Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: The Wallflowers of West Lane #3
Number of Pages: 304
*** 3.5 Stars rounded up to 4 ***
This series features four friends who first met at Miss Agatha Wormbattle’s School for Young Ladies in Lucerne, Switzerland. The young ladies, Aurora, Faith (Misleading A Duke), Poppy (The Earl Not Taken), and Mercy had trouble following the rules of society, so their parents sent them away to school to learn to behave properly. While the parents all viewed it as a punishment, the young ladies viewed it as the best thing to ever happen to them. After school, Aurora’s parents forced her to marry a vile, abusive, nasty man who mistreated her – almost killed her. After his early death (YAY!), the Wallflowers all came to live with Aurora and they all vowed that no man would ever, ever, ever be allowed to hurt one of them again. Any man wishing to court and/or marry one of them would be fully investigated by all of the others. They would investigate and they would thwart whatever plans he had if it was necessary.
After the ultra-exciting, action-packed story in the last book, I was really looking forward to this book being another rip-roaring tale. I didn’t get it. This book was much slower paced – almost dragging – and I had a real love-hate relationship with the male lead. I liked him when he was kind and considerate of Mercy – but detested him when he’d kiss her one minute and then pursue marriage with her best friend the next minute. I liked the female lead, but, she often annoyed me as well. She was SUCH a doormat. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the read, it just wasn’t stellar.
Wesley Renshaw, the Earl of Castlewick, has dedicated his adulthood to rebuilding his family estate and legacy after his profligate grandfather lost or sold most of it off to stay out of debtor’s prison. Wesley’s father did the best he could with the estate, but with no resources at hand, he only managed to keep what was left in-tact. On his death bed, Wesley’s father made him promise to continue rebuilding the estate until it was whole again. Wesley’s talent and skills as an investor and businessman have allowed him to rebuild all of the family’s fortune and lands except for one piece, Cheshire. That piece is owned by Lady Aurora Sherbourn, a widow who Wesley intends to court and marry in order to gain the land. I like that Wesley is upfront about why he wants to marry Aurora – but his arrogance is beyond the pale. Although Aurora and everyone who knows Aurora tells him she will not marry him or anyone else, he considers the marriage a done-deal – it will happen. Does he really think he is so irresistible? Apparently. He likes Aurora very well, but he doesn’t love her – he just wants the land.
Mercy Heath is the only Wallflower left living with Aurora. Mercy is sure she’ll never marry – she is a woman of no means, no title, and no influence. The only men who have pursued her are of absolutely no interest to her. She is a bit concerned about her future once her beloved aunt, Lady Phyllis Mattock, passes away – but she hopes that won’t be for a very long time. Mercy understands that not everyone can marry for love, but she’s not met one man who even remotely interests her. Mercy is a gifted musician who most hostesses’ request to play at every function she attends. Basically – she performs for her supper. When she dances with Wesley Renshaw at a ball, she is smitten. Nobody ever dances with her and she doesn’t understand why he does. He actually treats her as if he likes her and likes dancing with her. When, two months later, Aurora’s toad of a mother announces that the Earl of Castlewick will be paying calls on Aurora with the intention of courting and marrying her, Mercy is shocked – but mostly she’s outraged for her friend.
I liked seeing the arrogant Wesley come to terms with the promise he made to his father. Sometimes, you just have to let go and change your plans to something even better. I didn’t like cousin Malcolm in the least and couldn’t understand his role in the book. I know he was to cause conflict, but he was so ill-defined. I couldn’t decide if he was truly a friend and trying to do something for Wesley, albeit stupidly, or if he was, at heart, a villain. I also couldn’t understand the quick tolerance for him. I don’t know – that whole thread was just uncalled for and weird.
I enjoyed the story and am looking forward to Aurora’s book. I hope that one is as exciting as the second book in the series. I’d love to see the author and publisher add books for Mr. Geb Arafa (I love him), and for Mercy’s aunt Phyllis. That probably won’t happen, but I’d love it. I hope you will read this book and enjoy it too.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.