TITLE: The Wallflower Wager
BY: Tessa Dare
SERIES: Girl Meets Duke #3 (can be read as standalone)
GENRE: Historical Romance
PUBLICATION: August 13, 2019 by Avon
RATING: 3 Blissful Pages with Lilies
I seriously don’t know how to review this book. I think this is the first ever 3-star rating I’ve given to this author and that’s a big deal because I’ve read like 9o% of her published books. My ratings were all 4 to 5 stars but sadly I can’t give this one higher than 3 stars. But please keep reading because this doesn’t mean all is gloom and doom.
When I hear or read Tessa Dare’s name, the first thing that comes to mind is her witty, funny, sassy and charming characters that I would end up loving no matter what happens to the story. That’s still true in this book. Penelope ‘Penny’ Campion is the sweetest character I’ve ever read. She always look for the best in the people around her and she has the biggest heart not only for people but especially for animals. Thus she has several animals in her house (a parrot, kittens, hedgehog etc) It won’t be a stretch to say that no reader would be able to resist her charm as a character. On the other hand, Gabriel ‘Gabe’ Duke aka The Duke of Ruin, is seemingly harsh and ruthless. He came from the lowest but now part of high society and how he get there is the reason why he’s called The Duke of Ruin. But against Penny, his spinster neighbor who is very different to what he expected her to be, he’s ended up almost charming, in my opinion.
Needless to say, I love the characters. They have such great banters (also this author’s strength) that just showed how great their chemistry is. Most scenes are also amusing and funny, thanks to the characters’ personalities and Penny’s rescued animals. Lol, Delilah the Parrot really stole the spotlight more than a few times. But aside from those, there are also few heartwarming scenes that really tugged my heart. Some of them, again, featured Penny’s rescues. I also love the scenes where the characters from the past books of the series made a cameo. I LOL’ed whenever Ash and Chase argue or compete. I miss them so much. So anyway, thanks to these characters and their interactions, I enjoyed this book IMMENSELY.
But still, I can’t give it more than three stars because my issue with this book is something I can’t ignore. It’s the plot or at least the execution. Usually, as long as I really enjoy the book, I would rate it 4.5 to 5 stars, completely ignoring the technical aspects, but not this time. Every element of this book is good; a heroine who is sweet, passionate, caring but bold and quirky with a great habit (rescuing wounded animals), a swoony hero who is broken and angsty, seemingly ruthless and at the top of his game, funny side characters including Penny’s animals, a promising premise, intriguing reveals, and great scenes (including dialogues/banters/inner monologues). I swear every part of this book is promising. They’re like the perfect ingredients for a perfect Historical Romance that’ll make me laugh, love and swoon but somehow, the plot ended up lacking. I think despite all these amazing concepts, the plot ended up not having a strong foundation.
It’s like the author had all these amazing ideas in mind but failed to connect all of them and make a stronger story. Like The Duke of Ruins, his character, even though funny and swoony, is undeniably underdeveloped. He started as the Duke of Ruins and then his life revolved on Penny and his animals. I really don’t know anything about him except why he’s called The Duke of Ruins. Even the reveal about his childhood didn’t appeal to me. Same thought on the reveal about Penny’s childhood too. SOMETHING HAPPENED to her and really, it seems like it came from nowhere. Like I said, the plot has no real strong foundation. And the last quarter of the book, right after Penny’s reveal seemed ridiculous. Suddenly, everything’s heavy and everyone’s intense. And let me just say that even though I found Penny and Gabe sweet and swoony, the romance is lacking. It’s not as well-developed as I wanted it to be.
Overall though, I still highly recommend this book because the characters are so fun to read, including the nonhuman ones. I really had a great time reading this book despite the fact that I can’t ignore its flaws.
Have you read this book? Or planning to? What do you think of it? Let’s chat.