A Wallflower Christmas

Lisa Kleypas

St. Martin's Press

PROLOGUE

Once there were four young ladies who sat at the side of every ball, soiree, and party during the London season. Waiting night after night in a row of chairs, the wall- flowers eventually struck up a conversation. They realized that although they were in competition for the same group of gentlemen, there was more to be gained from being friends rather than adversaries. And even more than that, they liked one another. They decided to band together to find husbands, starting with the oldest, Annabelle, and working down to the youngest, Daisy.

Annabelle was unquestionably the most beautiful wallflower, but she was virtually penniless, which put her at the greatest disadvantage. Although most London

bachelors hoped for a wife with a pretty face, they usually settled for one with a handsome dowry.

Evie was unconventionally attractive, with flaming hair and abundant freckles. It was well- known that someday she would inherit a fortune from her father. However, her father was a common- born ex- boxer who owned a gambling club, and such a disreputable background was a difficult obstacle for a young lady to surmount. Even worse, Evie was cripplingly shy and had a stammer. Any man who tried to talk to her would later describe the encounter as an act of torture.

Lillian and Daisy were sisters from New York. Their family, the Bowmans, were astonishingly, vulgarly, almost unimaginably wealthy, having made their fortune with a soap manufacturing business. They had no good blood, no manners, and no social patrons. Lillian was a fiercely loving friend, but also strong- willed and bossy. And Daisy was a dreamer who often fretted that real life was never quite as interesting as the novels she read so voraciously.

As the wallflowers helped one another navigate the perils of London society, and consoled and supported one another through very real dangers, sorrows, and joys, they each found a husband, and no one referred to them as wallflowers anymore.

In every social season, however, there was no shortage of new wallflowers. (Then, as now, there were always girls who were overlooked and ignored by gentlemen who really should have known better.)

But then there was the Christmas when Rafe Bowman, Lillian and Daisy’s oldest brother, came to En gland. After that, life for one London wallflower would never be the same. . . .

Excerpted from A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas

Copyright 2008 by Lisa Kleypas

Published in 2008 by St. Martin's Press

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.