Thursday, December 23, 2010

Book Club: A Wallflower Christmas

Taken from Lisa Kleypas's website:

Wealthy entrepreneur Rafe Bowman has come to London to marry Lady Natalie, an aristocratic bride who will help to further his ambitions. But two things stand in his way : Lady Natalie's disapproving companion Hannah . . . and Rafe's passion for a woman he should not want and can never have . . .


They walked through the winter garden in silence, while Hannah struggled with the certainty that Rafe Bowman was even more dangerous, more wrong for Natalie, than she had originally believed. Natalie would eventually be hurt and disillusioned by a husband she could never trust.

"You are not suitable for Natalie," she heard herself say wretchedly. "The more I learn about you, the more certain I am of that fact. I wish you would leave her alone. I wish you would find some other nobleman's daughter to prey upon."

Bowman stopped with her beside the hedge. "You arrogant little baggage," he said quietly. "The prey was not of my choosing. I'm merely trying to make the best of my circumstances. And if Lady Natalie will have me, it's not your place to object."

"My affection for her gives me the right to say something"

"Maybe it's not affection. Are you certain you're not speaking out of jealousy?"

"Jealousy? Of Natalie? You're mad to suggest such a thing"

"Oh, I don't know," he said with ruthless softness. "It's possible you're tired of standing in her shadow. Watching your cousin in all her finery, being admired and sought-after while you stay at the side of the room with the dowagers and wallflowers."

Hannah sputtered in outrage, one of her fists clenching and raising as if to strike him.

Bowman caught her wrist easily, running a finger lightly over her whitened knuckles. His soft, mocking laugh scalded her ears. "Here," he said, forcibly crooking her thumb and tucking it across her fingers. "Don't ever try to hit someone with your thumb extended—you'll break it that way."

"Let go," she cried, yanking hard at her imprisoned wrist.

"You wouldn't be so angry if I hadn't struck a nerve," he taunted. "Poor Hannah, always standing in the corner, waiting for your turn. I'll tell you something you're moore than Natalie's equal, blue blood or no. You were meant for something far better than this."

"Stop it!"

"A wife for convenience and a mistress for pleasure. Isn't that how the peerage does it?"

Hannah stiffened all over, gasping, as Bowman brought her against his large, powerful form. She stopped struggling, recognizing that such efforts were useless against his strength. Her face turned from him, and she jerked as she felt his warm mouth brush the curve of her ear.

"I should make you my mistress," Bowman whispered. "Beautiful Hannah. If you were mine, I'd lay you on silk sheets and wrap you up in ropes of pearls, and feed you honey from a silver spoon. Of course, you wouldn't be able to make all your high-minded judgments if you were a fallen woman . . . but you wouldn't care. Because I would pleasure you, Hannah, every night, all night, until you forgot your own name. Until you were willing to do things that would shock you in the light of day. I would debauch you from your head down to your innocent little toes"

"Oh, I despise you," she cried, twisting helplessly against him. She had begun to feel real fear, not only from his hard grip and taunting words, but also from the shocks of heat running through her.

After this, she would never be able to face him again. Which was probably what he intended. A pleading sound came from her throat as she felt a delicately inquiring kiss in the hollow beneath her ear.

"You want me," he murmured. In a bewildering shift of mood he turned tender, letting his lips wander slowly along the side of her throat. "Admit it, Hannah, I appeal to your criminal tendencies. And you definitely bring out the worst in me." He drew his mouth over her neck, seeming to savor the swift, unsteady surges of her breathing. "Kiss me," he whispered. "Just once, and I'll let you go."

Sigh. Wow, what a scene, and it's one of many awesome and breathtaking moments in A Wallflower Christmas. What a great story! I loved how Rafe fell not for the woman intended for him but for the woman's prickly companion. My favorite scene in the book was when Rafe loses a silly wager to Hannah and has to give her something of his as a prize. He hands her a worn tin soldier he carries in his pocket. Hannah thinks nothing much of the toy trinket until Rafe's sister Lillian, one of the original Wallflowers, tells her about the significance of the toy soldier to her brother. That story, that scene, was amazing. The way Lillian let Hannah know that Rafe giving her that item was NOT a casual gesture got my heart pounding and made me so sad for what Rafe had endured as a child.

I also loved the snippets of our earlier wallflowers. Seeing them with the men they loved, living happily ever after, was so fun and added such a nice element to this Christmas story. Furthermore, I enjoyed the way Lisa brought in the historical significance of the Christmas tree and treated us to some back story of how trees in the home came into vogue. Can you imagine all the lit candles in today's dried up old trees? HELLO, fire hazard?!? Yikes!

To get the discussion started, tell me what you thought of the book, your favorite scene and share some of your favorite Christmas traditions or memories. I will be giving a $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky commenter today, so let's get the party started and let's hear it for all the Wallflowers out there! May they find their happily ever after in 2011!

For today's recipe I am sharing my late mother's Pumpkin Bread. It's not the holidays in my house without the scent of Pumpkin Bread cooking in the oven!

Barbara's Pumpkin Bread
*This recipe makes 2 loaves
3 C sugar
1 C vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 small can of pumpkin
1 C raisins (or go without if you prefer)
3 1/3 C flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. of baking powder
1 tsp. each of cinnamon, nutmeg and ground cloves

Sift dry ingredients together
Cream sugar and eggs and then add oil and pumpkin
When blended well, add dry ingredients and mix well
Bake in large, greased loaf pans at 325 degrees for 1.5 hrs

Enjoy and my best wishes for a peaceful holiday season and wonderful New Year!

28 comments:

Mary G said...

Hi Marie
For the last week I looked for this book everywhere & could not find it. I knew i wouldn't get it quick enough buying it on-line. Yesterday I was in a department store & happened to pass a book display & there it was right at my eye level! I just now finished it.

I loved the characters & the story. I don't read many historicals that aren't erotic.
This was so sweet and lovely & of course Lisa's pretty prose makes it very romantic & hot at the same time time.

My faves:
I loved the banter between Hannah & Rafe like in the scene above.
I love when Hannah reads to the children and when she gets stuck without the ladder.
I love the scene with the burned love letter that Hannah shares with Lillian. Everyone that comes in the room is told that it's a secret that now 5 people know about LOL.

My top fave:
I love the scene where he kisses and fondles her and then dares her to marry someone else.

My fave Christmas tradition was getting to open up one gift on Christmas Eve. Now that I'm married to hubby whose birthday is Christmas Eve, it's an even bigger day to celebrate.

Marie Force said...

Hey Mary,
I'm so glad you found the book in time for book club. I loved all the scenes you mentioned, especially the burned love letter and the "secret." No such thing as a secret among the Wallflowers. Such a wonderful story. I want to go back and re-read it and I am not much of a re-reader. Too many new books I want to read first!

Love your tradition. One of ours is to watch Christmas Vacation together. I think tonight is the night! We look forward to it every year and laugh like it's the first time we've ever seen it. Scariest thing is that the old my Dan gets, the more like Clark Griswold he becomes! ACK! :-)

Mary G said...

We have a few "Griswold" houses in our neighborhood & we always refer to the movie.LOL

I also loved the part where he's nervous the first time because
"It's never been an act of love for me before." Wow.

Marie Force said...

That was so sweet, wasn't it? Rafe was the perfect hero--flawed but so good underneath it all. Loved how he tweaked Hannah's buttons but was blown away by her at the same time. Loved that.

Ronlyn said...

fast and dirty comments as I'm late for a meeting (shhhh, don't tell).

I've loved all the Wallflower books and feel that this one fits right in. Really enjoy the characters and how wonderfully imperfect they are.

Fun fun.

Christmas tradition: When Scott & I got engaged I declared Christmas Eve as our family day. We could visit others on Christmas Day, but Eve is our day to be with each other, relax, open gifts (we open the wrapped gifts on Eve), have a great dinner and just really enjoy one another.

*grabbing my stuff and making a mad dash*

Mary G said...

I remembered one more part that I loved: when she sang on a dare and he thought that if she became any more adorable, endearing or delectable, something would get broken like his heart. Sigh.

Considering it's only 201 pages, I think we've quoted the whole book LOL.

Hope said...

I loved this book. I loved revisiting all the Wallflowers and seeing what they are up to. I like it when a series brings back characters and you get updates on their lives. I liked when Lillian was "sure" that her hubby had taken a mistress and that whole confrontation. I also liked the scene where Hannah was having tea with Lillian and then each Wallflower came in to the room separately and they were sworn to secrecy, that was pretty funny.

My favorite quote of the story......"I've missed you Sebastian"...."What part did you miss most?" "Your mind" she said". "I was hoping for a more depraved answer than that." "Your mind is depraved", she told him solemnly.

One of my favorite family traditions is going and looking at Christmas lights. We get hot chocolate from one of the drive thru coffee places and take our fuzzy blankets and drive around a few hours and look at lights and just be....we listen to holiday music, and chat and look. I love it.

Kara C said...

I'm afraid I can't add much to the discussion of this book, except to say 'I LOVE Kleypas books!' Found her through her contemps, but have moved on to include the entire Hathaway series. I'm still new to historicals, so I've got a lot of catching up to do. The Wallflowers are my next historical series to read, and I am really excited. Even for the sake of the club, I couldn't read this Christmas book without first reading the earlier books in the series, because, well, I just can't. ;) I am very much looking forward to meeting all these characters.

Marie Force said...

Ronlyn, get to that meeting. Don't want to get you in trouble. Love your Christmas Eve tradition. We did a lot of running around for years before we finally put our "feet" down and called an end to the running. Much more relaxing now.

Mary, the singing quote was wonderful. I loved how he fell in love with her. It was perfect.

Hope, the exchanges between Eve and Sebastian are always so fun. I want to go back and re-read all the Wallflowers now. Glad they are on my keeper shelf. Love your ride around and look at the lights tradition. Very sweet!

KK, you have great fun ahead of you. I can't wait to hear what you think of the Wallflowers. Come back and let us know!

Thanks to everyone for popping in today. I know we're all busy in PREP mode!

Jackie P said...

I loved this book but then I loved all the Wallflower and Hathaway books too.

Judy F said...

Just wanted to stop in and say hi. I don't read many historicals but I did read her latest christmas contempt and just loved it.

Merry Christmas

Crystal (cmac) said...

Okay so everyone is going to kill me... I have yet to read this book. I know Hope, Jackie and the rest of your ladies please don't end our friendship. lol I promise I will make it a point to visit Lisa in the next few months!!!

Cindy said...

I haven't read this book yet, but after reading the excerpt, I guess I'm missing out! :( How many are in the series? I guess I have some catching up to do once the holidays are over.

One of my favorite memories was falling asleep under the tree and waiting for Santa. Somehow all of the presents were there in the morning and I didn't hear a thing!

Happy Holidays!

Ronlyn said...

Cindy, this is the 5th in the series.
The Wallflower series is one of my all time favorite Historical series. So much fun.

Cindy said...

Thanks Ronlyn!! I guess I do have some catching up to do!

oklanannie said...

Hi Marie and everyone!

Lisa Kleypas is one of my very very favorite historical authors. And her WALLFLOWER series is my favorite by far. The characters are all so fun and delightful. The burned love letter and that "secret" is probably my favorite scene, along with the scene where Rafe acknowledges that his heart could be broken. The banter throughout the book is delightful. Each and every Wallflower book is wonderful and you can't help falling in love with the entire series and characters.

My favorite Christmas tradition from my early childhood has always been making the cut-out sugar cookies, icing and decorating them and this tradition continues now with my grandchildren. We make such a mess but every giggle, oooh and ahh and proudly displayed work of art is worth every minute of cleanup. On Christmas Eve, we usually do the Christmas lights carriage ride through the park, open one present & play games, then we have cut-out cookies and peppermint ice cream before fixing Santa's special goodies plate and getting everyone tucked into bed before Santa's sled hits the roof.

HO HO HO -- EVERYONE HAVE A HAPPY HOLIDAY and A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Alison said...

Hi everyone!

I loved the entire Wallflowers series! I saw this book on Lisa's website so I've had my eye on it for a while, but didn't get a chance to read it until it was recently re-released! I'm so glad it was. It was so great to check in with the Daisy, Annabelle, Lillian and Evie. Not to mention Rafe and Hannah! I must say Rafe can write one heck of a love letter!!! Lisa is one of my must buys.

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!!

krisgils33 said...

I love all types of romance novels, but those that are sweet and wholesome are so emotionally satisfying. One of my favorite things in books is really good banter in the dialogue and this one has it in spades.

Hope said...

Marie, is there a plan for next week? I couldn't remember what the next pick was.

Ronlyn said...

Kris, isn't that the truth?? You voiced my thoughts perfectly.

Hope, on the main blog page, to the right are a list of all upcoming books into Feb.

Kara C said...

So, the first book in this series is heading its way to me as we speak. Can't WAIT to start reading!

Hope said...

Kris I totally agree...

Ronlyn - DUH, if I would just read BEFORE I ask...

KK - YAY, you will love the Wallflowers, they are my favorite historical (they are my ONLY historical finished from cover to cover, but hey, whos counting lol)

Marie Force said...

Thanks to everyone for hanging out today. I know how busy you are! Everyone who came over to play will be entered into the drawing for the gift card!

Jackie, it's such a great series! I am looking forward to re-reading it! Did you read the Hathaways too?

Judy, check out the Wallflowers. They will make a historical reader out of you!

Crystal, you will LOVE the Wallflowers. Such fun stories. Every one of them!

Cindy, you have much to look forward to in the five books! Love your Christmas memory!

Anne, Lisa is one of my three auto buy authors (Nora and Robyn Carr's Virgin River books being the others). I absolutely adore every book Lisa has ever written. Your Christmas traditions sound positively magical. Enjoy the grandkids!

Alison, I am such a dork--I thought it was new this year. I can't believe it was out for two years and I never saw it. I am SUCH a fan of LK's. How could I miss it? So glad I finally got to read it. I adored it!

Kris, the Wallflowers banter is always hilarious! Love the sisterhood they have formed and the way they invited Hannah in even though Lillian, for example, is one of the highest ranking women of the ton. They don't care that Hannah has no pedigree. They care that Rafe cares for her. I LOVE that about them! They haven't forgot from whence they came.

Ohhh, KK, you will so love Annabelle and Simon. Make sure to come back and post after you finish it!

Hope, I'm glad you asked about next week: Very "chuffed" (her word) to have Sarah Mayberry joining us from down under for a pre-New Year's celebration, featuring Home for the Holidays. I LOVED this book, which contains a twist I didn't think I would like at first, but Sarah did it brilliantly. She'll be here bearing gifts! Can't wait to chat with her. She's really awesome and you gals will love her. So get reading!!!

Kara C said...

So...to be chuffed is a good thing, yes?
I just finished Hot Island Nights recently, and really liked it. Must find Home for the Holidays pronto!

Marie Force said...

KK,
Hot Island Nights was right up there at the top of my favorite books read this year list. I thought the PSD storyline was VERY well done. I loved it.

flchen1 said...

Hi, Marie! Late to the party! I loved this book--I'd read the Wallflowers quartet not too long before reading this one, and it was like catching up with old friends to see the original four make their appearances, too. This was a wonderful installment! I'm a sucker for holiday stories, so this was right up my alley anyway! Rafe is a yummy hero, and this was a very fun story!

flchen1 said...

Oh, and thanks for that yummy pumpkin bread recipe! We do choose one recipe a year and make that in quantity to share; this might be our choice next year :)

Marie Force said...

Wow, this was such a good turnout for a holiday week! Thanks to all who came to play! The winner of the Amazon gift card is.....

CRYSTAL! YAY! Contact me at marie@marieforce.com to arrange delivery.

NEXT UP, Home for the Holidays by Sarah Mayberry. See you next Thursday! Happy holidays to all of you and thanks for your support of the book club. What a fun time this is every Thursday! xoxo