I’ve had a cold and been spending a lot of time relaxing on my couch feeling sorry for myself. When I finished my last book, I thought a fun romance novel might be perfect for how I was feeling. I found The Wallflower Wager (2019) by Tessa Dare available at my library and downloaded it immediately. So, I’m not sure if it’s how I was feeling or that I just need a break from romances, but I didn’t love this one. Dare has a fun style, and I generally like her writing, but I found myself simply not caring much about the characters and their connection to each other.
Lady Penelope Campion (Penny) meets the infamous Gabriel Duke when she follows her errant parrot into his newly acquired property. Gabriel Duke is an orphan who grew up in desperate and hateful circumstances, but worked himself up to great wealth. He hates the aristocracy, and has ruined many a well-to-do family by buying up their debts and finding their weak spots. He bought the property next to Penny, planning on turning it for a profit. But Penny’s love of animals threatens his property value.
Penny has also been threatened by her brother and aunt that she must leave London and live with her brother. Penny desperately wants to stay in London, so she agrees to get rid of her animals, buy some new clothes, and start going out again. Gabriel Duke agrees to help Penny get rid of her animals. The two are immediately attracted to each other. However, Penny’s friends hate Gabe because of his reputation, and they are protective of her. Also, Gabe is fighting feelings of unworthiness from when he was a child. Penny has a secret from her past that also haunts her.
I could understand that Penny and Gabe were attracted to each other. But the obstacles thrown in their path felt a little random and unearned. First, Gabe sends Penny off in a carriage on her own and the next minute they’re planning on being married. Then she’s angry at him over something that did not seem like a big deal to me, and they stop talking to each other. I was not super impressed by their relationship. I guess Penny’s secret explained why she’d avoided much of society for so long, but it did not make for a very satisfactory ending.
Random tangent: I thought it was a very bad idea to dump thirteen or fourteen kittens off at a small orphanage. First, there were about forty kids at that school. Which kids were chosen to get kittens and which ones were left out? Also, can you imagine the smell of thirteen cats? Plus, this is in the days before spaying and neutering. The orphanage would quickly be overrun, and I felt sorry for the teachers. I think one cat to serve as house mascot would be perfect.
Although there were some fun moments, this was definitely not one of my favorites. I may be taking a little break from romances for now.
You can find all of my reviews on my blog.