The Wallflower Wager The Wallflower Wager on August 13, 2019
Pages: 368
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four-stars

They call him the Duke of Ruin.

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 was such a fun and happy book. That isn’t a surprise, since most of Tessa Dare’s books are. What did surprise me though was that there’s a bit of a dark secret that could have taken this book in a different direction, but she was able to keep the whole book light without glossing over what happened. That takes talent!

So Lady Penelope lives alone…well sort of. She lives with a lot of animals. Not just a handful of puppies, but a goat, a cow, an otter, a two-legged dog, you get the picture. Her brother has decided that if she doesn’t marry (or at least look as if she has some prospects, or show some effort to care about having prospects), then she will come live with him. She’s floored. She doesn’t want to leave, but more than that, she doesn’t want to go out to balls or parties, or get a new wardrobe, or any of the things young ladies care about. She wants to hide in her house with all her unwanted animals. But part of the deal she makes is to find homes for all the animals.

The Duke next door (okay he’s not a duke, but his last name is) Gabriel Duke has bought the house next door to her with the intention of selling it and making a profit. He knows lots of people would pay to live next to a lady. What he doesn’t know is that Lady Penelope is not an old matronly cat lady, but a young and vivacious woman with…well lots of animals. When her parrot escapes and flies into his room, she doesn’t know he’s home, and she goes in to get the bird. She’s sprawled across his bed in her nightclothes as he walks in…undressed.

He’s a good sport about the whole situation and decides he can’t have a zoo next door while he’s trying to modernize and sell the house, so he offers to help her find homes for her animals.

You guys, this book was sweet. I think sometimes we want a happy and light book and this one delivers. I loved Gabriel. I really loved him. I loved how he was with Penelope, I love how he was with her friends, and some of my favorite scenes were the ones with her friends’ husbands arguing first over who would kick his ass, then arguing over which one of them he liked better. I mean it was peak Tessa Dare. Witty, fun, flirty, happy, sweet. I think right now we could all use that.

If you want fun and light and fluffy, this book is it! The pages flew, and I smiled almost the entire book.

***ARC courtesy of the author

four-stars