This is the first book in a new series by Lisa Kleypas about a group of four "Wallflowers" in England in the 1840's, and, quite frankly, it bodes poorly for the rest of the series. I found the story, characterization and particularly the *romance* in "Secrets of A Summer Night" to be very flat. The heroine in the book is Annabelle Peyton, an upperclass girl who has fallen on financial hard times since the death of her father. Annabelle is essentially a female fortune-hunter. She has spent four seasons in London trying to land a wealthy peer as a husband with no luck. This despite the fact that she is drop-dead beautiful, well-bred and reasonably intelligent. No one will have anything to do with her (well, anything respectable anyways) because she has no dowry.
Simon Hunt is the son of a butcher who has managed to become insanely wealthy through investing in railroads. He is also surprisingly well-educated (and, of course, virilely handsome and brawny.) He has been lusting after Annabelle for years, but for some reason wants to make her his mistress, not his wife. Our hero and heroine are thrown together at a house party given by Lord Westcliff (the brother from "Again the Magic") where Annabelle is stalking Lord Kendall, a mild-mannered member of the peerage with an interest in botany.
I like character-driven romance and this is an area where Lisa Kleypas usually excels; however, I felt that the characters of the hero and heroine in this story were never more than superficially developed. Annabelle was described by Lord Westcliff as "shallow" and "self-absorbed" at one point in the book, and, quite frankly, he is not completely wrong. She is also a snob. Simon is an okay hero, but he seems only sketched in when compared with past Lisa Kleypas heros (especially of the "self-made man" variety).
The secondary characters of the "wallflowers" are an interesting element in the book--perhaps a bit *too* interesting. The characters of Lillian Bowman (the brash American heiress) and Lord Westcliff (the staid English Earl) are obviously heading for a firey collision later in the series and, even from the sidelines, they set off alot more sparks than Annabelle and Simon ever do.
In summary, "Secrets of a Summer Night" is a readable bit of fluff--not memorable and not up to LK's usual standards. For those who read historical romantic fiction only occasionally, I would definitely recommend skipping this one and trying "Dreaming of You" or "Lady Sophia's Lover", also by Lisa Kleypas.