Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction

The Wallflower Wager

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Wallflower Wager (2019) Tessa Dare

The Wallflower WagerLady Penelope Campion is all but a recluse, hiding in her family home and collecting abandoned animals.

As a person who wanted to like everyone, it hurt to know that not everyone liked her in return.

Her new neighbor is Gabriel Duke, the so-called Duke of Ruin, who has clawed his was from the gutters to wealth, by taking advantage of the foolishness of and ignorance of the titled and wealthy. He also has no time for foolishness–he just wants to make a profit on the house he bought, repaired, and is selling.

“If the sandwiches are so revolting, why are you eating more of them?”

“Because I’m hungry, and I don’t waste food. Unlike you and your friends, I never had the luxury of being choosy.”

He tore off half the sandwich with a resentful bite. As a boy on the streets, he would have begged for the scraps she threw her dog. In the workhouse, on the two days a week they were given meat, he’d sucked the gristle and marrow from every last bone.

This woman— no, this lady— could fill her dinner table until it creaked beneath the weight of roasts, joints of mutton, game fowl, lobster. Instead, she ate this. On purpose.

The thought made him viscerally, irrationally angry.

If you read the previous two books, you are familiar with Penny’s sandwiches. Her vegetarian options to meat.

“Are you asking my honest opinion?”

“But of course.”

“They’re revolting.” He swallowed with reluctance. “All of them.”

“I like them. My friends like them.”

“No, they don’t. Your friends find your sandwiches revolting, too. They just don’t want to tell you so, because they’re afraid of hurting your feelings.”

How did I feel about this story? It’s complicated. There is sexual assault of a child in this story. There are discussions of abject poverty of the time and how that affected children. Both are a hard things to deal with, so it feels as if to offset the horribleness of that, the rest of the book is at times over-the-top silly and ridiculous.

“The housekeeper? Don’t start in on that nonsense again.”

“I tell you, she’s unnatural. I don’t know if she’s a ghost, a witch, a demon, or something worse. But that woman is of the Devil.”


Startled, both Gabe and Hammond wheeled around. There stood Mrs. Burns. Even Gabe had to admit, these sudden appearances were growing unsettling.

Hammond raised his fingers in the shape of a cross. “I rebuke thee.”

It’s not that humor is bad in a story, but following something serious and deep with a light-hearted quip feels as if it weakens the importance of the serious parts.

I also had minor issues with the Big Misunderstanding and its resolution. The Big Misunderstanding felt just tacked on, as if there had to be some blow-up, when there really didn’t need to be–there was more than enough drama with The Revelations and then the arrival of her brother. Everything is Up and Down and Up and Down–it felt as if both characters needed more time to process their problems and everything that had happened.

All-in-all, it was a fun and enjoyable story, but I’m also glad I borrowed it from the library rather than paying for it, because I didn’t love it.

Publisher: Avon
Rating: 6/10


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