Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Series: Wallflowers vs. Rogues, #1
Release Date: October 27, 2020
Lady Beatrice Bentley has been squirreled away at the family estate in Cornwall researching words for her etymological dictionary, but is constantly being distracted by Stamford “Ford” Wright, the carpenter hired by her brother Drew, Duke of Thorndon to make improvements to the estate while he is on his honeymoon. She tries to ignore him, but he is just so handsome – um – annoying! She tells herself to focus, she doesn’t have much time left before she has to return to London for the season – hopefully her last. Her time in society has not been enjoyable and due to complications at her birth, she suffers from palsy that has causes a slight drooping to the right side of her face and got her dubbed Beastly Beatrice. Now all she wants is to just retire to the country, live in solitude and complete her dictionary.
Ford has come to Thornhill to help out his father who was injured, his father is the estate carpenter, but Ford has not followed in his footsteps, Ford is a ship’s carpenter in the Navy. While working at the estate, he has uncovered some disturbing information about this steward and wants to bring the information to the Duke’s attention so his father is not accused of theft. So far, he has had no success in learning when Thorndon is due to return and must return to London soon to report to his ship. So, when the opportunity to speak to Lady Beatrice literally knocks him in the head – he takes it. His interaction with Beatrice doesn’t go as planned and they both are more than a little shocked by the encounter. They part ways assuming they will never cross paths again.
But fate is not done with these two and when she returns to London and learns she has inherited a bookstore from an aunt she never met, she is overjoyed – until she learns that the property is in disrepair and her mother has gone behind her back and put it up for sale! She is visiting with her friends, Viola Beaton and Isobel Mayberry from the Knitting League, when Ford calls for her brother – who still has not returned. The ladies decide to visit the shop and convince Ford to join them to give his professional opinion. While at the shop, Beatrice falls in love with place and decides to keep it, it needs a lot of work – but before she can even begin to form a plan, Foxton, the buyer her mother lined up shows up and makes it clear that he wants the property and will stop at nothing to get it. He makes assures her that no carpenter in London will work for her and she might as well sell to him. Ford recognizes Foxton – he is Ford’s estranged grandfather – the man who disowned Ford’s mother for falling in love and marrying “beneath” her. Ford wants to thwart him and steps up to say he is working as her carpenter and the shop is not for sale – much to Beatrice’s shock.
After trying to hire another carpenter, Beatrice admits defeat and asks Ford to do the work. They form a friendship of sorts and slowly begin to fall in love, but there will be many things keeping them apart – the difference in their social stations, a very determined duchess, a greedy earl and secrets. Their road to HEA is not easy – but it is entertaining!
I really enjoyed this book, it is well written, flows nicely and is just a fun read. I would have to agree with other reviewers that the ending did wrap up too easily and there were a couple of plot points that seemed to have gotten dropped – but overall, it was a highly entertaining read with lots of amusing banter, cameos from characters in previous the series, great secondary characters, a slow burn romance with some warmish love scenes and a HEA complete with an epilogue. It is the first book in a new series and while it does have ties to the School for Dukes series – but you don’t have to read that series to enjoy this book. I am happy to recommend this novel and am really looking forward to Viola & Isobel’s stories!
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that I requested and was provided to me by NetGalley, Edelweiss and the publisher. All opinions are my own. *