The Earl’s Defiant Wallflower is a short historical romance, which is a series opener. The series is to focus on three young men who went away to war, and perhaps the young man that did not.
In the first book, Lord Oliver York has returned to society. He’s determined to encourage his mute friend, Captain Xaiver Grey, back into the land of the living, even if his return to the ballrooms of the ton gives the impression he’s in want of a wife. He’s not. He’d prefer never to get married, at least until he spies an unlikely wallflower, Grace Halton.
Grace Halton is on mission. She’s arrived from America with the sole purpose of marrying and then returning home. Only through marriage will Grace gain access to her inheritance, which she needs desperately in order to pay for her sick mother’s medical expenses. Grace didn’t count on being reviled for being an American, which makes it hard to bring a gentleman up to scratch. At this point she’s desperate. When she encounters Oliver for the first time, he’s “close enough” to what she’s looking for:
“Shall we dance?”
Just like that, her legs could barely hold her steady. She titled into his touch, conscious that he must feel her body tremble beneath his fingers. Why would he wish to dance with her? He was too young to be a roué, too gentlemanly to be a rake, too well-healed to be desperate for money, too smolderingly attractive to be in want of female companionship.
But it couldn’t hurt to make certain.
She narrowed her eyes and forced her mind back on her mission. She needed a husband with money. “Are your pockets to let?”
He blinked at her in confusion. “What? No!”
“Are you in the market for a wife?”
“Hell no!” His sculpted cheekbones flushed a subtle pink as he belatedly recalled he was speaking to a lady. “That is to say, at some point, it is my duty to take a wife.”
“Close enough.” Grace slide her wrist from his fingers and placed her hand in his. “This dance is yours.” (p. 16-17)
Unfortunately, Oliver and Grace’s instant attraction can’t go anywhere. While Oliver isn’t poor, he actually does need a wife with money to keep the estate going, meaning that he can’t marry Grace and let her take her inheritance back to America. Of course, telling themselves that a relationship isn’t possible is a sure-fire way to ensure that a relationship is exactly what happens.
The Earl’s Defiant Wallflower was a cute, short read. I had enjoyed the prequel novella in the series, especially the author’s lighthearted tone. The set up for the romance in this one wasn’t earth shatteringly innovative, but it was implemented in a fun way. It created a moderate sense of conflict that suited the short format of this romance.
What I found frustrating was the back and forth between the character’s and their insistence on individual plans. Personally, I thought they would have saved themselves a lot of trouble by sitting down together and formulating a plan to solve both their problems. It seemed to me, Grace’s insistence on returning to America for her mother was a somewhat unnecessary complication that could have been resolved with much less hassle. Had Grace actually talked with Oliver, this conflict could quite possibly have been avoided altogether. Alas, this type of logical thinking is rare in romances. Without this conflict, there would have been little standing in the way to their relationship.
While the conflict driving the romance was somewhat illogical, I still enjoyed the style and humour of the book. The light tone and humour will certainly have me coming back for book two in the series, as did the introduction of the two main characters of book two, Captain Xavier Grey and bluestocking, Jane Downing. The Captain’s Bluestocking Mistress is scheduled for release in March 2015.
*Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
If you liked the light tone and humour of The Earl’s Defiant Wallflower, Karen Hawkin’s The Prince Who Loved Me is another good choice. Like this one, The Prince Who Loved Me relies on a light and uncomplicated plot. Read my full review here.
For another wallflower with a plan, try Vivienne Lorret’s Winning Miss Wakefield. After her fiance proposes to another Merribeth needs a plan to reclaim her life. Kissing a rake’s a good plan, right? Like Defiant Wallflower this is another light read, but I think fans of Ridley will enjoy it.
Lastly, for those that like a good “compromised” tale, try Elizabeth Boyle’s If Wishes Were Earls. If you’re looking for a light read, with more illogical complications, you can’t go wrong with this one.