panic attack. When I finally flew home, ready to savor my copy, I remember the split-second thought of, “This is it! This is the last book in the Wallflower series. How is this going to end? All my characters that I just spent the last year with, obsessing over each romance…”

And with the reread, truly my heart went out to Daisy. Dating was rough for Daisy Bowman. Yeah, she had that hot Gypsy kiss, but she’s still single, and now her soap tycoon father is convinced that she cannot find a suitable match in England. To add insult to injury, he’s ready to arrange her marriage, and he knows just the bachelor; his own butt-kissing protégé from the United States, Matthew Swift. Daisy could not be any more turned off. She recalls Matthew as a gangly awkward kiss-up who doted on her father’s every business advice. But, of course, Daisy ends up surprised when she meets the handsome, mature, and charming Matthew Swift. Luckily, she has her friends there to support her. I’m not sure she could have had her story without the support of the Wallflowers. Sure, Lillian was an overbearing older sister at some points, but Matthew is successfully vetted through all their judgements and evaluations.

Where I feel Scandal in Spring stands apart from the other themes of comradery in the Wallflower series, is that Daisy is sort of the last gal standing (or sitting as a Wallflower). Her friends are not obligated to spend time with her or help her out in any way– but they’re AWESOME friends, and they do! Revisiting this one, almost a decade later, made me more sympathetic to her position; Daisy is the last wallflower to see her entire support network fall to other partnerships. Everyone around her becomes coupled off. Even stammering Evie can find love and joy with (arguably) one of the genre’s most reformed Heroes. We see Daisy question her own expectations for an ideal marriage, in the middle of facing risk, frustration, and scandal, while being surrounded by her closest friends saying, “My marriage is wonderful!” ACK! And yet she remains strong, hoping and wishing for the same HEA. On top of this, it makes me see how much Daisy confides in her friends, especially how she confides in Evie, outpouring her feelings that she really does want to be with Matthew, but perhaps she is too afraid if it eventually means moving away from England and her family. We see each of the wallflower ladies, in smaller scenes throughout the novel, counsel Daisy and guide her. And even after all that worry, and a scandalous surprise plot twist… we see where it helps to have compassionate (and influential) friends like those in the Wallflowers circle. Even when the three coupled wallflower ladies privately discuss their worry for Daisy’s situation, we see the fortitude from their bond:

Lillian fretted, ‘I’m all for Daisy having the freedom of choice, as long as she doesn’t make the wrong one.”

“Dear—” Annabelle began in a careful attempt to correct the flaw in her logic, but Evie interrupted softly.

“I th-think it’s Daisy’s right to make a mistake. All we can do is give her our help if she asks for it.”

“We can’t help her if she ends up in bloody New York!” Lillian retorted.

Evie and Annabelle didn’t argue with her after that, tacitly agreeing there were some problems that mere words couldn’t solve, and some fears that couldn’t be soothed. They did what friends do when all else has failed… they stay with her in the companionable silence… and let her know they cared.

Favorite Line:

It’s not so much as a favorite line, but more of the scene that goes with the line – Annabelle, from Secrets of a Summer Night, is trying to soothe her teething baby girl, when Matthew (who just meets all the Wallflowers for the first time) assists with a makeshift ice-hanky, and the ladies notice that his whispers lulled the baby to sleep:

“Oh, Mr. Swift,” Annabelle said gratefully, taking the baby back in her arms, “how clever of you! Thank you.”

“What were you saying to her?” Lillian demanded.

He glanced at her and replied blandly, “I thought I would distract her long enough for the ice to numb her gums. So I gave her a detailed explanation of the Buttonwood agreement of 1792.”

Even when he is soothing babies, he is all business savvy. No one has ever made New York Stock Exchange history so sexy.

Swoonworthiest Scene:

That first kiss that really catches the heroine (and the reader!) off-guard:

“The way you phrased yourself earlier… you didn’t say you won’t marry me under any circumstances… you said you can’t. Why?”

“Since it’s not going to happen,” he said, “the reasons are irrelevant.”

Daisy frowned, her lips pursing in a way that made him long to kiss them.

He moved aside to let her go.

Obeying the silent signal, Daisy began to brush by him.

But as Daisy’s arm bumped against his, Matthew caught her wrist in his fingers, and suddenly she was in his arms again. He couldn’t stop himself from taking her mouth with his, kissing her as if she belonged to him as if he were inside her.

This is what I feel for you, he told her with fierce, consuming kisses. This is what I want.

Angstiest Scene:

Lillian is going into labor, and Matthew waits with Daisy in another room. She keeps asking for the time, and then curiously asks about all the jangling in his pocket. We see just how far back Matthew’s love for Daisy really reaches:

Swift blanched and reached for it, but Daisy snatched it back, her fingers closing around the button.

Daisy’s pulse began to race. “I’ve seen this before,” she said… [the button contains a lock of her hair from when she was small girl]

Still not looking at her, Swift reached for the discarded contents of his pocket and methodically replaced them.

As the silence drew out, Daisy waited in vain for an explanation. Finally she reached out and hold of his sleeve. His arm stilled, and he stared at her fingers on his coat fabric.

“How did you get it?” she whispered.

Swift waited so long that she thought he might not answer. Finally he spoke with a quiet surliness that wrenched her heart. [He explains that her father, in a temper, accidentally stained the coat and ordered Swift to throw it away.]

“But you kept one button.” Her lungs expanded until her chest felt tight on the inside and her heartbeat was frantic. “… mine. Have you… have you carried a lock of my hair all these years?” …

Swift didn’t move or speak, just waited with unyielding patience until Daisy opened her fingers and let the button drop into his palm. He pocketed the object like a possessive magpie and released her.

MVP of the book:

In a suspenseful chapter, near the end, Matthew almost drowns. I had to reassure myself that I’ve read this one before, and I know there is a HEA. Luckily, he returns to Daisy!

“I thought you were gone,” Daisy said, her voice cracking. “I thought I would never see you again.”

“No, no…” Matthew smoothed her hair and kissed her cheeks, her eyes, her trembling lips. “I’ll always come back to you. I’m dependable, remember?”

Dependable, Savvy, and passionate! – Hooray!

As we all wait impatiently for Devil in Spring–let’s discuss:

  • When helping a lovelorn friend or a friend going through a romantic struggle — What’s your wallflower support style? Tough and sometimes overbearing (Lillian) vs. a softer and careful approach (Evie and Annabelle)?
  • Keeping mementos (such as the button-with-a-lock-of-hair scene): creepy or romantic? (I vote incredibly romantic and tear-jerking, however, some other romance reading friends of mine would disagree and view this as overly-obsessive…)
  • Have you read Mala’s great post about the Power of Female Friendship?

Learn more about or order a copy of Scandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas, available now: 

Buy at Amazon

Buy at B&N

Buy at iTunes

Buy at IndieBound

Buy at Kobo

 

 

 


And if you want to read ahead in Lisa Kleypas' Wallflower Series, here are the novels in order:

Secrets of a Summer Night (Wallflowers #1)
It Happened One Autumn (Wallflowers #2)
The Devil in Winter (Wallflowers #3)
Scandal in Spring (Wallflowers #)


H&H Editor Picks:

The Importance of Female Friendship in Secrets of a Summer Night

The Layered Storytelling of It Happened One Autumn

Friendship Can Transform Even the Biggest Villain in Devil in Winter

 

 

 

 

 


Jena Briars is a California girl living in D.C., feeding her brain one romance novel at a time...When she’s not busy at work, or being distracted (sometimes ambushed) by her cat, she reviews romances on her website Throughout the Pages.

 

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3 comments
Jennifer Proffitt
1. JenniferProffitt
I loved this reread. It reminded me so much of why I loved Kleypas and this series. It was the perfect conclusion!

As for your questions:
-My support style is definitely down the middle of those two: I tend to be like "well here's the solution and here's a hug that will last forever if you need it, and now you're good, right"

-Definitely romantic! My roommate makes fun of me for keeping cards and small gifts for so long, so I definitely am a keeper of mementos!
Heather Waters
2. HeatherWaters
I loooove romances where unrequited love becomes requited, because watching them pine is the sweetest torture. Matthew loving Daisy from afar is my kryptonite in this book, and your pick for angstiest scene is making me want to go reread the book right this moment.
Jena Briars
3. CutMyTeethOnKleypas
@HeatherWaters - I KNOW - it almost hurts my heart! If you need a QUICK reread - the scene starts on page 187 of the first edition copy. Not sure which page in the reprint.

@JenniferProffitt - I don't always enjoy the Epilogues - but the Epilogue in this one PERFECTLY closes out the series! Your support style is best. I find that I'm more charging-bull, like Lillian, if I feel it's a situation that I might be able to influence - but if it feels seriously out of control - then I'll be more Evie and go into comfort/support mode. :D I need to find a balance.
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