Spotlight – How To Be A Wallflower by Eliosa James!

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…

How To Be A Wallflower by Eloisa James

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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

A Duke, The Spy, An Artist, And A Lie by Vanessa Riley

⭐️⭐️

I could not get invested in this book. The writing style confused me. Cecilia’s chapters were in the first person, and Felton’s chapters were in the third person. The difference fractured the flow of the story. The description of the book and the actual plot are very different. I felt I was reading a different book than I was promised. I could not warm to either Felton or Cecilia; both were selfish and self-righteous. Cecilia’s relationship with her father-in-law was creepy and made me uncomfortable. The story was also too long, I would have personally cut out one third of the length and it would still have been plenty enough time to resolve all the issues. I thought I would love this book, however I feel I was cheated. The premise was promising, but to me the story fell flat.

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

Big Duke Energy Anthology by Kerrigan Byrne, Christi Caldwell, Amalie Howard, Janna MacGregor, and Stacy Reid

Overall
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
I have been waiting for Big Duke Energy for months since I discovered the book was being published. I was ecstatic with the whole collection! My two favorite novellas were The Earl On The Train and Duke Of Every Sin. I couldn’t choose the best between the two. Following closely after these two was The Wolf Of Westmore. Put Up Your Dukes was my next choice, and I enjoyed its differences from the rest. Finally, Loved And Found; however, due to the tropes, it was not my favorite. All five were excellent tales of secondary characters; some I have been waiting to read their story for years! I am so excited there will be three more of these anthologies. Big Duke Energy wowed and entertained with beautiful storytelling of passionate romance!

The Earl On The Train by Kerrigan Byrne
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I wish I had six stars! Oh Sebastian, how I have impatiently waited for your story! I fell in love with Sebastian and Veronica in The Duke With The Dragon Tattoo. I have looked forward to this romance for years, and it exceeded all my expectations. Villain to hero is a favorite trope, and Sebastian is the epitome! Sebastian had so many layers. He was such a complicated, vivid, and raw character. Veronica transforms from this defeated, timid, lonely person to a strong, vivacious woman that learns to take what she wants. This is a super-steamy, beautifully passionate romance. The physicality was so much more than common sensuality; it was emotional, angsty, and entrancing. The story takes place in forced proximity and includes intrigue and action. The secondary characters were lush and added to the plot. The writing was fantastic; several lines were so beautiful that I highlighted them, something I rarely do. Finally, although so short, The Earl On The Train is one of my favorite of the Victorian Rebel series. I did not want Sebastian and Veronica’s love story to end!

Loved And Found by Christi Caldwell
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Thaddeus and Edies’ story is about heartbreak, loss, and second chances. Thaddeus and Edie’s plight as young, doomed lovers is heart-wrenching. Torn apart by class difference, the two get a second chance after going through horrendous trials. Both Thaddeus and Edie were broken yet still held dignity and strength. This plot is angsty, fraught with heartbreaking revelations, and hauntingly passionate. Although the tropes are not my favorites, the quality of writing is undeniable. The plot builds evenly to a breath-taking final chapter. Despite my reservations on some plot points, I enjoyed this story immensely.

The Wolf Of Westmore by Amalie Howard
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I loved how the enemies-to-lovers and star-crossed-lovers tropes were combined in this romance. Wulfric was pure sin, and Jocelyn was pure sweetness. The sensuality between the couple was off the charts. Their passionate scenes were so well written. The dialogue and storyline immersed me into the story. The plot moved quickly and had a good pace but was not rushed. I loved Wulfric, the ultimate bad boy. Jocelyn was beautiful and caring but had a steely strength. Both main characters shone brightly. The storyline caught my attention in the first chapter and kept my rapt attention. This romance enchanted and enthralled me.

Put Up Your Dukes by Janna MacGregor
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Martin and Amelia are in an estranged marriage due to Martin’s ownership of a gossip newspaper. I thought the character development was phenomenal in such a short story. The storyline is pretty simple, but Martin and Amelia’s personalities are enormous. The unraveling of the marriage was palpable. The couple had to mature and grow into their relationship. This is a messy, passionate romance. Unlike the other novellas, this one shines because of the realistic take on a struggling marriage. This was not my favorite; however, I was captured by Martin and Amelia’s plight. It is visceral at times but concludes beautifully.

Duke Of Every Sin by Stacy Reid
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
So good! Ethan and Verity are thrown together over the fate of a small child. This is a hauntingly beautiful story of loss, forgiveness, and redemption. The plot is intricate and ebbed and flows well for such a short story. I read this one in an hour. I couldn’t put it down! Ethan is a tragic, flawed character, and Verity is all things sweet and loving. Ethan finds healing in Verity’s love. The passionate connection between the couple is perfectly portrayed. Both main characters were written with love and care. Duke Of Every Sin was the perfect ending to a stand-out anthology.

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

A Relentless Rake by Anna Harrington

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Lords Of The Armory books always deliver passionate romance and thrilling intrigue and action. I enjoy the strong female lead in this book. Alexander Sinclair, the Earl of St. James, lives his life unapologetically as a notorious rake. He is a spy and is tasked with finding a traitor, one that turns out to be Olivia Everett’s brother. The couple must work together to stop a threat to the government.

Honesty is what Alexander values the most. He is, in some ways, broken by his past. I liked the many layers of Alexander. He must learn that sometimes secrets are necessary to protect those you love. Olivia breaks down his very ordered world. Olivia has built a good life out of past indiscretions. Olivia is fiercely protective of those she loves; however, her trust is tested by all the men in her life lying to her. Olivia is multifaceted as well. Both main characters are complicated and flawed, which gives a level of believability.

Alexander and Olivia’s relationship is complicated. It takes the entirety of the book to resolve their issues. I liked this; the couple’s struggles were realistic and believable. The spark between the two built steadily; it was an attraction with mistrust at first sight.

This is also a plot with plenty of intrigue and action. The story moved well due to the perfect mix of passion and twists and turns. A Relentless Rake is the fourth book in the Lords Of The Armory series. Anna Harrington delivers an exciting, passionate romance that keeps you glued to the page. A Relentless Rake is a fantastic addition to the Lords Of The Armory series; I enjoyed every minute of this book.

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

The Marquess Makes His Move by Diana Quincy

⭐️⭐️⭐️

Alex, the Marquess of Brandon, is on a revenge mission. Rose, the foremost mapmaker that hides her identity, is caught in the crosshairs. The two develop an undeniable attraction, but there are many lies and secrets between the couple that they must overcome.

I am very conflicted regarding this book. My most significant issue is in the first third of the book, one of the main characters is attached to someone else. I found this uncomfortable and problematic. However, I felt the resolution to the issue, when it came, was very satisfying. I would have liked less subterfuge and resentment in the book’s last third. I felt the couple’s issues were tedious at times, and they could have been resolved much sooner. The dialogue was stilted and seemed forced between the two main characters in certain scenes.

That being said, both Alex and Rose were intricately developed, intriguing characters. The plot had many moving parts that did keep my interest. The connection between Alex and Rose was undeniable. I enjoyed sections of this book immensely, hence the conflict.

The Marquess Makes His Move is the third book in the Clandestine Affairs series. I enjoyed aspects of this book. However, the issues I have addressed hindered me from loving the book. Ultimately this is a book many readers will enjoy; it wasn’t for me.

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

White Knight Needed by Betina Krahn

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I enjoyed this Beauty And The Beast, unruly child adventure. I laughed out loud at times. The romance was sweetly passionate. Barclay Howard is burly and is awkward towards women, yet he has a heart of gold. Known as “The Howard Beast” by debutantes, he has reconciled at never finding a woman who could fall in love with him. Norah Capshaw is alone in this world, running from mysterious men, not knowing what they want. Norah is lonely, scared, yet independent. Barclay and Norah start their turbulent romance when Barclay saves Noah from being abducted at a free love rally. On top of that, Barclay has just inherited guardianship of an unruly, spoiled six-year-old heir to the earldom.

Barclay was a wonderful character. Barclay is self-conscious but would do anything for those he loves. He is shocked and angry when he is shackled with the responsibility of this young child but takes the role seriously, being both equal parts disciplined and loving with the child. He loves and corrects Elias as needed as good as any father. Norah was alone and scared, yet I admired her fierceness and independence. I loved how after her first shock, Norah sees beneath Barclay’s rough exterior to the wonderful, caring man inside. The couple’s sweet romance is peppered with passionate kisses, and it feels genuine and organic.

The plot flowed well; I sometimes felt there could be more substance to the story. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the entertaining storyline, laced with humor and adventure. Elias, the young earl, was simultaneously a thorn in the main character’s sides and a ray of funny sunshine. The secondary characters caught my attention, and I was invested in each of them. White Knight Needed is the second book in the Reluctant Heroes series. This was my first journey into this series, and I wasn’t disappointed. Betina Krahn is on my radar for light, humorous romances with plenty of adventure and heart.

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

The Duke Of Disorder by Anna St. Claire

⭐️⭐️⭐️

Lucas Pemberton, the Duke of Dorman, and Lady Harriet Dudley had been on the cusp of engagement when Harriet’s cruel father weds her to another man.  Five years later, Harriet is a widow, and Lucas has vowed never to love again.  Through the distraction of many occurrences like racing horses and unexpected wards, Lucas and Harriet must find their way back to each other.

I will first say I adored the first two books in this series; in fact, they were both five-star reads.  I wanted to love this book, but I couldn’t. I felt the subplots of the racing horse and unexpected wards convoluted the plot.  I would guess that the couple was on the page with each other, maybe thirty percent of the book.  I loved all the secondary characters; they were vivid and memorable; however, they overshadowed Lucas and Harriet’s romance.  The plot moved well but at times felt disjointed.  I would have loved much more focus on the development of Lucas and Harriet’s relationship.  The couple was not on the page together enough to get a sense of chemistry.

The Duke Of Disorder is the third book in The Rakes Of Mayhem series.  I loved the premise of the childhood friends that each finds love.  The first two books blew me away.  I did enjoy reading about the previous friends in this book, and the depth of their friendship was a joy to read.  Also, I thought the book did a great job at closure for the series, everything ended splendidly, and I was happy all the friends found happiness.  I would recommend this book because it does wrap everything up nicely.  I love Anna St. Claire’s writing style and character development; usually, the romance shines through.  However, this one fell short.  I am not discouraged; I have found many good authors I read will write a book that misses the mark with me.  I enjoy this author and look forward to future books.

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 18, 2022

A Man Of Legend by Linda Broday

⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

A Man Of Legend is everything excellent I expect from a Linda Broday Romance.  This book is full of action, intrigue, and romance.  Once again, we visit the powerful Legend family.  Crockett Legend and Paisley Mahone have a complicated past and present.  Torn apart at a young age by ambition, the couple now finds themselves on the opposite sides of a family feud.  Crockett and Paisley must solve a mystery, fight threats, and search their hearts.

Crockett and Paisley’s relationship is messy and complicated.  I enjoyed how their romantic journey unfolds slowly, reluctantly at times.  The couple’s stumbling blocks and hardships give a genuine feel to the romance.  The couple’s long-standing connection continues to expand throughout the entirety of the novel.  The plot was extensive, feeling like a saga at times.  I felt the dialogue seemed stilted sometimes, and I didn’t always understand Paisley’s reactions.  That being said, the flow and speed of the book moved well, and the characters were larger than life.

A Man Of Legend is the third book in the Lone Star Legends series.  The Legend family sagas are always a moving, romantic adventure.  Linda Broday creates historical western romance magic every time!

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

Found: Bare With A Baron by Tammy Andresen

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Found:  Bare With A Baron is a heartfelt, swoon-worthy romance about finding self-worth and forgiveness.  Alexi Starlight hides in the shadows and fringes, unsure of herself.  Dillon, Baron Brightmore is a slovenly, drunken mess due to a past tragedy.  The couple gets caught in a compromising situation in which they are innocent.  Together they try to solve who the mystery woman was to keep them from a hasty marriage.

I related to Alexi; her timidity and clumsiness endeared me to her.  Dillon is broken and has turned to drink to drown out the demons of the past. He has alienated those he loves and is drinking himself into an early grave.  I loved how the couple found the strength and self-worth to turn both their lives around.  This bond Dillon and Alexi make is irrefutable and irresistible.  

The couple’s sweetly passionate romance is a joy to read.  The plot flowed well and kept my interest from page one.  I loved the vulnerability in the characters.  Tammy Andresen breathes life into these complicated, flawed, yet lovable characters.  Found: Bare With A Baron is book three in the Calling All Rakes series.  These are delightful, easy-to-read, quick romances that will make you smile.  Tammy Andresen has created a heartwarming romance about how our imperfections can urge us to be better versions of ourselves.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance copy of this book through the author.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Release Date: March 22, 2022