Genres: Adult, Regency Romance, Romance
Series: Girl Meets Duke #3
Source: My shelves
To an undaunted wallflower, he's just the beast next door.
Wealthy and ruthless, Gabriel Duke clawed his way from the lowliest slums to the pinnacle of high society—and now he wants to get even.
Loyal and passionate, Lady Penelope Campion never met a lost or wounded creature she wouldn’t take into her home and her heart.
When her imposing—and attractive—new neighbor demands she clear out the rescued animals, Penny sets him a challenge. She will part with her precious charges, if he can find them loving homes.
Done, Gabriel says. How hard can it be to find homes for a few kittens?
And a two-legged dog.
And a foul-mouthed parrot.
And a goat, an otter, a hedgehog . . .
Easier said than done, for a cold-blooded bastard who wouldn’t know a loving home from a workhouse. Soon he’s covered in cat hair, knee-deep in adorable, and bewitched by a shyly pretty spinster who defies his every attempt to resist. Now she’s set her mind and heart on saving him.
Not if he ruins her first.
This book was seriously so freaking cute!! Regency romance by Tessa Dare, so, of course, I was expecting it, but oooooh I’m left in a puddle of grins at this book!
The Wallflower Wager is the third book in the Girl Meets Duke series (but I read it as a standalone and was completely fine!) and it follows a friend of the other main characters in the series, spinster Lady Penelope. She lives alone…. well, not quite. She’s got a goat, a steer, an otter, a hedgehog, 13 cats, a parrot, a couple of dogs and chickens… and a *few* more. She’s sweet as can be, and can’t help but rescue and love any lost soul that comes her way.
One night, the parrot escapes (*gasp!*) and she seems him fly into the bedroom of the house next door. It’s been empty for a while, so she creeps in to find the bird and return home. Only the new owner walks in on her in his bedroom, and to say he’s not pleased is an understatement. And that’s before he found out about the veritable menagerie that lives next door in Lady Penelope’s house. But the only way she agrees to get rid of them is if he finds them all loving homes. He promises to do so and thinks that will be that.
Every time I speak three words, you look as though you’re going to swoon into my arms.”
“I do not,” Penny objected, knowing very well that she probably did.
“You sigh like a fool, blush like a beet. Your eyes are the worst of it. They turn into these . . . these pools. Glassy blue pools with man-eating sharks beneath the surface.”
“I hope you’re not planning a career in poetry.”
“For the good of us both, you have to cease gazing at me.”
If only it were as easy as he thought! Broody and tortured, but gentle, Gabriel is like catnip to Penny, who can’t help but try to love him – it’s in her nature, after all. He’s intense, but his intensity hides a vulnerability and boyish charm that had me melting. He’s so sweet! They had Tessa Dare’s signature blend of banter and shenanigans that left many a goofy smile on my face. I read this in one sitting, completely hooked by this forced-proximity romance between neighbors, engaged in a deal that won’t let either of them forget their attraction to the other.
Admittedly, this romance does require a bit of a suspension of reality. However, I had so much fun with the rambunctious secondary characters who cared so much for Penny, that all I didn’t care about any unconscious critiques. I had too much fun! I want more of this friend group! Although there were flaws, including the fact that it’s not exactly fully realistic, I had so much fun reading this, I couldn’t give a crap! It was a whimsical romance full of heart, and it completely swept me away in its dreamy nature, and dammit, I had an excellent time!
Part of the reason this cozy read was so engaging was, admittedly, the animals! They were full of such wild, mischievous glee and brought this story to life… and often assisted (or were the cause of) Penny and Gabriel’s many shenanigans. Penny had so much capacity for love, and I was so, so grateful to Gabriel for bringing her back to herself and reminding her that she is a strong woman, who can be a wallflower if she wants but shouldn’t feel like she has to be. And Penny… was just as dorky and adorable as Gabriel was intense and lovable, and I absolutely could not get enough of it. Frankly, I’m sad it’s over ✨
Other Regency romances you may enjoy…
Do you like Tessa Dare books? What’s your favorite regency romance? Let me know down in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!