HOW TO BE A WALLFLOWER
FIRST BOOK IN A BRAND-NEW SERIES
Today on Okie Dreams, we are delighted to feature How to Be a Wallflower by Eloisa James.
How to Be a Wallflower is the first book in the author’s brand-new Would-Be Wallflowers series with Avon Books and we couldn’t be more excited to talk about this gem of a read.
Inside this post, you will find our book review, along with a deliciously fun excerpt.
Now, let’s dive in, shall we?
I received an advanced reading copy (ARC) of this book from the author, publisher, or publicist. The receipt of this ARC did not influence my choice to review the book on this site. It also did not influence how I felt about the book or its characters, storyline, and overall feel. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. As such, they only deal with what is written on the pages of the book and how what is written and otherwise presented made me feel during and after my reading of the book.
How to Be a Wallflower by Eloisa James
Series: Would-Be Wallflowers #1
Published by Avon Books on March 29, 2022
Genres: Historical Romance
Buy: Amazon | B & N | Kobo | iBooks | Book Depository | Goodreads | IndieBound | Publisher
From New York Times bestseller Eloisa James, a new Regency-set novel in which a heiress with the goal of being a wallflower engages a rugged American in a scorchingly sensual, witty wager that tests whether clothing does indeed make the man—or the wallflower!
Miss Cleopatra Lewis is about to be launched in society by her aristocratic grandfather. But since she has no intention of marrying, she visits a costume emporium specifically to order unflattering dresses guaranteed to put off any prospective suitors.
Powerful and charismatic Jacob Astor Addison is in London, acquiring businesses to add to his theatrical holdings in America—as well as buying an emerald for a young lady back in Boston. He's furious when a she-devil masquerading as an English lady steals Quimby's Costume Emporium from under his nose.
Jake strikes a devil's bargain, offering to design her “wallflower wardrobe” and giving Cleo the chance to design his. Cleo can't resist the fun of clothing the rough-hewn American in feathers and flowers. And somehow in the middle of their lively competition, Jake becomes her closest friend.
It isn't until Cleo becomes the toast of all society that Jake realizes she's stolen his fiercely guarded heart. But unlike the noblemen at her feet, he doesn't belong in her refined and cultured world.
Caught between the demands of honor and desire, Jake would give up everything to be with the woman he loves—if she'll have him!
How to Be a Wallflower is a heck of a fun time. Opposites attract, enemies to lovers, a betting wager, a feisty heroine, a rugged hero, fabulous banter, and romantic chemistry for days. This regency historical romance has it all and then some.
Miss Cleopatra Lewis is the spirited granddaughter of a Viscount, as well as an heiress to a toilet fortune, and she is about to launch into London society despite having no interest in finding a man, let alone a husband. She knows all too well that she is a target of fortune hunters, and she refuses to fall into the hands of a man who cannot appreciate her mind, as well as her beauty and her pocketbook.
Jacob Astor Addison is a powerful and mesmerizing American businessman looking to expand his business assets by purchasing theater talent and bringing them to his investments in America. He is determined to purchase a costume emporium that Cleo manages to steal out from under him, something that surprises him as much as it frustrates him. Until he realizes he has more interest in Cleo herself than the costume business he sought so hard to buy.
“Damn it all,” he whispered a moment later. “You’ve undone me, Cleo.”
Cleo and Jake did not meet on the best of terms, but their romance was full of fun witty banter and direct and indirect challenges to their worldviews. Each character brought out something different in the other every single time they were together, and that made for such a captivating and entertaining read. They were so individualistic that their distinct personalities shone through every scene on every page, presenting a wonderful look at who they are and how they see the people and world around them.
This book was a pure delight for me. I loved it right from the start and continued to love it until the very last page. The characters and story were so much fun, and the romance was enchanting because of who Cleo and Jake are as strong, vibrant story people. They differ, sure, but they also align, and that made for some exciting scenes and repartee. I adored them, and I loved this first in series read.
Would-Be Wallflowers, indeed.
From How to Be a Wallflower by Eloisa James:
Thinking faster than he had in his entire life, he said, “You claim that the British are fair, and I claim the same for Americans. I have an idea. You will order my wardrobe from Quimby’s, in bright colors. I will order yours, in half mourning.”
She shook her head. “Why on earth would I allow you to order my clothing? Let alone do the same for you?”
“Because it would be fair, Cleo. We’ll spar like the honorable people we are: I will try to win Quimby’s for you, and you will try to win Quimby’s for me.”
“That’s utterly absurd! You seem to be overlooking the fact that I have already won the emporium.”
He had to admit that she had a point, but he was playing a double game: he no longer gave a damn about Quimby’s. He needed a reason to see Cleo: a solid reason that would give him the time and space to win a woman who seemed damned near unwinnable—because she couldn’t be courted by conventional means. At the moment, if he asked her to dance, she would conclude that he was trying to cozen her into giving up Quimby’s.
“Martha deserves a chance to decide whether she prefers to use her imagination, clothing everything from fairies to monarchs,” he said. “If your plan succeeds, she’ll spend much of her time measuring tiresome young women whose ambitions don’t match up to reality. How many viscounts are available to marry fishmongers’ daughters?”
Her brows drew together.
“It would be equitable,” he added, keeping his gaze somber without a hint of desire. Though he felt it, all right. Carnal desire gripped his limbs, but he refused to reveal it. “I will use fair means to convince Martha Quimby that clothing the gentry is tiresome. When ordering your clothing, I will give her the opportunity to create a wardrobe that befits a duchess.”
Cleo pressed her lips together. “I want to be a wallflower, and I plan to order clothing that will match my ambition.”
Jake’s mouth fell open. She pictured herself a wallflower? Not even layers of gray fabric could disguise her, any more than livery was disguising him. “You can’t ask Martha Quimby for a miracle!”
She gave him a perplexed look. “There’s nothing miraculous about it. I don’t care to be the center of attention, that’s all. Some women wear gowns that are translucent. My mother—” She broke off. “I don’t want to look naked, and I shall never dampen my petticoats.”
“I wouldn’t order such a gown,” Jake promised, revolted by the idea of men leering at her legs.
Cleo raised both eyebrows this time. Damn it, who ever imagined that a woman’s eyebrows were erotic? But hers were: winged, slender, derisive, thoughtful.
His control slipped another notch. He bent his head until his breath feathered over her lips. “Cleo.”
She met his eyes, fearless, amused. Desirous.
“Have you ever been kissed by a servant, Queen Cleopatra?”
“Never.” She didn’t move.
“Your mouth doesn’t match your dress,” he whispered. “Dress severe, lips plump and generous. Dress stern, mouth curving and delicious. Dress dismal, lips colorful, rosy.”
Her lips curled. “You do know adjectives, it seems!”
“A few.” His lips touched hers. “Irresistible.”
She drew in a breath, and he followed the air, his tongue sliding into her warm mouth. He let his hands settle on her narrow shoulders, not pulling her closer, just holding her, making her the still point in a spinning world.
Copyright © 2022 Eloisa James
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