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.
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.