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The Wallflower Wager: Girl Meets Duke Mass Market Paperback – August 13, 2019
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“Dare outdoes herself with the scintillating third Girl Meets Duke Regency romance This riveting romance may be Dare’s best yet.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“RITA Award–winning Dare’s flair for ingeniously inventive and wonderfully whimsical story lines is on full display in the latest of her marvelous Girl Meets Duke books, which distinguishes itself with a plot with a serious side while still delivering just the right ratio of lushly detailed love scenes to laugh-out-loud moments.” (Booklist (starred review))
“Dare has created a deliciously sexy take on Lady and the Tramp. Laugh-out-loud scenes involving a runaway otter, a foul-mouthed parrot, and a scene stealing hedgehog balance out the darker, more introspective topics of the characters’ childhood abuse and neglect.” (Library Journal (starred review))
“Alex and Chase are playful, intense and stubborn--their flaws make them a magical match, not perfect but perfect for each other.” (New York Times Book Review on The Governess Game)
From the Back Cover
They call him the Duke of Ruin . . .
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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There was such a priceless start and I was instantly in love. I can't begin to explain how much I loved Penny and Gabriel. She is such a joy with the biggest heart ever. Her compassion knows no bounds. She's so sweet and a bit naïve, but she's kind and strong and knows her own mind. I loved her quirkiness. Gabriel was all gruff and sexy, and very intriguing. I smiled my way through the dialogue and entertaining moments they shared. They had wonderful chemistry and I loved that simmering passion between them, the build was off the charts. Seriously, this sucker was on fire!
I'm not sure how I was laughing one minute and teary-eyed the next but that’s what happened. It was incredibly entertaining but also filled with these heartfelt, emotional moments I adored. I felt that pain and heartache when they opened up. I loved how Penny really blossomed and gained this unwavering confidence. I loved Gabriel, how he faced things from his past and truly accepting what he was worthy of. I loved the Wallflower women together; how sweet they were and the family they formed. All the men were extremely funny. Chase and Ash with Gabriel were a riot. It was just a well-rounded, well thought out story. I loved the adorable animals and the side stories happening too. Hints of Nicola's story have me beyond excited, that was a heck of a teaser woven in. Can’t wait!
This was brilliant, funny, sweet, and sexy. I love a story that pulls me in and hours fly by before I even realize it, I devoured this! It was filled with witty banter, entertaining scenes, a lot of emotion, and holy wow with the heat. An excellent read!
Girl Meets Duke started off sweetly enough, but things - plot, characters, animals, subject matter, everything really - began to unravel around the halfway point; then, at the 82% mark, it all disintegrated completely into a weirdly empty, rote romance ending. It was one of those truncated romances, where the first half is nothing like the second, which is always frustrating.
My main problem was with Gabe, the hero. He’s a cardboard cutout instead of an actual character, and it’s impossible to know - and root - for him and his relationship with Penny.
Who is fine. Penny’s a great character, until she’s not. And the reason she’s not is my secondary problem with the book. Namely, the inclusion of all that childhood trauma. The romance, which truthfully never gets a chance to become romantic, is subsumed by it, and the book’s beginning promise of a frothy, zany Dr. Doolittle love story morphs into manipulative contemporary angst with a side of female empowerment.
Which, what? I mean, c’mon. It’s Tessa freakin’ Dare. She’s best when writing cotton candy spun romance...let her do that. Not try and cram tragic, contemporary issues into one of her perfectly great romantic premises for...reasons? Ugh.
She can still write a hot sex scene, however, and the book does include a few. It would have been nice to watch Penny and Gabe go from lust to love, though. And for them to have found a new home for that awful parrot.
And of course Ash and Chase return in a continuation of their bromance which is full of hysterical lines and the much anticipated Shakespearean insult. Rosamund and Daisy get a wee bit of funny too. Emma, Alex and Nic remain the true friends they have been, with Emma showing a bit more depth than I had previously thought she had.
Again I ask, why is no one making these into movies??
Be aware of some interesting recipes in this story. Penny is a vegetarian. She and Gabe have a picnic at one point in the book. She serves a variety of sandwiches: roast leaf (exactly what is sounds like), tuna-ish (brined turnip flakes), and sham (featuring beetroot). Still laughing as I think about this scene.
Top international reviews
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.
I love Tessa Dare but this was definitely not her best.
Anyway, this book is excellent fluff, but also deals with difficult themes sensitively and with the greatest care. It's fantastic.
And the animals!