Friday, September 5, 2014

Book Review: The Wicked Wallflower

Lady Emma Avery has accidentally announced her engagement—to the most eligible man in England. As soon as it's discovered that Emma has never actually met the infamously attractive Duke of Ashbrooke, she'll no longer be a wallflower; she'll be a laughingstock. And then Ashbrooke does something Emma never expected. He plays along with her charade.

A temporary betrothal to the irreproachable Lady Avery could be just the thing to repair Ashbrooke's tattered reputation. Seducing her is simply a bonus. And then Emma does what he never expected: she refuses his advances. It's unprecedented. Inconceivable. Quite damnably alluring.

London's Least Likely to Misbehave has aroused the curiosity—among other things—of London's most notorious rogue. Now nothing will suffice but to uncover Emma's wanton side and prove there's nothing so satisfying as two perfect strangers…being perfectly scandalous together.

Having been immersed in the Historical Romance genre for a long long time I can literally think of dozens of ways characters have landed Dukes.  So I have read a similar premise to a story before, but this was just...charming honestly.  My friend Jenn and I joke that this falls in the "Hysterical Romance" genre since it, like so many other "Historical" romances tend to just create an alternate Regency/Victorian Era, just takes its premise and goes forth with the flag fully flying.

The draw of Rodale's books for me has always been the wit and character relationships.  Aside from the romance her books almost always feature friends who do things other then the ordinary Ton stuff, family and entanglements that weave throughout.  The veteran Rodale fan will recognize several familiar faces from her "Writing Girls" books in fact!

I don't care if there's accuracy. I don't care if its fluff and is basically like eating a piece of cake (or the whole cake...).  I don't read romance for historical accuracy--I read nonfiction for that.  I don't read romance for the deep literary thoughts it can produce--I read Greek tragedies and Shakespeare for that.  I read romance because it will often make me laugh, cry, throw my hands up in disbelief and growl (sometimes in the same page).  Romance to me is about the characters and if I want them together.

So did I want Emma and Ashbrooke together? Yes. If only to get Benedict out of the picture (though really I wanted them together for more then that reason).  Its a clear case of opposites attract, but neither is particularly good at reading between the lines.  Why yes you're attracted to each other but that hardly means he'd put up with your friends' ridiculous plots.  Why yes she wants to make out with but the fact she doesn't care about "The Ashbrooke Effect" is enough to make you wonder why she wants you doesn't it?

As the first book it set up the whole scenario for the trilogy.  I liked Prudence the best, but Emma came in a close second.  I identified with them the most I think.  I found it hard to connect with Olivia (which is only mildly mitigated in her own book WALLFLOWER GONE WILD).  To me it made sense these three women would band together to be each other's moral support.  And while this felt a little over long I appreciated the fact that Ashbrooke didn't dither over his feelings.