2006, European Historical Romance (1840s [Victorian] England)
Avon, $7.99, 384 pages, Amazon ASIN 0060562536 Part of a series
This is the final of Kleypas' Wallflower series, and while it wasn't as strong as Devil In Winter, Daisy and Matthew are an engaging couple. I enjoyed the time I spent with them.
American Daisy Bowman is the last of the “Wallflowers”, a group of four women: Daisy and her sister Lillian, and their friends Evie and Annabelle. All but Daisy have found husbands and happiness, and she despairs of finding the right man. Her overbearing father is also growing tired of spending money without any results to show for his efforts. Thomas Bowman announces to Daisy that if she cannot find a husband in the next two months, she will marry Matthew Swift, Bowman’s favorite employee and chosen successor.
Daisy is horrified by her father’s choice, as is her sister Lillian. Their father is shrewd but overbearing, and Matthew has striven to emulate their father for years. The memories she has of Matthew’s physical features leave something to be desired as well - Daisy likens him to a string bean. Matthew is due to arrive in England to help Bowman open a new branch of his soap business, and Daisy cannot bear the thought that she might be forced to marry him.
Days later at the wishing well at her sister’s home, Daisy decides to wish for a man she can love. After tossing her hairpin into the well, she is startled to see a well-built, handsome man come up the path behind her. When she realizes this glorious vision is Matthew, she is horrified. She tells him of her father’s plans, and Matthew is stunned, but for a completely different reason.
Matthew has loved Daisy for years. Even though she was merely polite to him at all the family dinners he attended, she fascinated him. Matthew never dared hope that Daisy would notice him, and even if she did, he feels his past would make it impossible for them to be together.
Their romance surprises both of them. Daisy can’t believe that she is attracted to Matthew, yet she enjoys his company. Matthew is shocked by Daisy’s attraction and desperately wants to marry her, but knows he cannot ruin her life. He's also sure that her sister Lillian will object to their relationship.
Their courtship is amusing, and compelling. Daisy is a free spirit and a dreamer, much to her father’s dismay, but Matthew recognizes her individuality and supports her and her ideas. Lillian grudgingly comes to respect that Mathew would be a good choice for Daisy.
Matthew struggles with his feelings for Daisy. He spent so many years wanting her in his life, but fearful of his past, that he makes the cliched mistake of hiding the truth when their relationship seems to be moving forward. Thankfully, the results are not typical, although the ending does jump forward somewhat, skipping over the difficulties to deliver the happy resolution.
All the characters from the series make appearances here. Their lives intertwine neatly and all have matured in their relationships and their lives together. Because this is the last book in the series, there is more closure happening than in the previous books, and as a result, Matthew and Daisy have less "screen time" - I wished for more. Even so, this is a strong read and it was nice to see Daisy finally get her man. It's a fitting end to an enjoyable series, and I shall miss the Wallflowers; they were quite entertaining.
-- Liz Zink
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