Cover Image: The Wallflower Wager

The Wallflower Wager

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Member Reviews

Content warnings: Minor violence; mention of past animal abuse; hero was neglected in childhood; heroine was sexually abused as child, discussed in some detail (she eventually confronts her abuser).

This is another stellar entry in the Girl Meets Duke series – while these do all stand alone, and can be read in any order, there are some great cameos here from the heroes and heroines of the previous two books, which I greatly enjoyed! It’s a nice way to round out the world and keep things from feeling too self-contained when characters actually seem to put the work in to maintain their friendships across multiple books. I recommend all the books in this series anyway, so I definitely think it’s worth reading from the beginning, even though you don’t have to.

The Wallflower Wager follows Penelope, who we’ve seen in previous books as an animal-loving, slightly odd woman who is determined to avoid any social events, remain a spinster, and spend her time on more worthy causes, like rehoming rescue animals. Her new next door neighbour, Gabriel Duke, is a self-made man known as the Duke of Ruin, who has made his fortune by trading in gossip and debts. They are an unlikely match, being about as far as it’s possible to be away from each other on an ethical scale, but they  find themselves completely drawn to each other as he draws her out of her comfort zone and she helps him warm up to the world – it’s the Hufflepuff/Slytherin dynamic done to perfection.

One thing I loved about this is that neither hero nor heroine is particularly reluctant to admit that they are suffering from a certain amount of insta-lust, and it takes a while for actual feelings to develop. They get on each others’ nerves immensely, but their physical chemistry is what sets them on the path to friendship, and then love. It’s nice to see this kind of relationship progression, when all too often romance jumps very quickly to declarations of the ‘L’ word when what the characters seem to mean is that they want to get into each others’ pants. Gabriel’s growliness and Penny’s sunshiney nature make for some wonderful banter, too – I loved both of them.

Up until about 60% of the way through, I would have put this on the ‘very fluffy’ end of things. There are some hilarious scenes involving the animals, including the most ridiculously adorable meet cute, where Penny ends up sneaking into Gabriel’s bedroom to recover an escaped parrot, only to be faced with a rather unexpected amount of towel-clad man… There’s also some question over whether Gabriel’s housekeeper is entirely human, which really made me chuckle! The humour that runs throughout Dare’s books is front and centre for a lot of the book. It does end up hitting some darker notes, with both hero and heroine having some deepset childhood trauma that they need to work through. I thought both of these were handled pretty well, but they may be upsetting for some, so check the content warnings above and let me know if you want more details.

Overall, this is another hit for me, and a definite recommendation for the whole series! Five out of five cats!
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The Wallflower Wager was my stay-up-all-night and read book, I almost finished it in one sitting (sleep won out a few chapters near the finish haha). I always forget just how much fun Tessa Dare’s books are to read until I actually read one again and this was no different. It was laugh out loud funny from the first chapter. 



As with any/all Tessa Dare characters, Penelope and Gabe were delightful (and such fun to read!) but for me Penelope’s pets stole the show. If I’m honest, I can’t remember most of my reactions (because I was too busy devouring the book haha) other than I LOVED IT I LOVED IT I LOVED IT.  



Every time I think I’ve found a definitive favourite (Tessa Dare) book, Tessa comes out with a new one and I’m left with the same predicament all over again. I’m thinking I’ll just wait until the last book comes out and then choose haha.
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Another fabulous read from Tessa Dare! 

Having loved the two previous books in this series, I was eager to read ‘The Wallflower Wager’ and discover Penny’s story. I’m happy to report that I was not disappointed. 
In the four friends that this series covers, Ms Dare has created warm, loveable heroines who know their own mind and what they do and don’t want. They’re feminine but determined, whether they have come from the lowliest of backgrounds or aristocratic ones, as is the case with Penny in this book. 
Lady Penelope Campion is an animal lover of the highest order and nothing is too much trouble when there is a furry creature in need. Gabriel Duke was born on the streets and has worked his way up to become a very rich man, but he has no desire to become part of the elite. In fact, he detests their ways and their way of life. However, he knows what they look for and this includes the right address. A house next to the daughter of an Earl – even if said spinster is reclusive and unattractive. That won’t matter to them. They will still be the neighbour of aristocracy. 
But when Gabe unexpectedly finds Penny in his bedroom, chasing an errant parrot, he immediately discovers that she is most certainly not the old, unattractive spinster he’d imagined…
As usual, Tessa Dare has delivered a wonderfully romantic, and incredibly sexy book laced with humour that although historical, also feels very modern. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to anyone and look forward to the fourth, and last book in the series.
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I’m actually meant to now sum this book up, aren’t I? Easier said than done with Tessa Dare. She’s my little girl fan crush and this book is perfect. Perfect I tell you. I didn’t know how Dare would work Penny’s story, Penny was the oddball of her little foursome of friends and her story is not entirely what I expected. It went above and beyond what I thought it would be. Penny as a character has real depth, she’s kind, compassionate, yet strong beyond anyone’s imagining and her connection to the wounded animals she takes in, the reasons she feels the need to care for them is heartbreaking, to say the least.*

Our hero of this piece is Gabriel… Gabe…The Duke of Ruin. Whatever you want to call him this Debutante wouldn’t mind being ruined by him in the least. *Coughs*

Gabe is a self-made man who has worked for everything he now has, brought up from the slums and workhouses of London, he isn’t the least fond of the aristocracy. Much less the tantalising goddess he finds himself neighbours with. Nothing like a forced close proxy to make the sexual tension simmer to boiling point. I loved the dialogue, it’s witty, humorous and sexy beyond belief.

I really do admire Tessa Dare, she brings together the perfect blend of historical detail, romance, humour with a sprinkle of modernity. Her characters are well fleshed out, they have real issues, feelings, and obstacles to overcome. Dare makes them work for their happy ending and I applaud her for it. I just love Tessa Dare and can't wait to see what she writes next!

*(I won’t spoil this but I will say please do read the author warnings on the author website for this one, as it does deal with sensitive topics that may be hard for some readers. I personally found it a tough subject, but I can say the author handles it with the utmost care.)
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Once again Tessa Dare has blown me away with her wonderous way with words, again and again she proves that she is in a whole league of her own when it comes to historical romance, there isn’t a single negative thing that I can say about her work, she is pure class and this one maybe the best I have read to date, it is unbelievably good.

This is the third book in the Girl Meets Duke series, and the best yet, in my personal opinion. What makes this my personal favourite is the fact that our hero is a regular self made man, instead of an aristocrat, he has worked hard to pull himself out of the gutter to become such a powerful tycoon. I don’t anyone who reads my reviews will find that a surprise that I prefer regular Mr. Duke to an actual Duke, but seriously though this man is….well, I think I need a gif to say what I think of Gabe…

Lady Penelope, what a fabulous character she is! From the first page when she was trying to coax a stubborn parrot from the windowsill with a biscuit, I knew that I had found a kindred spirit, she is brilliant, she babbles on from one topic to the next, she loves her animals and will do anything in her power to look after them and she will fight tooth and nail to protect them, she is kind, caring and very misunderstood by the ignorant people of society that find her odd – Penny, you are not odd, you are unique! She has gathered a menagerie of animals a fact that her family are at odds with and soon give her an ultimatum; if she wishes to stay in London and live independently as she is now, then she must be rid of the animals and enter society or she goes home to become the much loathed role of spinster aunt. Enter Gabriel Duke, the notorious Duke of Ruin who has just moved in next door and after an hilarious first encounter offers to help her, but it is while helping her that sparks start to fly and our unlikely duo become more then just ‘acquaintances’

Gabriel Duke, I think you all know what I think of him; sexy, ruthless, protective, brooding, growling, hard-working, self-made man, enthralling, mesmerising…he is just so damn hot, I need a bucket of water thrown over me!! I don’t think I can take the heat that radiates from this testosterone fuelled hulk of a man.

Mmmm!! …..Where was I? Gabe, yes…he has clambered , dragging himself out of the dirt and the gutter to become this powerful, ruthless tycoon who doesn’t take no for an answer. He has just bought the house next door to Penny and plan’s to do it up and sell it for a huge fortune, and he knows that with the house being so close to the beautiful spinster’ Penny he will get so much more for it as every young buck and rogue will want to live next door to her. The only problem with his plan to renovate the house and bring it up to date is none other then the girl next door – if he hasn’t got enough to deal with, now he has to deal with a house full of animals.

This is just so good, the relationship between Penny and Gabe is brilliant, they are laugh out loud funny and the chemistry is off the charts sizzling hot. I loved them because they are so different, I wouldn’t never have believed that they would work as well together as they did.

This is everything that we all have come to love about Tessa Dare books; humour, twists and turns, sexual tension, fabulously engaging plot, gorgeous couple all entwined with that unmistakable Tessa Dare gift for mesmerising story-telling. Honestly I cannot recommend this book enough, it will appeal to all Dare fans and also for those who haven’t read a Tessa Dare book yet – really is there any one out there who hasn’t read on of this fine authors work? – then this is the perfect introduction to her wonderful work.
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“ Fancy a foxglove?”

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CONTENT WARNINGS: Childhood sexual assault. 

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Tessa Dare can be relied on for mixing humour, historical Romance, Strong females, and sexy times. I've really enjoyed her earlier books in the series ( number one is one of my all-time favourite romance novels) and from the get-go, I was a sucker for Penny. We have a ray of sunshine vs grump trope at play here, Penny ‘I never met an animal I couldn’t rescue’ Campion, lives in a house in Mayfair avoiding society whilst caring for her ever-growing menagre, The “Duke of Ruin” himself Gabriel Duke moves next door. He is equally revered and feared having risen in Society from very humble beginnings he uses his power for good but more often to Ruin families. 

Having moved next to Penny, they engage in a little “  Pygmalion” with a side dish of “ Doctor Dollitle” trying to improve Penny's chances of marriage and acceptance back into polite society. Penny finds Gabriel's softy underbelly and love ensues.

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What I liked: Penny our wonderful, vegetarian with a kind heart who brings people together.  I was such a sucker for her, I loved he strong inner strength. The scene with the Goats killed me and i was giggling out loud.

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What I disliked: Quite honestly as a crafted author I really think Tessa Dare should have handled Pennys Trauma a lot better. There has been a lot of discussion on both reviews and online about the use of content warnings and where to place them. Tessa and her publisher decided not to open her novel with them and only the sexual abuse trauma came to light through reviews and Dare doing a very clumsy twitter thread ( this was later retracted and handled better).

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The “ abuse” is only mildly hinted at throughout, Tessa novels have a wonderful frothiness to them and this is what the readers are going in to enjoy. This was poorly handled to just come out the blue on chapter 24.

Spoiler section- Skip ahead if you have not read. 

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Penny after telling Gabriel that she had suffered abuse from her father's friend was made to feel the horrible layers of self-abuse, neglect and withdrawal. This alone cannopt fully be captured in a chapter ..She goes on to meets her abuser again at a ball, he is also now her brother's father in law. I hade to stop reading and unpack the last few chapters, what of Alice this abusers daughter and Pennys brothers wife? What horrors were not addressed? Penny mentioning about their daughter and being the company of this man. Horrible handling of this issue.

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Tropes- Sunshine Vs Grump, Quirky heroine, Soft hearted hero, Animals, Wallflower, Opposite attracts, 

Rating: 💗💗💗💗

Sexytimes:🍆🍆🍆

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ARC provided by Edelweiss and publisher in exchange for an honest review and also the Mills and Boons Insiders for this chance to read an early copy.
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I found #TheWallFlowerWager rather different to other romances in the market (in a good way) and very humorous. 

The lead characters are engaging and rather unique, and it was a joy to watch the relationship develop between Penny and Gabriel who come from vastly differing backgrounds, and have both endured the scorn of society at large, for being their peculiar themselves.

As an animal lover, TheWallFlowerWager was doubly relatable and enjoyable.
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I've enjoyed all the books in the 'Girl Meets Duke' series, stories of independent women, and damaged, romantic men. Penny and Gabriel's story is my favourite so far, perhaps because Penny takes in waifs and strays, and has an unfailing love of animals, something I can relate to.

There are scenes in this story which are hilarious, particularly, the rescuing of Delilah, the foul-mouthed parrot, which occurs at the beginning and sets the scene for what's to come. Penny and Gabriel's meeting at this time also sparks the passion that grows between them and is so enjoyable.

Gabriel, the Duke of Ruin, is not from the aristocracy, but many fear him, he is driven, dangerous and damaged, but he has so many redeeming qualities, and it's impossible not to fall a little in love with him. Penny is honest, loving and generous, but she too is emotionally damaged, and her guilty secret, means Penny and Gabriel have more in common than he first supposed.

The plot is full of historical detail and moves effortlessly along, the characters are engaging and believable. I enjoyed the witty dialogue and the simmering passion, and most of all the happily-ever-after, even though I was sad to come to the end of Penny and Gabriel's story.

A delightful, historical romance, amusing, original and shamelessly romantic.

I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon in return for an honest review.
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This book was an absolute treat and a half to say the least. I was hooked from the opening moments and found that I simply couldn't put it down, for even a moment, which says it all really. The writing was witty and wonderfully seductive with a dry sense of humour served on the side for good measure.The narrative pulled me into its midst of seduction and love and I read with baited breath at the passion burning off the pages. 

Lady Penny was a dream character who I absolutely adored, hedgehog and all. Her wilful ways, stubbornness and ever expanding heart shot her straight onto my list of favourite characters and I do believe that she made this book into the shining success it was. Her passion and chemistry with the dashingly devilish Gabriel Duke was everything and more that a regency romance should be and I was addicted to their blossoming romance from the start.

The Wallflower Wager is everything you could possibly want in a romance.....it is pure perfection on every level and a book that is not to be missed. I sincerely hope that this is not the last time we hear from the Duchess of Ruin that's for sure.
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The Wallflower Wager is part of the Girl Meets Duke series, and is Penny’s story. Gabriel Duke and Lady Penelope Campion meet when she breaks into an apparently empty house to catch a runaway (flyaway?) parrot. And it just gets better, sexier, and funnier from here.

Penny is an amazing heroine. She's spent the time since her disastrous debut in rescuing all kinds of animals. However, she's now forced into finding homes for them when her aunt decides to give her one last chance to re-enter society . If she doesn't, then she will have to return to the family home to become a spinster aunt. She's apparently scatty, naïve, ditzy - but hidden underneath is a truly strong character with a caring heart.

Gabriel is...he's...what can I say about a hero this wonderful? He's from the slums, self made, and as sexy as hell! Called the Duke of Ruin because he financially ruins members of the aristocracy, he decides to help Penny with her aunt's wager, because he knows that having a real 'Lady' living next door, will add value to his house. He's apparently got a heart of stone, but it soon becomes clear he's got integrity, as well as morals.

They both have secrets, both are scarred by their past, and lonely. Yet, they are equals and so perfect for each other.
This review wouldn't be complete without mentioning Delilah the parrot. I have a sneaky affection for her - she's such a brilliant creation. The interaction between them had me in stitches.
It is a glorious caper of a book! Tessa Dare has the rare ability to write real romantic comedy. It's effortless, unforced, and done in such a way that you really will cry with laughter. The interaction between hero and heroine veers between witty dialogue and sexy shenanigans, but always with that underlying spark of real, sensual, attraction. It's breath-taking!

The Wallflower Wager is the first Tessa Dare I’ve ever read. I loved it! So much so, I went and bought the first two in this series.

*Don't buy this if you are a traditionalist, and don't like 'modernised' language and characters. 
*DO buy this if you love humour, fun, sexy, and parrots brought up in brothels!
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So much to love about this well crafted story. Tessa Dare’s writing is engaging, her characters well developed and her descriptions pull you into the time and place. Absolutely recommend for some time away from the real world. Perfect escape.
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I enjoyed this. I was worried that Penny was going to be just a bit too much in the quirky stakes, but actually she was a lot of fun.  Gabriel is a good hero, the dialogue is witty, the banter with the previous heroes is fun, the animals are hilarious and it's got a really satisfying happily ever after.  I don't think I love it quite as much as The Governess Game - but then doll funerals are a high bar to pass, although the goat and the dog on a trolley run it close.  A lovely summer read.
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She is an Endearing heroin and he is rather bewildered Duke as he tries to rehome her motley collection of rescued animals. This book is such fun but with  a serious undertone and is well worth reading
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I enjoyed this very much. Engaging characters, and beautifully written.

Read on holiday in one sitting.

Thank you to Mills & Boon Insiders and to Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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There is always something so delightful about Tessa Dare's books, and I am never happier than when I am reading one of hers - a fact definitely not changed by The Wallflower Wager, which is as wonderful as the rest of the series that precedes it. There's a joyful irreverence about her stories, with comical details at every term, but she also doesn't shy away from emotional depth - and this is one of the more emotional I've read of hers. Penny is the kind of friend you long to have - sweet, loyal and a touch eccentric - and from the very first page, I was rooting for her happy ending. And, of course, Tessa did not disappoint!
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This book was a joy to read. As always with Tessa Dare, the words flow smoothly and whisk us away to another time and place.

I so enjoyed seeing Penny and Gabriel learn to love and trust one another. It was great to see characters from previous books in the series pop up too, the friendships between the characters elevate the story above many other regency romances. There are plenty of chuckles along the way too.

I’d recommend this book to anyone wanting a romance with heart and healing, who doesn’t mind a few steamy scenes.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Available now: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wallflower-Wager-irresistible-Regency-Governess-ebook/dp/B07NCS1DJ6/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?keywords=wallflower+wager&qid=1565886998&s=gateway&sprefix=wallflower+wager&sr=8-1
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Lovable engaging characters with romance, drama and fun makes for an enjoyable easy read.
My thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and the author for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
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At first, I thought this was going to be a lighthearted read and don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of humour. I had quite a few chuckles. However there is a serious side when Penny and Gabriel talk about their past. There were a number of heartfelt moments. I loved the motley collection of animals with all their peculiarities and the scene when the three men were helping the goat is well worth reading again! The main characters were extremely likeable and characters from previous books make a welcome appearance. I’m looking forward to Nicola’s story. I received a copy and have voluntarily reviewed it. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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I do love reading historical romances, especially the funny ones! Tessa Dare wrote one of my all-time favourites, When a Scot Ties the Knot, but this one comes a close second!

The Wallflower Wager is the third in the Girl Meets Duke series but it can also be read as a stand-alone. While the heroes of the first two books were a duke and a duke's heir, the hero of this one has Duke as his surname (a neat twist!). Being a self-made man also made a nice change!

Lady Penelope lives alone in a large house in London, apart from her servants, her elderly companion, and a positive menagerie of rescued animals. The house next door has been bought by Gabriel Duke, who intends to renovate it and sell it at a vast profit. While one huge selling point is the aristocratic neighbour (Lady Penelope) an equally huge minus is her mini-zoo. But the only way Penny will agree to part with her pets is if Gabe promises to find new owners for them. How hard can that be?

The thing I enjoy most about Tessa Dare's books are her lovable, engaging characters and their funny banter. I also loved Delilah the parrot - her language is a running joke throughout the book - and I thought the ending was a nice twist on what usually happens in romantic novels (no spoilers!).

Recommended if you love your historical romances modern, funny and sexy, and enjoy reading authors such as Julia Quinn and Lisa Kleypas. I thoroughly enjoyed The Wallflower Wager and have no hesitation in giving it five stars.


Thank you to Tessa Dare and Mills & Boon for my copy of this book, which I requested from NetGalley and reviewed voluntarily.
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Tessa Dare’s latest installment in her brilliant Girl Meets Duke series is the fantastic ‘The Wallflower Wager’ which made me laugh, made me cry, had me sitting on the edge of my seat, and needing to take a break to find a tall cool glass of water.
‘The Wallflower Wager’ tells the story of the charming Lady Penelope, Penny to her friends, and the broodingly curt Mr. Gabriel Duke. At the start of the story, they’ve recently found themselves to be new neighbors, something that could make Gabriel a lot of money, as long as all goes accordingly to plan. And, we all know how the best laid plans can go! Penny, along with her delightful menagerie simply want to stay in London. Gabriel needs Penny to stay in London for his plan to work, so tells her that he’ll achieve her miracle for her. Neither of them are quite prepared for the miracle that would be worked on the two of them! Dark pasts, loneliness, true friendship, seemingly insurmountable obstacles (sometimes a giant heap of coal!) and more stand in the way, and simultaneously signpost the emotional rollercoaster that is the journey to HEA that Gabriel and Penny take us on! The wonderful co-stars in the form of secondary characters from the two books already out in this series, and the upcoming book for the fourth lovely lady, Nicola, keep you engaged, and remind you why you already love all of them so dearly, and Gabriel and Penny add to that effortlessly!
I adored this story. It’s about people making the most of their circumstances whilst simultaneously not letting their circumstances dictate who they are, what they want, or who they wish to be. Though Gabriel and Penny deal with it in vastly different manners, at the end of the day, they are both looking for the same thing, and in the most delightful roundabout way, they find it together, though there are plenty of obstacles, misunderstandings, and rascal pets that get in the way! Besides, who doesn’t want a Delilah in their lives?
As I would with any and all of Tessa’s works, I highly and wholeheartedly recommend this book. I was invested from the very first page, and have no regrets about the fact that I’ll likely read it again within the next day! What are you waiting for?
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