Hello, fellow romance lovers! Today is the book birthday for How To Be A Wallflower by Eliosa James. It has been a while since I have read a book that I instantly wanted to pick up and re-read. How To Be A Wallflower by Eloisa James is that kind of book! I love an American hero, and Jake is the epitome! Rugged, unrefined, and rough around the edges, he is enough to make you swoon! Cleo is as fierce as her name – Cleopatra! She is unconventional, independent, and intelligent. What I loved most about Cleo was her quiet vulnerability. I stayed up all night reading this one; it might be slow—burn, but it is a page-turner too! The publisher has been kind enough to give me an excerpt from the book (and one of my favorite passages!). I think this excerpt delivers the essence of the book. Jake and Cleo had me at their first kiss! And I must say…that cover! Beautiful! I have also included my five-star review of How To Be A Wallflower. This is one of the best books I have read so far this year! So have fun with the excerpt, and don’t miss reading this book!
So! Without further ado…here’s the excerpt!
Thinking faster than he had in his entire life, he said, “You claim that the British are fair, and I claim the same for Americans. I have an idea. You will order my wardrobe from Quimby’s, in bright colors. I will order yours, in half mourning.”
She shook her head. “Why on earth would I allow you to order my clothing? Let alone do the same for you?”
“Because it would be fair, Cleo. We’ll spar like the honorable people we are: I will try to win Quimby’s for you, and you will try to win Quimby’s for me.”
“That’s utterly absurd! You seem to be overlooking the fact that I have already won the emporium.”
He had to admit that she had a point, but he was playing a double game: he no longer gave a damn about Quimby’s. He needed a reason to see Cleo: a solid reason that would give him the time and space to win a woman who seemed damned near unwinnable—because she couldn’t be courted by conventional means. At the moment, if he asked her to dance, she would conclude that he was trying to cozen her into giving up Quimby’s.
“Martha deserves a chance to decide whether she prefers to use her imagination, clothing everything from fairies to monarchs,” he said. “If your plan succeeds, she’ll spend much of her time measuring tiresome young women whose ambitions don’t match up to reality. How many viscounts are available to marry fishmongers’ daughters?”
Her brows drew together.
“It would be equitable,” he added, keeping his gaze somber without a hint of desire. Though he felt it, all right. Carnal desire gripped his limbs, but he refused to reveal it. “I will use fair means to convince Martha Quimby that clothing the gentry is tiresome. When ordering your clothing, I will give her the opportunity to create a wardrobe that befits a duchess.”
Cleo pressed her lips together. “I want to be a wallflower, and I plan to order clothing that will match my ambition.”
Jake’s mouth fell open. She pictured herself a wallflower? Not even layers of gray fabric could disguise her, any more than livery was disguising him. “You can’t ask Martha Quimby for a miracle!”
She gave him a perplexed look. “There’s nothing miraculous about it. I don’t care to be the center of attention, that’s all. Some women wear gowns that are translucent. My mother—” She broke off. “I don’t want to look naked, and I shall never dampen my petticoats.”
“I wouldn’t order such a gown,” Jake promised, revolted by the idea of men leering at her legs.
Cleo raised both eyebrows this time. Damn it, who ever imagined that a woman’s eyebrows were erotic? But hers were: winged, slender, derisive, thoughtful.
His control slipped another notch. He bent his head until his breath feathered over her lips. “Cleo.”
She met his eyes, fearless, amused. Desirous.
“Have you ever been kissed by a servant, Queen Cleopatra?”
“Never.” She didn’t move.
“Your mouth doesn’t match your dress,” he whispered. “Dress severe, lips plump and generous. Dress stern, mouth curving and delicious. Dress dismal, lips colorful, rosy.”
Her lips curled. “You do know adjectives, it seems!”
“A few.” His lips touched hers. “Irresistible.”
She drew in a breath, and he followed the air, his tongue sliding into her warm mouth. He let his hands settle on her narrow shoulders, not pulling her closer, just holding her, making her the still point in a spinning world.
Excerpt from HOW TO BE A WALLFLOWER by Eloisa James. © 2022 by Eloisa James. Used with permission by Avon Books, an imprint of HarperCollins. All rights reserved.
In case you missed it, here is my review…
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!
Thanks for stopping by! I love getting the word out on amazing new books and How To Be A Wallfower checked all the boxes! Until next time…