Second in the Wallflower series is It Happened One Autumn. We obviously meet Lillian Bowman along with the other wallflowers in the first book, but we're also introduced to Marcus, Lord Westcliff. In Annabelle and Simon's story we meet Westcliff through Simon, as Marcus is a business associate of Simon's. So, the majority of the first novel takes place at a gathering on Westcliff's home as he hosts a number of people to come and stay for a while.
There are a pair of sisters within the wallflowers and Lillian is the older sister. The Bowmans are rich Americans who have come across the ocean to seek a titled husband for their daughters. Westcliff is one of the oldest titles in England, not to mention wealthy as well. In the first book, we've already seen Westcliff and Lillian butt heads, repeatedly. Lillian is outspoken, much more so than is considered polite for the day. She also likes to have her fun and is the most opinionated of all the wallflowers. If something's on her mind, she won't hesitate to tell you, even if it's guaranteed to piss you off. Westcliff can't get over how brash and unladylike Lillian is. Westcliff likes order. It's apparent in the way he carries himself and the burden of being the head of the family. Already, they set up for a delicious attraction of opposites.
As predicted, the characters continue to butt heads throughout the story before their attraction is really noticed between the two. The beginnings where they're just fuming at one another is a really fun read. But complications arise. When Westcliff wants to make Lillian his bride, his mother refuses to sit back and see that the old Westcliff title be sullied by the loud American girl. Westcliff's mother pulls some plot strings behind the scenes and we see the character of Sebastian, Viscount St. Vincent, take a larger role in the outcome of the story. St. Vincent is a childhood friend of Westcliff's and while they might not see eye to eye on everything as adults, the childhood bond they've forged is still important to Westcliff. While at the party, we know that St.Vincent needs a wealthy heiress to marry, and that's where Lillian comes in and the story gets complicated.
St. Vincent sniffs around Lillian in the beginning when Westcliff is still sorting through his feelings. And St. Vincent is a notorious rake. While St. Vincent is charming Lillian, we see the growing affection between Lillian and Westcliff. So when Westcliff wants to marry Lillian, his mother urges St. Vincent to kidnap Lillian into marriage. The story proceeds from there.
I must admit, It Happened One Autumn is not my favorite Wallflower book. It actually ranks the last. And it could be because I read them out of order. In fact, I know for sure it's because I read them out of order. Though looking back, even if I read them in series, I still think I would rank them the same. But the thing is that I read Sebastian's story before I read Lillian and Westcliff's. So to see Sebastian made out as the villain after I've seen him as the hero doesn't jive with my thoughts and feelings about his character. Kleypas herself noted that she wasn't looking to give Sebastian his own novel because of how deplorable he acted in It Happened One Autumn. She thought it'd be way to hard to redeem his character after what had happened.
However, there are other reasons in which I rank this book the last of the series. While I enjoyed Lillian's antics and her outspoken behavior, it didn't match with the others who really are wallflowers in the sense of the term. Especially the last two books, the girls really are shy girls. To me, Lillian belonged outside of the series where it wasn't entitled, Wallflowers. The hero/heroine don't go through the emotional wringer like the other characters do either. Even though there are really strong feelings between the two, the plot doesn't pull as much emotions as with the other Wallflowers. But to be fair, Lillian and Westcliff's relationship is wonderful because of Westcliff's journey into realizing that proper isn't always what's fun. Westcliff is very much a Darcy character. And while this book might not be my favorite, it does have very stiff competition and I can't say that it's a bad book in any sense. Besides, who can resist a character who's like Darcy, anyways?
3.5 out of 5: Not my favorite of the Wallflowers for reasons explained above, but it is a worthwhile read nonetheless. Keeper copy, time to time reread.