Avon, $7.50, ISBN 0-06-056249-8
Historical Romance, 2005
Reading It Happened One Autumn is like eating a meal that I have eaten so many times before that I actually pay more attention to my surroundings rather than to the meal I’m eating. Sure, Lisa Kleypas is a talented writer, and that shows in how the overused and oh-so-familiar stereotypes in this story don’t particularly annoy or exasperate as much as they merely elicit mild interest in me – kinda like finding a fly in the soup. Then I just settle back into indifference because, let’s face it, just like how it’s only a stupid fly in the soup not worth creating a drama over, the story and the plot as well as the characters are too much of the same old thing to get too excited over.
Part of the author’s Wallpaper series… what, it’s actually part of The Wallflower Quartet? Let me squint at the cover again. Oops, my apologies.
Lillian Bowman is an American hoyden in London along with her sister Daisy. Her mother wants to make sure that the Bowman heiresses will capture a title or two to bestow the family some prestige but Lillian would rather run free and spurn all those silly girl stuff for more serious pursuits like wanting to help her father in the successful family soap business. Our hero Marcus Westcliff is the proper nobleman sort who starts getting dizzy because the blood is leaving his head for the south when he spots Lillian and her sister playing what could be baseball today with the stable hands while running around in their unmentionables. Those two believe that they don’t like each other but their hormones are apparently staunch believers in the concept of opposites attract.
This story ambles on a comfortable pace and delivers nothing whatsoever that can jolt me from my state of indifference as I turn the pages. Sure, Marcus and Lillian are pleasant and inoffensive characters who say and do things in an unremarkable if acceptable manner. They fall in love after going through some familiar routines that I have encountered many times before in many, many romance novels. The jarring abrupt plunge into drama towards the end can be annoying if I haven’t read so many romance novels in the past where the author would introduce some “The heroine’s in danger – SAVE HER, SAVE HER, SOMEBODY, EEEEEEK!” angle to allow the hero to charge through the door with figurative guns ablaze ready to avenge anyone who dares despoil the heroine the way he despoiled that silly chit (ahem).
Lisa Kleypas writes well, but with this book, she’s threatening to start writing in bland and most unmemorable manner probably too well. Sure, writing clean and crisp prose is a virtue, but when the tedium factors in a big way in this equation, it’s hard for me to remember anything about this book two days after I put it down. Fans of this author who don’t mind revisiting the familiar will have no problems enjoying this book, I suspect, because this one is too bland to be bad. For me, It Happened One Autumn is more like “Huh? It happened? Was I awake?”.