Desert Isle Keeper
Wagering on the Wallflower
Wagering on the Wallflower is the first book in Eva Shepherd’s Young Victorian Ladies series. In it, Hazel Springfield, a highly intelligent but incredibly awkward young woman, is asked to dance by Mr. Lucas Darkwood, one of the wealthiest men in England and known among the ton as a womanizer. Hazel is stunned and believes Lucas has ulterior motives, but he ultimately convinces her he doesn’t. In truth, though, Lucas has made a wager that he can transform Hazel into a woman desired for more than her substantial dowry. In exchange, Lucas will receive a prized mare he has been unable to purchase. If he loses, however, Lucas will have to marry Hazel himself.
Hazel is content to enjoy Lucas’ attentions while telling herself he means nothing to her. She firmly believes he wants something from her wealthy father and has simply chosen a different tactic than most other men wanting the same. Just as she is starting to let her guard down though, she is told about the bet, and after discussing it with her sisters, Hazel decides the best course of action will be to make Lucas think she has indeed fallen in love with him and won’t marry anyone else. Hazel believes making Lucas think he will have to marry her after all will be the perfect punishment. But as she and Lucas spend more and more time together, each trying to achieve their own goals, they start to fall in love.
I loved this title from beginning to end; it has a She’s All That vibe to it that’s so much fun, and I enjoyed watching Lucas attempt to transform Hazel without being super obvious about it. There isn’t a lot of action to the story, but the romance more than makes up for that. The chemistry between Lucas and Hazel burns hot, so I was really looking forward to their love scene… which brings me to my one and only complaint about this title: the sex scene is fade-to-black. I didn’t know this going in, and I would probably have read the book anyway, even if I had known – it’s still a great romance. But because of the heat between Hazel and Lucas, I was disappointed the steam level was so low.
Hazel is my favorite kind of heroine: very smart and more than a little awkward, which is the main reason society gentlemen avoided her company. Well, that and because she has a tendency to step on the toes of her dancing partners! I enjoyed watching her become more sure of herself as the story progressed. And I always adore a hero who falls for the heroine despite his best attempts not to do so. Lucas does everything he can to try to stop himself from falling for Hazel and still succumbs.
Wagering on the Wallflower is a great introduction to Eva Shepherd’s work. It’s entertaining throughout with a hero and heroine who are easy to love. An actual sex scene would’ve been appreciated, but wasn’t necessary to make this a great read. I will certainly be reading the rest of the series!!