Annabelle Peyton, determined to save her family from disaster, decides to use her beauty and wit to tempt a suitable nobleman into making an offer of marriage. But Annabelle's most intriguing - and persistent - admirer, wealthy, powerful Simon Hunt, has made it clear that while he will introduce her to irresistible pleasure he will not offer marriage. Annabelle is determined to resist his unthinkable proposition... but it is impossible in the face of such skillful seduction.
Her friends, looking to help, conspire to entice a more suitable gentleman to offer for Annabelle, for only then will she be safe from Simon - and her own longings. But on one summer night, Annabelle succumbs to Simon's passionate embrace and tempting kisses... and she discovers that love is the most dangerous game of all.
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.