Two opposites find love amid a madcap adventure and a coterie of troublemaking rescue animals in The Wallflower Wager by Tessa Dare.
Lady Penelope Campion has an undeniable weakness for the wounded, especially animals. Known as an eccentric spinster, Penny cares for creatures that have nowhere else to go. There are lewd parrots, a bevy of kittens and even a goat among her little homegrown refuge, a Dr. Doolittle’s paradise. Unfortunately, her next pet project takes the form of her rather grouchy neighbor, Gabriel Duke.
A self-made real estate mogul, Gabe is known as the Duke of Ruin. There is no love lost between him and the aristocracy, and he takes immense pleasure in tying them up in all sorts of costly red tape. His current mission is to sell the recently renovated home that rests next to Penny’s, but her nosy menagerie is making the task quite difficult. Gabe hopes to strike a bargain with Penny, playing upon her deep insecurities of never being taken seriously as a lady of society. He will aid her in re-homing her animals to restore her good name, and as a result, he’ll be able to sell the home he’s dying to get off his hands.
Gabe is a prickly hero who doesn’t take kindly to his breeches being coated in several layers of animal hair. But behind all his scowls and sneers rests a delicious, ooey-gooey marshmallow center. Penny, a walking ray of sunshine, is the perfect foil. Kind to a fault, all she truly wants to do is help living things and make the world a better place. At times, Gabe struggles with ripping off Penny’s rose-colored glasses if it means changing the sweet, caring woman she really is—and that he comes to love.
Like many of Dare’s romances, The Wallflower Wager will have you in tears from both laughter and the pure, unfiltered emotion of Gabe and Penny’s path to love. Having long since adopted the shell of a ruthless businessman, Gabe fears he no longer knows what it means to be vulnerable. Penny treats him with the gentle hesitation she would give to a frightened, caged animal, and earns his trust and affection over time.
There’s a reason why Dare’s historical romances are beloved by so many readers: She truly captures the heart and soul of a happily ever after. The respect and affection Penny displays for the animals and the people she loves will remind you of all that is good in the world (and we really need that right now). Fans of any of Dare’s books will be reminded why they keep reading her astounding, swoony romances, and as for newer readers—welcome to the club.