Second book from Kleypas's Wallflower series. Lillian Bowman is a young American woman from a rich family in search of a husband in the English peerage. She's sharp-tongued, strongly opinionated, brass and stubborn-headed. She's definitely no wilting flower. From the very first book her and Lord Westcliff kept coming to blows, snapping and arguing with each other and showing supreme dislike towards each other. But obviously there is something more there underneath it all. The book picks up from there when Lillian returns to Stony Cross Park for another season.
I will admit I was not fond of Lillian from the first Wallflower book I read, which actually was Devil in Winter (3rd book in the series). She came off extremely bossy and overbearing when it came to her friends. I almost felt she came off patronizing. I didn't know what to make of her in Secrets of a Summer Night. I found myself getting more and more agitated with her bossy tempermental personality when she pretty much forced and encouraged Annabelle (even though she agreed to go along with it) into trapping an innocent man into marriage and thinking nothing of it. I mean as a friend that's not the best advice you want to give to a young woman, no matter how much YOU think it's a 'brilliant' idea. And her blowing up at Annabelle after wards and not even apologizing for it just turned me off. Her behavior was really childish. I know to many that's part of her outspoken personality but to me it just comes off immature. This is one of the problems I have with her through out the series, whenever she doesn't get her way she throws a fit, a full out tantrum and storms off like a five year old. How is that endearing?
Anyways, so of course I was really hesitant to read this one. In the beginning of this book I found myself once again incredibly annoyed with her. I also thought the set up in the first chapter was a bit weird it threw me off. Kleypas kept describing Lillian and her younger sister as 'girls' and with antics they pulled off, it just felt misplaced it didn't seem age appropriate. For young woman who are in their marriagable years, the pranks they pulled felt more like something 12 year-olds would do instead of twenty-something year old women. They both came off incredibly immature and childish but I did admire their free spirit just don't think the set-up fit the timeline. For a second I thought it was flashback or prologue of sorts to when they were younger but it wasn't.
Aside from that, the book overall was really great. The issues I had were mainly with Lillian, I just could not relate to her and kept getting incredibly annoyed by her the more I read. I understand Kleypas wanted to reinforce Lillian's free-spirit and stubborn-headed independence and fierce pride but I think she tended to go a bit too far. I found myself not liking her personality very much because of it. There were points in this book that I felt really sorry for Marcus who had to put up with it. I thought he was a saint for dealing with it. Some of the stunts Lillian pulled were too much and made her come off so foolish and immature. That horse riding-course scene in particular. I wouldn't have blamed Marcus for wanting to throttle her with her cavalier attitude and brass temper. I have nothing against a sassy strong-willed heroine but I felt here it was a bit too much at times, overkill if you will. It's safe to say she's my least favorite of all the four wallflower girls. I just could not find it endearing when she went out of her way to prove others wrong or just for being told 'no' and how she was quick to judge Marcus. That above all else drove me nuts. She kept thinking he was snobbish and overbearing, trying to overpower her when I saw nothing of it. She has the constant tendency to jump to the wrong conclusions (as seen in the books that follow this) about men in general and refuses to think any differently. I really loved how she slowly realized how wrong she was about him.
I thought Marcus Westcliff was a complete gentlemen in this compared to other hero's he was a saint. I adored him! He comes in close second to St. Vincent as my fav heros in this series. He had a really difficult upbringing and very sad childhood so I completely understood where he was coming from. I can't even say he was much of an 'arrogant ass' in this like the ladies kept referring to him. I didn't see him that way. Not once. Yeah he is very stubborn and private and prideful man but he had the most gentle, tender and quiet charm I've seen in a hero. I couldn't understand Lillian's reservations over marrying him. Well conflicting personalities part I could understand but the rest not really. He gave her no reason to doubt him. I thought he was a saint and brave soul to take on Lillian. I sometimes felt he was too good for her with the way she acted. That being said, the push and pull between them is magnetic and addictive. The intimate moments between them are so poignant and intense that I couldn't stop reading. This was close to being a 5 star book for me if it wasn't for the issues I had with the heroine in this. While Lillian is not my favorite heroine the book was very enjoyable. The plot is very dynamic and engaging and the way Marcus and Lillian come together and grow close is amazing and very beautiful. Very fun fulfilling read.