There are few things more iconic in the subgenre of historical romance than a wallflower, especially one who brings a rake or otherwise scandalous personage to their knees. Two new historical romances showcase the allure and adaptability of this beloved storyline.
Erica Ridley’s The Perks of Loving a Wallflower is a sapphic Regency romp that radiates all the good, fuzzy feelings readers want in a romance.
Bookish bluestocking Philippa York is sick of her meddling mother’s constant insistence that Philippa find a titled, wealthy man to wed. She doesn’t really believe in love, and she is content to remain a wallflower; despite the many suitors thrown her way, her heart refuses to beat faster. Her attention lies with her reading club, and with her quest to help one of her fellow members, Damaris, get credit for a cipher she created that was then stolen by her uncle.
Damaris has also enlisted the aid of the wealthy, eccentric Wynchester family, as they have something of a reputation for vigilante justice. Thomasina “Tommy” Wynchester is a master of disguise. She and her siblings aren’t often welcomed by the more particular and upper-crust members of society, but that hasn’t stopped her from developing a crush on Philippa, whom she views as entirely out of her league. When Tommy and her family accept Damaris’ case, Tommy takes the opportunity to act on her feelings and help Damaris at the same time by posing as a charming baron named Horace Wynchester, a ruse that is quickly revealed to Philippa. The adorable interactions between “Horace” and Philippa soon give way to a delightful friendship between Tommy and Philippa, and then to a sweet romance.
In a sea of recent feminist historical romances, The Perks of Loving a Wallflower stands out due to its incisive examination of gender and sexuality. Philippa discovers that she’s not incapable of love; she simply has no interest in exploring it with men. Tommy uses disguises and cross-dressing to explore gender fluidity. When Tommy gets involved in Philippa’s quest, various hijinks ensue, and the interactions between the two winsome leads are what readers will remember most. There’s not a scene with Tommy and Philippa in it that doesn’t produce cheek-aching smiles.
Joanna Shupe’s sexy new Gilded Age romance, The Lady Gets Lucky, pairs an ambitious scoundrel who dreams of opening a supper club with a shy heiress looking to escape her horrible mother and marry for love.
Handsome rake Christopher “Kit” Ward and desperate heiress Alice Lusk first meet at a house party in Newport, Rhode Island, where they come up with a mutually beneficial arrangement. Kit will teach Alice, who wants to escape her overbearing mother and marry for love, how to be desirable for more than just her dowry. In return, Alice will help Kit launch his supper club by passing along recipes from a famed chef who used to work in her household.
Shupe excels at bringing to life the glamour and social climbing of the Gilded Age, which is especially refreshing given how the Regency and Victorian eras dominate historical romance. Alice is a trademark Shupe heroine who longs to pursue her goals and ambitions on her own terms. Not only does she want a full, loving marriage, but she has dreams of becoming a chef, something that Kit carefully facilitates for her at his club in scenes that will delight readers who have been enjoying the recent surge of foodie romances. And despite his bad reputation, Kit wants to be known and appreciated for more than just his rakish ways. It’s a joy watching the two of them support each other in their endeavors.
The Lady Gets Lucky,the second in Shupe’s Fifth Avenue Rebels series, is another well-balanced romance from this talented author, who weaves emotion, personal growth and some truly sizzling sex scenes together with effortless period detail.