The Earl Not Taken by A.S. Fenichel

The Earl Not Taken (The Wallflowers of West Lane, #1)Barb’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Wallflowers of West Lane #1
Publication Date: 3/17/20
Number of Pages: 304

A.S. Fenichel introduces us to the four ladies who make up the Wallflowers of West Lane in this first book of her new series. These ladies became fast friends when they were each shipped off to Miss Agatha Wormbattle’s School for Young Ladies in Lucerne, Switzerland. Their parents viewed this as punishment, but the girls were all deliriously happy to be away from their misbegotten parents and the mistreatment they endured at home. The set-up for the series and introduction of the ladies who will be featured in future books was nicely done. I came to like each of them and began to root for them to find their HEA. I do have to say though, I was not enamored of Lady Penelope (Poppy) Arrington – the heroine in this book. She just got on my very last nerve and I would have been just as happy if Rhys has just walked away from her. Her ‘issues’ just went on way, way too long for me. Poppy gives a whole new meaning to the word stubborn.

Aurora Draper – now Aurora Sherbourn, new widow of the Earl of Radcliff – was forced into marriage by her parents. It was a miserable, abusive three-year marriage and her three best friends had suffered through all of it with her. None of them were sad at the earl’s passing and Poppy said as much just after the funeral. Rhys Draper, Earl of Marsden, and Aurora’s brother frowned at Poppy when she made her statement. At least he did until he learned what that blackguard had put his much-loved sister through – then he felt guilt – so much guilt – because he hadn’t known and hadn’t protected her.

Poppy and Rhys had met several years ago – just before the girls left for Switzerland and they had bickered and fought ever since then. That certainly hasn’t changed since they have become adults but since Poppy, Mercy, and Faith have come to stay with Aurora to help her in her mourning, Rhys and Poppy are thrown together more and more often. When another of their group is betrothed to a stranger, they all vow – Rhys included – to find out more about the man and to assess whether he is of good character. If he isn’t, they’ll get Faith out of that betrothal one way or another. As Rhys and Poppy spend time investigating, they find that between the bickering, they actually like each other.

Poppy has some very strong views on marriage and men – and they are not favorable to either marriage or men. All she has ever seen are unhappy marriages with domineering, uncaring men who treat their wives and daughters as the chattel they are lawfully considered to be. On top of that, she nursed her friend Aurora back to health each time she was raped, beaten and often left at death’s door and that certainly didn’t endear any male to Poppy’s heart.

Rhys certainly had his work cut out for him once he realized he wanted Poppy for his own. She was unyielding in her opinion of men – even when she could see the evidence that not all men were cut from the same cloth – he was right before her eyes.

I enjoyed this read and am looking forward to the next book in the series – which will feature Faith and Nicholas. I really liked both of them in this book and can’t wait to read their story.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Avid reader/reviewer of historical romance and historical mysteries.

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