Also by this author: The Duchess Deal, The Governess Game
Also in this series: The Governess Game
Series: Girl Meets Duke #3
Published by Avon on August 13th 2019
Genres: Historical Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss, Avon
Buy on AmazonBuy on Audible

They call him the Duke of Ruin.

To an undaunted wallflower, he's just the beast next door.

Wealthy and ruthless, Gabriel Duke clawed his way from the lowliest slums to the pinnacle of high society—and now he wants to get even.

Loyal and passionate, Lady Penelope Campion never met a lost or wounded creature she wouldn’t take into her home and her heart.

When her imposing—and attractive—new neighbor demands she clear out the rescued animals, Penny sets him a challenge. She will part with her precious charges, if he can find them loving homes.

Done, Gabriel says. How hard can it be to find homes for a few kittens?

And a two-legged dog.

And a foul-mouthed parrot.

And a goat, an otter, a hedgehog . . .

Easier said than done, for a cold-blooded bastard who wouldn’t know a loving home from a workhouse. Soon he’s covered in cat hair, knee-deep in adorable, and bewitched by a shyly pretty spinster who defies his every attempt to resist. Now she’s set her mind and heart on saving him.

Not if he ruins her first.


by Tessa Dare

Those who have read The Duchess Deal and The Governess Game know how beautiful and sweet Tessa Dare’s stories are. She writes the most adorable heroines, the best brooding, troubled heroes and some of the wittiest banter. In The Wallflower Wager we meet the third of the quartet of friends who bonded over the fact that they seemed to be unsuitable for marriage.

While Emma and Alex both aren’t originally from the elevated circles of aristocracy, Penny is the daughter of an earl who for all intents and purposes may be called a spinster if it weren’t for the fact that she lives in the city and has her beloved friends. She rarely goes out and is devoted to her merry mix of furry friends including but not limited to a parrot, a hedgehog, a goat, a dog and cats which she at one time rescued from injury or abandonment.

Enter Gabriel Duke, was a street urchin but made a fortune bringing members of the aristocracy to their knees. With one word, he does his nickname, Duke of Ruin, justice. He is feared but far from being accepted by the ton. When Penny finds herself in a pickle and is forced to re-enter society and find homes for her pets our broody hero offers to help. What then ensues is one delightful courtship that will have you utterly charmed and hot and bothered.

Like the rest of him, his heart was strong, defiant, loyal. Capable of lasting love. He might revel in denying it, but she knew the truth. If he ever permitted himself to love, he would love fiercely and without reserve. Only the most stubborn of women would be able to bear it.

Hidden under Gabriel’s hard exterior is a soft center. He is a wonderful hero who on one hand doesn’t care that he isn’t accepted by the ton yet he doesn’t want to give them any reason to talk or speculate. His poor upbringing has always been a sore spot.
Penny is an adorable heroine who gravitates towards the wounded and injured (and vice versa) so it’s no surprise that she is the one who will, for a change, bring the Duke of Ruin to his knees.

It was trust at first sight. I felt safe with you. All those firsts that I believed had been stolen from me . . . With you, I got them all back. I took them back, on my own terms. I only wish I could go back and help recover all the firsts you missed, too.”

I loved these two so much – they were everything. Their banter hilarious and so smart, and, JESUS, their connection…so, so, SO HOT! We get to catch up with Ash and Chase too and I loved the scene where they bonded with Gabriel, it was such a hilarious scene I couldn’t breathe because I was laughing so hard.

There is one thing I need to mention and I’m going to be honest – I could have given this story 5 stars for the story alone but I’m big on crediting where credit is due. In this story there is a part where Penny and her friend Nicola sit together and eye a gossipy newspaper. This is after an adventure with Gabriel that may have caused a little bit of a scandal.

“I don’t know why this so difficult. It’s not as though I can change the contents by waiting. What’s printed is printed. I am either a scandal or a spinster already, depending on what’s inside.”
“Actually,”Nicola mused, “while the paper remains closed, you’re both.”
“Right now, you’re both a scandal and a spinster.”
“I’m so sorry. I’m afraid I don’t follow you.”Penny frequently had difficulty following the twists and turns of Nicola’s mind. Everyone did. Nicola’s eyes went unfocused, as though she were staring at distant horizon. One that only she could see.
“Imagine you took a cat,”she said slowly, “and sealed it in a box.”
“Seal a cat inside a box?”Penny was horrified. “I’d never do such a thing.”
“Of course you wouldn’t actually do it. I’m only trying to illustrate a philosophical conundrum.”

OK, so my bestie called me a nerd for even knowing this but see, there is a theory called Schrödinger’s Cat devised in 1935 which I’m not going into in detail but it’s a thought experiment by physicist Erwin Schrödinger which you can read about here if you want to geek out a bit. The thoughts Nicole uttered are based on this theory and while I think it’s totally OK to take creative liberty I would like to see the source credited in author’s notes or acknowledgements. I didn’t find any of that in The Wallflower Wager and I have to say that I was a little disappointed, so much so that I deducted a star.

With all that being said, this story is one of the highlights of this year and I wish I could have rated it 5 stars. I will keep reading Tessa Dare’s stories because they are some of the best Historical Romance books. This one will make you swoon, laugh, fall in love with Penny and Gabe and leave you totally satisfied with their Happily Ever After. I am looking forward to Nicola’s story – she’s a nerd after my own heart.


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