07 October, 2015

It Happened One Autumn: #BookReview

Publisher: Avon
Original Release Date: September 27, 2005
Series: The Wallflowers, Book 2
Pages: 391 pages
Language: English
Genre: Regency Romance
Sexual Content: 3/5


Headstrong American heiress Lillian Bowman has come to England to find an aristocratic husband. Unfortunately, no man is strong enough to tame the stubborn beauty's fierce will. Except, perhaps, the powerful and arrogant Earl of Westcliff—a man Lillian despises more than anyone she's ever met.
Marcus, Lord Westcliff, is famous for his icy English reserve and his supreme self-control. But something about the audacious Lillian drives him mad. Whenever they're in the same room, they can't stop themselves from battling furiously to gain the upper hand.
Then one afternoon, a stunningly sensuous encounter changes everything . . . and Lillian discovers that beneath the earl's reserved fa├žade, he is the passionate and tender lover of her dreams.
What neither Westcliff nor Lillian suspect, however, is that a sinister conspiracy threatens to destroy any chance of happiness. After a shocking betrayal endangers Lillian's safety—and possibly her life—will Marcus be able to save her before it's too late?


Review first and commentary after.

I didn't adore this story as much as I did some of her other works, but what I liked most about It Happened One Autumn is that Diva Kleypas managed, again, to turn my head around about a guy as unlikely and uninvolved as Lord Marcus Marsden, Earl of Westcliff.

The Earl showed himself in two prior stories, Again the Magic, about his oldest sister, Aline, and her rocky romance with an American servant, and also the story of Olivia, the Earl's youngest sister, and her romance with another American, Gideon Shaw.

Marcus's presence is heard and felt in this first novel, setting the groundwork for his personality and lack of emotion. Marcus is their bodyguard; their knight, and their voice, but he is also mechanical, somewhat lifeless, and simply going through the motions while working effortlessly to maintain self-control and come off as nothing less than mechanical and lifeless.

And then again in book 1 of the Wallflower Series, Secrets of a Summer Night: the story of Lady Annabelle and Simon Hunt, who happens to be a good, close friend of the Earl. They do a lot of business together, so Marcus pops up now and again to ruffle feathers and make his opinion known, giving us yet more information and perspective about the man.

He becomes more lifelike and even like-able by the end of this second novel appearance.

Secrets... is also where our stodgy Earl bumps into Lillian for the first time, and the mismatched sparks fly from the get-go.

So, if you haven't read either of these previous novels before reading It Happened One Autumn, then it isn't entirely likely that you will fully understand why it is that Marcus and Lillian aren't particularly fond of one another.

(jab one at the reviewers comments)

If so, then it isn't as if we had no idea of who he was or why he behaved the way he did once his story is finally told in this third novel about his romance.

It stands to reason, then, that by reading It Happened One Autumn afterwards, finding Marcus to be surly and brash toward Lillian should make perfect sense.

(jab two at the reviewers comments)

In all honesty, I never thought of Marcus as being anything other than what he was meant to be: the eldest in a long, illustrious line of Earls who is viscously groomed to become the head of the household.

Until one day the love bug bites and then things start to change.

What the hell else would it take for a romance to blossom in an exciting and unexpected fashion if he wasn't the oddball character with numerous flaws who needs a bit of polish and warmth for him to overcome his past?

He wasn't as cold or mean as some painted him to be, either.

(jab three)

I was actually a bit surprised by his calm and well-behaved mannerisms around Lillian, but it also came as no surprise whatsoever that it was due to his having already been smitten in Secrets of a Summer Night.

It was in Secrets... that the Earl began his side of the love story, which makes It Happened One Autumn more about Lillian and her side.

Marcus went from being a 'not so handsome' man with a stuffy pretense to this enticing god with an amazing body and outstanding bedside manner.

I think this is meant to make us believe that, with time, anything is possible, including our vision being askew one minute and then clearly focused the next.

While I enjoyed this story and loved the fact that the author was capable of making me see a new and exciting side of a man I didn't quite care for earlier, this was not my favorite Kleypas novel, and I'm still not as hooked on the Wallflower Series as I am with other series in her domain.

I would recommend you first read Again the Magic, and then read Secrets of a Summer Night before delving into It Happened One Autumn, and only to save yourself the trouble of trying to figure out why it is that Marcus and Lillian don't get along so well yet remain attracted to one another despite it all.


Now, about that so-called 'rape' instance.

Yes, I was a little startled to read that our do-right Earl, knowing it was the wrong thing and even telling himself that he wasn't the type of man to take advantage of an inebriated female, ended up doing the nasty anyhow.

The angry cried foul and railed against the author for that scene, but why?

It wasn't rape by any means, and despite Lillian's being tipsy, the two of them were madly in lust and unable to keep their hands off one another even before that scene.

He tried and failed, but at no point in the scene had Lillian argued, struggled, or insisted that he leave her alone.

It just wasn't rape, wrong, or even outrageous.

Of course I don't condone rape, and I also don't condone forcing writers to be PC when they aren't or expecting authors to write entirely too realistically about fantasy and fiction and romance.

Being made to be overly careful about every instance in a novel is like asking every author alive and published to mind their P's and Q's so as not to offend a single segment of the population.

I don't care for blood and gore, so Mr. King better get his act together and start writing about things that interest me, or I'll just keep complaining that he's destroying the minds of impressionable young men.

Why lambaste an author for writing something that doesn't jive with the supposed moral values or a brainwashed view of reality?

And, it is FICTION for gosh sake!

Even if it does 'touch upon' certain life-like aspects of reality, it shouldn't be viewed as a blueprint for the reader's real life. That is just as scary as some of Mr. King's novels, if you ask me.

They are just fiction and meant for entertainment purposes only -- not as a life road map for readers to live by in reality.

Most people read to escape reality, not wallow in it and make comparisons between the novel and their own life.

It is just silly and unrealistic to think that way.

Unless you truly believe that video games and movies are somehow solely responsible for the bad actions of a few and, therefore, distasteful occurrences in a novel are just as dangerous to ones soul.

Lillian didn't cry NO.

Lillian, by the way, wasn't exactly screaming bloody murder while being dragged by her hair to his bedroom, thrown to the floor, and violently attacked.

(and, even if it had occurred that way, so what! Just because it is wrong and distasteful DOESN'T mean it can't and never should occur in a writer's mind for the purpose of their novel, and especially not out of fear that it may offend someone.)

Lillian, by the way, had said to herself that she wasn't as drunk as she was letting on.

Lillian, as it turns out, seduced the Earl and THAT is why he lost control.

Lillian giggled afterwards.

Big deal.

She was in love and he was still trying to fight it, and because she knew that, she made it extremely difficult for the stodgy Earl to do the right thing, which made the scene sexy as well as realistic.

LILLIAN, by way of modern conveyance, lifted her corset in front of the vanity mirror and took a selfie that she then sent to Marcus's cell phone with a message about where he could find her; adding a few bursting heart emo's for effect.

THAT is life and also fiction that reflects reality.

If you are going to base your real life expectations on fiction-based fantasy, that is a bigger problem than having a fictional character do something a bit untoward.

Which side of reality vs fantasy realm would you rather read about?

Your comments, thoughts, suggestions, issues, and insight are always welcome. Please feel free to reply to any of my posts.

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