Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Series: Would-be Wallflowers, #1
Release Date: March 29, 2022
After the death of her mother Julia, Miss Cleopatra “Cleo” Lewis, the owner of the very successful Lewis Commodes company, sets out to fulfill her mother’s last wish and has reconciled with her estranged grandfather. Julia was a “free spirit” and though raised as a proper lady, she eloped with the blacksmith’s son and proceeded to live life on her own terms, which included taking lovers and following traveling acting troupes. When Cleo tells her dresser that she has agreed to participate in the season with her grandfather and plans to don the role of a wallflower since her own experience and her mother’s behavior has left her with no desire to marry, her dresser suggests that Cleo visit Quimby’s Emporium for her attire. It is here that Cleo meets Jacob “Jake” Astor Addison and then proceeds to buy the Emporium out from under him.
Jake is in London to visit his dearest friend, Merry the Duchess of Trent, and to convince Martha Quimby to relocate to the States and design costumes for his theaters – something he thought was a done deal until he is thwarted by Cleo. Before their meeting Jake had planned to return to America and marry a very nice girl, he even purchased a ring, but all that changed after Cleo came into his life, and now nothing will stop him from winning her – not even a ridiculous agreement to pick each other’s wardrobes. Jake plans to win Cleo’s heart, one kiss, and one kipper at a time, and it seems like he might be successful, that is until a well-meaning letter results in an unexpected visit that may cost him the love of his life.
What a great start to a new series! This was a well-written, nicely-paced story with wonderful characters. The story is both fun and piquant, it is filled with emotion, witty banter, a relationship-shy heroine, a brawny, kipper-loving hero, a great cast of secondary characters, steamyish love scenes, an opal ring, and a very sweet ending complete with an epilogue. I really loved this book and Jake has taken his place in my top five of all-time heroes. I also loved Cleo, but I agree with another reviewer who stated that her resistance to marriage was dragged out a little too long – not so much as to be annoying, but enough to be a bit tiresome. All in all, it was an excellent read and I can’t wait to read the next installment!
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that I requested and was provided to me by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.*