Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Wallflower Christmas

The Wallflowers are four young ladies in London who banded together in their wild and wickedly wonderful searches for true love. Now happily married, they join together once again to help one of the world’s most notorious rogues realize that happiness might be right under the mistletoe...

It’s Christmastime in London and Rafe Bowman has arrived from America for his arranged meeting with Natalie Blandford, the very proper and beautiful daughter of Lady and Lord Blandford. His chiseled good looks and imposing physique are sure to impress the lady-in-waiting and, if it weren’t for his shocking American ways and wild reputation, her hand would already be guaranteed. Before the courtship can begin, Rafe realizes he must learn the rules of London society. But when four former Wallflowers try their hand at matchmaking, no one knows what will happen. And winning a bride turns out to be more complicated than Rafe Bowman anticipated, especially for a man accustomed to getting anything he wants. However, Christmas works in the most unexpected ways, changing a cynic to a romantic and inspiring passion in the most timid of hearts.

A Wallflower Christmas takes a trip to Victorian London, under the mistletoe, and on a journey of the heart. With her trademark charm, sensuality, and unforgettable characters, there’s no one like Lisa Kleypas to make you believe in the magic of Christmas.

A sparkling Christmas treat for fans of the Wallflower series!

Oh my goodness, what a wonderful Christmas treat!  I loved Lisa Kleypas' Wallflower series and I was really excited when this bonus Christmas novella came out.  Big hint:  this book cannot fully be appreciated until you have first enjoyed reading the 4 book Wallflower series (see covers below for series order).  Now then, the copyright on my hardback novella says October 2008, but I know I didn't discover this book until last year, so I'm a bit boggled by that.  And unfortunately, between eye surgery recovery and work (and being the seasonal reader I am), I reluctantly had to place it on my shelf as a priority for this year's Christmas reading.  Oh, I wish I hadn't waited, but at the same time, I'm glad I did.  After reading this, I want to go back and read the entire Wallflower series all over again.

Reading this novella was truly like visiting old friends.  Shortly after Daisy's wedding from book 4, Scandal in Spring, we reunite with all four girls and their husbands.  Here, the Wallflowers take a stab at helping Lillian and Daisy's brother Rafe learn more about the girl their social-climbing parents want him to marry.  Rafe is crossing the pond from New York to meet Natalie Blandford for the first time during Christmas festivities at the Westcliff's Stoney Cross Park in Hampshire.  With the Bowman family's high hopes for a betrothal announcement at the Christmas Eve Ball, the Wallflowers get cracking on finding out more about Natalie. So what better way to learn about the girl than interview her companion?  

Hannah Appleton is an impoverished relative who the Blandfords took in to be Natalie's maid, chaperone and companion.  We learn this when Lillian invites Hannah to tea and Rafe interrupts their meeting, leaving Hannah to question his manners, reputation and his overall suitability.  Nevertheless, Natalie is intrigued enough with Hannah's report to carry on with the plan to spend Christmas with the Westcliffs where she will meet Rafe and see how things go.  

Meanwhile Rafe is chuckling in the wings... Hannah was just too easy a target.  His attitude and lack of manners were an exaggeration to gain the upper hand of the whole situation but Rafe hadn't counted on finding himself intrigued by this intelligent, pretty girl.  Natalie?  Yes, he would go along with the plan to see if they suit, but Hannah was a surprise, and a pleasant one at that.  With Christmas around the corner, Natalie doesn't hide her attraction to Rafe and he shows just as much interest in return.   Will Hannah be able to stomach the growing attraction she sees forming between Natalie and Rafe?  And will the Wallflowers come to aid the romance that's due for announcement on Christmas Eve?

I really loved this story.  It was just one of those warm, cozy Christmas reads that make you want to curl up with a blanket in front of the fire with hot cocoa and fuzzy socks.  Sure the story was a tad predictable in the grand scheme of things, but the road travelled was an excellent one.  I would have loved to have seen this as a full length novel, and a bit more meat in the epilogue would have been equally welcomed.  The epilogue was very short and sweet, and unfortunately left no doubt that this was indeed the end of the Wallflowers series.  I'm sad to see it end but the series will remain on my shelves (and Kindle) and I look forward to visiting them all again soon.

Now, lets talk about the physical book.  I mentioned that I own the hardback release of this book, and it is indeed a pretty thing.  It stands approximately 8.5 inches tall, and 5.5 inches wide, and clocks in at 216 pages.  In other words, it looks dang good on my keeper shelf.  Plus it has generous margins, easy-on-the-eye type...  The price, you say?  Let's just say that I did NOT pay the original price tag of $16.95.  Nor would I.  And if you hunt just a little, I have no doubt you can pick up the pretty hardbound copy for under $6 if you look in the bargain areas of Borders, B&N and BAM.  Even Amazon has slashed ten bucks off the price (as of the date of this review) and I've seen them with my own eyes as low as $4 at BAM.  But keep in mind too that while the hardback can be found for a steal, there is a mass market paperback that was released this season for $6.99 (full price) and, truthfully, I'm ready to trade in my hardback to get the paperback instead.  Wanna know why?  The paperback will sit neatly with my other Wallflower paperbacks on the bookshelf.  Unless the Wallflowers are being released in hardbound sometime soon - which I doubt, but would totally buy! - the hardbound novella really means little to me.  Simple, really.  I prefer to keep my favorite series books grouped together on my shelves. 

All that said and done, I highly recommend A Wallflower Christmas.  It's a quickie read you can finish in an evening or two and a fine compliment and end to the series itself.  Below are the covers for the Wallflower series which are equally wonderful.  Devil in Winter is my personal favorite!  Please read them in order for maximum enjoyment.

My rating:  9 - Loved it!

The Wallflower series in order and the Christmas novella...


2 comments:

  1. can you tell me where can download or get a free copy of this book?

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