Wallflower Most Wanted

Wallflower Most Wanted

Studies in Scandal #3

Manda Collins

St. Martin’s Press, Jan 2018

320 pages, ebook, paperback

Historical Romance

⭐⭐⭐⭐

I was provided a complimentary ARC of this book by St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley. This is my honest review for which I am not being compensated in any way.

Since this is the third book in the series, I’m going to give you some back story to bring you into the picture, though it’s not needed to be able to read this book. This could be a stand-alone, but I love the whole story and intend to get the previous two books and the fourth one when it comes out this summer.

So, for the back story. Lady Celeste Beauchamp leaves her home, Beauchamp House to four bluestockings she has chosen. In case you aren’t familiar with that term, a bluestocking is a woman who isn’t involved in the regular womanly arts such as needlework, simple music, and watercolor or taking care of her family and home, but who partakes in more advanced arts such as oil painting of serious subjects; who reads books particularly those in the realm of what is considered to be manly subjects; who are active in fields of study or activity that are traditionally set aside for the male of our species such as archeology or any scientific study. Or any woman who reads more than just the Bible and the fashion newspapers and perhaps a woman’s romance or two in a year. Lady Celeste has chosen four such young ladies to inherit Beauchamp House. They must reside there for one year. The one to stay the longest within that year gets the house in the end. So we have Ivy Wareham, who is an extremely intelligent young woman. Lady Celeste leaves her the clues to be able to solve Lady Celeste’s own murder. She is book one with Quill Beauchamp, the Marquess of Kerr. Secondly, we have Lady Daphne Forsyth who is an advanced mathematician who enjoys puzzles. To her, Lady Celeste leaves the start to solve the Cameron Cipher. She is book two with Dalton Beauchamp, Duke of Maitland. Both of these gentlemen are nephews of Lady Celeste. That brings us to our own young woman, Sophie Hastings, who is an advanced oil painter. To her, Lady Celeste has left 6 paintings and a note regarding forgeries. But the note seems to be missing. She has the assistance of the vicar, Reverend Lord Benedict Lisle. And lastly, we have Gemma Hastings, a geologist and Sophia’s sister, whose book comes out this summer. She tangles with Lord Camden Lisle, a fossil hunter and the vicar’s brother in this book. We don’t yet know what will happen in her book, but she’s a feisty one, so it’s sure to be good.

Okay, so back to Sophia Hastings and the vicar. We start out intently painting the morning light on the cliffs over the beach very early one morning. So intent is Sophia, in the zone one might say, that she is quite startled when she hears a man’s voice behind her. She is startled right off the cliff and tumbles 10 feet down to land badly on her foot and sprains her ankle. The vicar just happens to be at hand for assistance. They both hear the two men talking about getting someone out of the way. Then the vicar carries our damaged painter up the beach stairs, across the lawn, and up to the house where she can be tended. Neither one of these two is in the habit of being this close to members of the opposite sex, so this closeness sort of gets thoughts and blood moving, which both of them try to ignore. Sophia is sure she’s be a lousy vicar’s wife and the vicar is quite sure she’s not interested in being one. Neither one of them really has a sense of just how attractive they are to the opposite gender either. But, of course, as this is a romance, she’s already quite aware of him as an extremely handsome specimen of his gender, and he’s definitely spotted her as the loveliest lady.

As this book has not been published yet, I’m not going to be as revealing as I typically am in a review. Suffice to say that the author takes us to a ball with a bad announcement for our side. There’s more sneaking around. And the vicar does get to carry sweet Sophia around a couple of more times, which they are both coming to really enjoy. In fact, it’s really getting out of hand more than a bit. Ben’s brothers pop in and out a time or two, and his father makes an appearance long enough to approve of Sophia. But Ben’s Bishop doesn’t. All four of our young heiresses get involved in the mystery of the forgeries, but in the end, it’s just Sophia and Ben who work out what’s going on. And, of course, they do it the hard way. Sophia gets grabbed by someone she thought she could trust and Ben has to save her. In the end, they marry by special license signed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, a friend of Ben’s father, the Duke.

The pace is pretty fast throughout, but at times feels a bit too fast for what’s happening. The tension starts off with a pop over a cliff and then slowly builds until the end. The characters from the previous books were left as is, but the new ones were done up really well. We even get a preview of what Gemma is like for the next book. Even Morgan, the nasty industrialist was well-done. The guy you love to hate, right? And you had to love Ben, he was just so cute. Sophia was good, too, but there were moments when I felt the character wasn’t sure what she was supposed to be. She’s supposed to be a very confident, forthright young woman and there were several times she just sort of sat there and didn’t seem to know what to do. I wish the cover had revealed more of what the story was about, possibly her painting at the cliff or Ben carrying her since that happened so often and became such a joke.

Next book One for the Rogue #4 out this summer.

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