Kleypas, Lisa. A Wallflower Christmas. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2008. ISBN-13: 978-0-312-53378-6. $16.95 USD.
This is a book that I wonder if I would have enjoyed as much if I wasn’t a massive lover of the Wallflowers series. Because while there is a romantic plotline, with Lillian and Daisy’s brother, Rafe, choosing between the woman his exacting father wants him to marry, and the woman he truly wants, there wasn’t much in the way of magic there.
For one, the first “romantic” interaction between Rafe and Hannah had me glancing to check the publication date. Even though I knew it was published post-Wallflowers, it shocked me to see the 2008 publication date, as the scene is nothing short of predatory, with him forcefully kissing her. Add to that his statement soon after, and it cast a dark shadow over their subsequent fall into love: “This is how we court girls in America. We grab them and kiss them. And if they don’t like it, we do it again, harder and longer, until they surrender.” (35) But at the same time, while I did not find this scene or couple interesting, I can’t lay too much fault with Kleypas, given that, earlier this year, she gave an interview, in which she reflected on how the romance genre has evolved, and how it has affected the way she depicts consent in her books, especially in more recent years.
And despite the disappointment in terms of new romances, seeing the Wallflower couples again, and how much they love each other and complement each other, is the real treat of the book. Seeing that “happily ever after” doesn’t mean a couple’s marriage is without bumps in the road (as is the case with Lillian and Westcliff), as well as seeing the pure joy of Evie and St. Vincent becoming parents (an event that was elaborated on further in one of my favorite books this year, Devil in Spring), it is a joy to spend more time with these characters, and has me begging Ms. Kleypas for more.