Release Date: Oct 27, 2020
Series: Wallflowers vs Rogues
Heat Level: Hot
Imprint: Avon Books
Bell’s latest is the start of a spinoff series from The School for Dukes Trilogy. It’s still set in the same universe and pits one of my favorite tropes, Wallflowers, against another favorite, Rogues.
The first story is also almost a breath of fresh air as rogues aren’t typically dukes, and this hero, Stamford Wright is not a ton dandy. Nope, Stamford is a Navy man and a carpenter. His father is employed by our heroine’s older brother, a duke, and that’s how these two meet. Facing off amid construction on her brother’s estate.
It’s frustration at first sight. With our scarred, word-loving heroine, Beatrice, trying to focus on her dictionary creation only to be thwarted by Stamford’s constant construction noise. This leads to a meeting of the minds and draws attention to potential attraction. Except, Stamford is no one, not even a member of gentry. Definitely not an appropriate pick for a duke’s daughter.
These two continue to tangle up due to circumstances that play out around Beatrice inheriting a bookshop from her mother’s estranged sister and needing to save it from a horrible businessman. Forced proximity with a gender twist on Beauty and the Beast keep this story fresh and flowing.
Adding in plenty of mischief, on Beatrice’s part, are her friends in The Mayfair Ladies’ Knitting Society, a front for women looking to pursue hobbies and knowledge in careers and areas closed off to women. They keep Beatrice grounded and also encourage her to take risks, which include spending too much time with Stamford. Our hero is hilarious as he gets tangled up with Beatrice and roped into her plans, but he can’t help being drawn to her. The woman who wants a world that’s the opposite of what her mother wants for her.
For Bell fans, there are plenty of visits and mentions of previous book characters. There’s the same delicious dialogue and presentation of intrigue along with romantic and external conflict that seems insurmountable. I really enjoyed how the resolution plays out in this story and am eager for the next book already. You can’t go wrong with a good historical romance with a touch of whimsy, hidden books, a bonnet that butchers Shakespeare, and kisses that alter the definition of worthy pursuits.