How To Be A Wallflower is a stand-out, sparkling romance sure to steal your heart. American businessman Jacob Astor Addison, “Jake” and English businesswoman Cleopatra Lewis, “Cleo” make a devil’s bargain. Each wants the same costume emporium. The couple strikes a deal to have a competition that finds them dressing each other. A battle of will ensue where hearts and passions intertwine.
Jake is a rough-hewn, straightforward American who unashamedly goes after what he wants. Jake shocks England’s nobility’s delicate sensibilities. I adored Jake’s character; what he wants, he goes after with the idea of losing not an option. Jake almost instantly falls for Cleo and is brave enough to own it. He is more noble, intelligent, and passionate than any refined Duke. Jake is not strikingly handsome and is too big and inelegant, yet he has an undeniable aura, a huge heart, and a shrewd mind.
Cleo is a forward-thinking, independent businesswoman who, through her past with her mother, has sworn off men. Passion is fleeting, and love is a fickle, unsteady emotion to be avoided. Cleo is fierce yet vulnerable. I loved how Cleo thought. She was logical and precise except when it came to Jake and her fragile heart.
This plot is a slow burn. I usually like a faster pace; however, Jake and Cleo’s journey is exquisite, even if it unfolds slowly. Jake’s emotions toward Cleo develop instantly, and he fights for Cleo very early on. I found this point unusual in a plot in this genre. Usually, the heroine has these “instant love” feelings. The dialogue had a rhythm or an ebb and flow that created a vulnerable, inquisitive bubble for the couple to evolve. The storyline felt natural, and the relationship between Jake and Cleo was grippingly organic. The connection between the couple was instantaneous. The physicality was understated; the passionate languid kisses were strikingly romantic. These moments were more captivating than the more sensual scenes. I enjoyed the secondary characters as much as Jake and Cleo. These characters, even down to the insignificant flower girl, breathed life and depth into the story.
How To Be A Wallflower is the first book in the Would Be Wallflowers series. This novel grabbed my attention from the first chapter, which is quite a feat when it is a slow-burn plot. This slowly grew into a passionate, realistic, loving representation of a couple falling in love. Ultimately this is a tale of two independent, strong people who find that love can be an incredible, freeing, permanent fixture in a turbulent world. Love can’t erase the past, but it can heal and make a way to a bright future. Eloisa James has created magic in a breathtaking journey of discovery and passion. I could not put this book down and eagerly wait for the next one!
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance copy of this book through Netgalley and the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Release Date: March 29, 2022