The Wallflower Wager: Girl Meets Duke Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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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.
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|Listening Length||7 hours and 8 minutes|
|Narrator||Mary Jane Wells|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||August 13, 2019|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #11,940 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#36 in Regency Romance
#202 in Romantic Comedy (Audible Books & Originals)
#644 in Historical Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
Reviewed in the United States on August 13, 2019
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Whilst I enjoyed the Wallflower Wager, I didn't find it had the spark its series predecessors had. Don't get me wrong, it was still a great read, but some of the sarcasm I love from this author was missing and some of the themes were done to death, particularly the 'I love her but I can't be with her because I'm not good enough and never will be' rubbish as well as Penny's sexual liberation. While I liked that she was confident in this area, it didn't quite mesh with her shy, gentle nature as all of sudden she was initiating contact with a man she'd just met as well as having sex in several public places. The latter I found really over the top, although it was pretty steamy.
There was still a good dash of humour throughout the book, especially a couple of sections with the parrot Penny adopted that had been, unbeknownst to her, from a cathouse. We get a few visits from characters from the former books, especially Ash and Chase. If you haven't read the former books, this one will do fine as a standalone but the characters do cross over. I did find a couple of bits featuring Emma and Alex somewhat hypocritical as they were lecturing Penny on her behaviour with Duke, obviously having sudden cases of amnesia and forgetting their own complicated histories with their partners. There was a lot of repetition on how large and masculine Gabe was as well as his tendency to get stubble soon after shaving that became a little repetitive but this was a minor issue. Also, it was never quite explained how he got his leg up in order to be able to start out and obtain all of his wealth since so much focus was placed on how poor and mistreated he was as a youth.
One thing I loved about this book was how the character of Duke called the aristocracy out for their shortcomings during this period. It was so refreshing to read a book that called it what it was rather than completely romanticising it - think along the lines of sheer snobbery based on a form of cast system when being born into wealth and titles is enough to define a person's worth.
The plot was predictable and be warned that there are mentions of child sexual assault. This is alluded to throughout the book so it comes as no surprise but I know some readers will want to know in advance. Also, without spoiling anything, I really disliked the story line that involved her brother in the later sections of the book. It stopped the story from being a complete feel good story like it's predecessors and the token relationship they had at the end made me cranky as her brother was a germ and I didn't like that there was an attempt to make his side of the story rosy.
It had a sweet, happily every after ending with a sweet epilogue after it. There's still one friend unmarried so even though the epilogue seemed a bit final, I'm hoping there's still one more book to come.
Penelope ‘I never met an animal I couldn’t rescue’ Campion, has a barnyard full at her house and at six and twenty has reached spinster status. She is threatened by her aunt and brother that if she can’t figure out a way to get rid of all the animals at the house and end up in the society pages, she will be hauled off to the country to live out her spinsterhood. There is no way she is going to find a home for a parrot who formally resided in a house of ill-repute.
***“Good God. That man is intolerable.”
“Yes,” Penny said. “He is.”
Alexandra sat up—no small feat, in her condition—and regarded her with concern. “Oh, Penny.”
“The way you said that. You sounded. . . dreamy.”
“I am not dreamy,” she fibbed. “Chase remarked that he was intolerable, and I agreed. If you like, I’ll add that he’s ill-mannered and beastly.”
“Precisely,” Nicola said. “That’s what worries us. He’s just the sort of man you’d be drawn to. We all know how you love a challenge.” ***
Gabriel is a self-made man who has purchased the home next door and needs Penny to reside there if he has any hope of selling it to someone looking to climb the ranks of society by living next door to an Earl’s Daughter. If he has to figure out how to place all the animals in her care and help her get out into society, then fine, it is a small price to pay. He for the life of him can’t understand how someone so beautiful and funny could possibly not be attached to a man with a brood of kids already. Gabe is great at finding undervalued things, putting a shine to them, and selling them off for more; he’s built a fortune on it and Penny is definitely undervalued.
***“There is no way in hell that your unmarried state is due to a lack of interest.”
“Please, enlighten me as to the reason.”
“That’s simple. You’ve been hiding yourself, and you’re good at it. A master of camouflage.”
She laughed. “Camouflage?”
“That’s the only possible explanation. You’ve made a frock from the same silk covering the drawing room walls, trimmed it with cat hair and feathers. Then when gentlemen visit, you stand still and blend in.” ***
Penny is completely adorable. I love all the animals in her care and how much trouble they seem to get Penny into. Then there is the attraction she is feeling toward Gabe and the way he makes her feel, maybe she can save him too.
Both Gabe and Penny have some tragedies in their past and as they get to know one another they find that in some ways they are more alike than once believed. This did get a little more serious as Penny confronted the tragedy from her past, but there was enough humor to not make it a total mood killer and I did love how she saved herself in the end, she has learned much from the Duke of Ruin.
The Wallflower Wager is the 3rd book in the Girl Meets Duke series, but like most historical romance can be read in any order. I’ve liked this the most out of all the books of this series, probably because of Penny and all the animals. It is a little rushed at the end and there were a few questions still left a little open but they were for minor things and I’m not sure anyone else would notice.
Mary Jane Wells has performed all of the books in the Girl Meets Duke series. She does a fantastic job of capturing Tessa Dare’s humor and bringing characters to life. I even think I ended up liking the previous book, The Governess Game, more due to her narrative. I listened to this at my normal 1.5x speed.
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It was just so utterly satisfying to read. It had fluff, romance, sexy times, drama and fun. I am so glad I read it and will happily read it again and again. I've never been disappointed by Tessa Dare and there was no concern that would happen here either. I loved reading Penny's story and she so deserved this book.
At the start you know little of Penny apart from her large collection of unwanted animals. From a goat to a dog with a cart due to his bag legs not working. There was an otter, a hedgehog, and a Highland steer. And let's not forget the parrot with the dirty mouth. But throughout the book you learn there is so much more to her. She is not naive and sheltered. And she doesn't need saving. She may have a soft spot for abandoned creatures but that's only as she feels a little adrift herself and needs someone to hold onto and help give her a focus and perfect. Luckily for her Gabe moves in next door and if there was ever a man in need of a little saving (and a whole lot of love) then it was him. And she needed the level of stubbornness and care he can provide too.
I love when a romance has sparks flying off the page as soon as the couple meet and we definitely have that in this book. I was also cracking up laughing throughout but especially at that first meeting. How could I not? It's that damned parrot. I adore the comedy value it added to every scene.
Look, I loved this book. It was absolutely genius and I cannot wait to read it again and again.
I could gush over Gabe for a long while, but I’m going to contain myself and say he is one man/person who sees what a gem Penny is from the get go – protective and passionate, I liked how her views and opinions where what he cared about more than those of the people around her – something he made clear to Penny and her friends/family.
The scene with Marigold, Ashbury, Chase and Gabe was so funny, and then there are the amusing scenes with Mr. Hammond and Mrs Burns the housekeeper, whom Hammond thinks may be (as the book progresses): 1) a ghost that’s taken corporeal form - something that has him more than a little uneasy; 2) a vampire - leading him to carrying around garlic, and finally; 3) a succubus - this one he says/thinks with glee.
It was lovely seeing the characters from the previous books pop up in this one. I do wish the scenes with Poppy’s brother had a bit more punch behind them, but this little niggle didn’t diminish the enjoyment the story and characters gave me.
I did a mental cheer when I realised this was finally out, and my excitement for this book turned out to be justified, I lost myself in the pages of the book – Gabriel and Penny (SIGH) I adored individually and as a couple. A rich tapestry of humour and passion mean this book will certainly be staying in my re-read pile, with the couple being more than a little memorable, that being said I do wish the book had been a little longer, so a compelling layer of depth could have been added, for example Gabriel was fab but I think the author could have given us more when it came to him.
Potential Triggers: A mother selling her child and child labour is mentioned, as is the grooming of a child.
Penny who only trust's her three friends and animals, and Gabe
Who distrust everyone except himself. This book has everything going for it, as usual in other books every character is brilliantly described and all these wonderful men and up falling for these adorable self sufficient women. The situation they get in, their personalities make you laugh, smile, feel sad for them and wish the best for them. The interaction between the men in these books and the women is brilliantly written. You can sense now they feel about each other. THERE HAS TO BE ONE MORE IN THIS SERIES. CAN'T WAIT.
I also have a great number of friends with rescued animals. "Crazy dog lady" it's not something I'm unfamiliar with. In my experience, these people are brave souls that have an unlimited capacity for love and the fact that many times they are mocked for it it's one of the injustices of life.
And to Tessa Dare infinite credit not only does she understand this for Penny, but she also gives her the hero she deserves.
Gabriel is not "won over", he does not realise that she is actually valuable, but he knows this from the start.
It's a wonderfully beautiful book and a balm for the soul.
It's also funny and hot.
I was pulled in from the beginning and couldn't stop laughing - let's just say I encountered the funniest parrot in literature.
Our heroine, Lady Penelope saves all the unwanted animals. She's in no hurry to settle down, get married and the hero, Gabriel wants to take advantage of that. That's how they strike a bargain, which doesn't necessarily goes as they wanted it to go.
It's really a book with a lot of funny scenes and hot ones too - swoony ones - and I recommend it to any historical romance lover. 4.5 stars.