Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Wallflower Wager by Tessa Dare

Content Warning: Mentions of sexual abuse of a teen

Rating: ★★★ +.5 | 7 hours 8 minutes | Historical Romance | Avon | 8/13/2019
26-year-old Lady Penelope Campion has successfully avoided her season for a decade by sequestering herself in her home and committing to the care of abandoned animals. But her family has finally had enough! No one in her family thinks she can turn her social life around but it’s a wager this wallflower is ready to take. Luckily, her new neighbor, notorious businessman Gabriel Duke (heh, get it ? Duke), has an interest in helping to keep her in the London. 

We’ve reviewed quite a few of Dare's books on this blog and after binging the first two books in the Girl Meets Duke series last year I was super excited for this one. The Wallflower Wager has all of Dare’s signature Regency rom-com sensibilities and while I enjoyed listening to it something just didn’t hit the same for me. I think it was just a little too wacky for my taste?

I think part of my barrier to entry is that I am not an animal person so I was immune to all the animal shenans and cutsie-ness. The audiobook narrator Mary Jane Wells also chose a very young sounding voice for Penelope so she came off as kind of immature and infantilized for most of the book.

My media sweet spot is anything with a core friend group that gets built out ith each book. The bantering between our previous heroes was fun and they felt like they fit naturally into the narrative instead of like Easter Egg cameos. I also thought it was clever that Gabriel’s last name is Duke so he’s not a literal duke. As the world of romance writing is shifting I’m noticing many of the top historical authors are going beyond the Dukes, Earls and Marquess’ for potential hero material.

I also don’t know if this is the best way to say this, but there is a #MeToo plot that shows up in the last ⅓ of the books that I think may turn off some readers who aren’t expecting that in their romance. On the other hand, I think some might find as a type of catharsis in the way justice is dolled out

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