Daisy Bowman is the last of the Wallflowers to find a husband. Tired of paying for extravagant gowns and parties in an attempt to make a match for her, Daisy's father gives her an ultimatum: Find a husband within two months or marry the man of his choosing, Matthew Swift. Daisy's relationship with her father has always been strained, and she remembers Matthew as nothing more than a carbon copy of her ambitious businessman sire who never had time for his children. Daisy would rather marry anyone other than her father's choice, but may find Matthew to be an unexpected surprise.
Matthew Swift has been a right-hand man to Daisy's father for years. He's a hard-working, intelligent young man who knows the business inside out. Matthew has been in love with Daisy from the moment they met seven years earlier, but he harbors a dark secret which could ruin the life he has worked so hard to build. When Matthew is called to England, he assumes it is strictly business, only to discover that there is more to the trip than meets the eye. He can barely stand to be in the same room with Daisy without wanting to sweep her into his arms and make passionate love to her. To marry Daisy would be a dream come true, but Matthew simply cannot make her his wife with the sordid secrets of the past still hanging over his head.
Until now, the Wallflower series has been pretty good but not 100% satisfying for me like it has been for so many other readers. Based on the ratings I've seen at various book-related sites and the fact that I rarely see it mentioned as a fan favorite, it would seem that Scandal in Spring is possibly the least favorite book for most readers of the series. As such, I wasn't sure what to expect going into it, but now that I've finished it, I'm going to go against the grain again, by saying that in my opinion, it is the best book amongst the original quartet. Both the hero and the heroine were extremely likable which wasn't necessarily the case for me with the first three books. The couple had a sweet, tender relationship with plenty of deeply romantic moments. I also felt that the characterizations were more well-drawn, or at least, the characters were more relatable for me. The secondary characters were fabulous too, and there was also some decent suspense created by the wait to see what secret Matthew was keeping and what the fall-out from it might be. I suppose the ending was a tad bit rushed, but not enough to be unsatisfying. Everything just came together to create an emotional story that is definitely a keeper for me.
Although I adore Marcus (It Happened One Autumn), Matthew has at the very least, tied him, but may have nudged ahead just a bit, as my favorite hero of the series. He is probably the closest Lisa Kleypas has come to writing a beta hero, and perhaps that's why I don't see a lot of love being expressed for the character. Ms. Kleypas is known for her sexy alphas, so Matthew is something of a departure from the norm. For me, that was a good thing, because I adore betas. Matthew is also a geek. Highly intelligent and a whiz with numbers, he's a force to reckoned with in the business world. His logical nature can sometime make him seem a little cold, but underneath it all he has a very kind and sensitive heart. It was amusing how his feelings for Daisy don't quite make sense to him in the beginning, and he simply wrote them off as mere lust. Daisy and Lillian seemed to have a preconceived notion that Matthew was an uncaring, ruthless businessman who is just like their father, simply because their father likes him so much and he is so good at being his right-hand man. I could tell right from the start though that there was much more to him than meets the eye. I think it was utterly sweet that Matthew fell in love at first sight (even though he didn't recognize it as such) and had been pining for Daisy ever since. My heart just went pitter-patter when I realized how closely he had been observing her over the years, so much so that he knew every detail about her, her likes and dislikes, the difficulties she'd had with her parents and the closeness with Lillian, and most of all what a wonderful woman she was when few other people seemed to see it. I thought it was rather funny when, feeling he couldn't have have her for himself, Matthew tried to "sell" her attributes to another man in hopes of helping her find a match. Much like Marcus, Matthew is a well-spring of controlled, hidden passion which when unleashed for the woman he loves is a heady brew. He was also extremely dependable and responsible, as well as brave and determined to take the measures he did to better himself after a very rocky beginning to his life. All in all, Matthew was a very admirable, and lovable hero who was more of a gentleman than many men who were born and bred for that kind of position.
Daisy was a really sweet girl. I've liked her throughout the series and she has now edged out Evie as my favorite Wallflower heroine. I just adore her bookishness and her imagination which takes her on many an adventure in her head. She has a big heart that allows her to love all creatures great and small and find the good in everyone, even those people who have wronged her. In fact, I was quite surprised that she had such a low and prejudiced opinion of Matthew in the beginning. I'm not sure that enough background information was given for me to fully understand where those feelings came from, but I was pleased and proud of Daisy when she dispelled those notions pretty quickly as she got reacquainted with Matthew and started seeing the man underneath the somewhat buttoned up exterior. I thoroughly enjoyed how Daisy drove Matthew to the breaking point by trying to make him jealous and then neatly sealed the deal by being just a little naughty. Matthew may have been extremely self-controlled (which I also find very sexy), but by the time Daisy was done with her little scheme, he was so close to the edge of the precipice, she could have knocked him over with a feather. I also loved how Daisy trusted Matthew implicitly, never doubting him for a minute even when the truth about his past came out. She was definitely the type of woman who stood steadfastly by her man. Daisy was just a very fun and likable character that I really enjoyed reading about.
As with the other books in the series, all the Wallflowers and their husbands returned with the exception of Simon who was present in the background, but I don't remember him having any actual scenes. I couldn't have been happier to see Marcus and Lillian front and center in this one, especially Marcus. The couple experience their own blessed event while being there for Daisy and Matthew. I was keenly reminded of why I adore Marcus so much and why he is one of my favorite things about the entire series. I love how tender he was with his pregnant wife and how he was an encouragement to Daisy. Once again, he showed his magnanimity of character by intuitively recognizing that Matthew was a good man, and pledging his full support for him even before knowing his secret. Lillian, on the other hand, was being a bit irritating again. I understood her fear of "loosing" her sister if they had to be separated by thousands of miles and an ocean, but I couldn't help but be upset with her for being so unreasonable. It seemed like she didn't think Daisy was capable of making an intelligent decision on her own. Daisy had always been there for Lillian, supporting her throughout the husband-hunting, so to have Lillian truly at odds with her for the first time over Daisy's choice of a husband was rather frustrating. Lillian and Matthew did have a talk though where they both laid all their cards on the table. I love how Matthew stood up to her, and I think it was a turning point in how Lillian felt about him with her finally allowing him some grudging respect. In the end, although her turnaround was perhaps a bit abrupt, Lillian redeemed herself by standing with her sister in a united front.
There were many wonderful scenes within the pages of Scandal in Spring. The intensely competitive spirit between Matthew and Daisy in the game of lawn bowling was positively hilarious and nearly had me rolling on the floor. Matthew's reaction to the parlor games was equally funny, while the kiss he gave Daisy in library afterward was bone-meltingly hot. All of their love scenes were tender and sensuous, never allowing me to doubt for a moment that they loved each other completely, even though they didn't actually admit it until some time later. They were just absolutely perfect for each other. Even the suspense surrounding Matthew's secret was a pleasant surprise, and although it was easy to figure out part of it, there ended up being more complexity to it than I was expecting which only made him all the more sympathetic. Overall, I think that Scandal in Spring had a little more depth to the story while still embodying that trademark Wallflower humor. It was a fabulous read that I had a hard time putting down and was always excited to pick back up. It has definitely earned a spot on my keeper shelf, and now I look forward to finishing up the series with A Wallflower Christmas in a couple of months.
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