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ARC Review: How to Be a Wallflower by Eloisa James

Publication Date: March 29, 2022

Synopsis:

From New York Times bestseller Eloisa James, a new Regency-set novel in which a heiress with the goal of being a wallflower engages a rugged American in a scorchingly sensual, witty wager that tests whether clothing does indeed make the man—or the wallflower!

Miss Cleopatra Lewis is about to be launched in society by her aristocratic grandfather. But since she has no intention of marrying, she visits a costume emporium specifically to order unflattering dresses guaranteed to put off any prospective suitors.

Powerful and charismatic Jacob Astor Addison is in London, acquiring businesses to add to his theatrical holdings in America—as well as buying an emerald for a young lady back in Boston. He’s furious when a she-devil masquerading as an English lady steals Quimby’s Costume Emporium from under his nose.

Jake strikes a devil’s bargain, offering to design her “wallflower wardrobe” and giving Cleo the chance to design his. Cleo can’t resist the fun of clothing the rough-hewn American in feathers and flowers. And somehow in the middle of their lively competition, Jake becomes her closest friend.

It isn’t until Cleo becomes the toast of all society that Jake realizes she’s stolen his fiercely guarded heart. But unlike the noblemen at her feet, he doesn’t belong in her refined and cultured world.

Caught between the demands of honor and desire, Jake would give up everything to be with the woman he loves—if she’ll have him!

My Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This was my first book by Eloisa James and it shan’t be my last. It was an amusing and engaging romp and I enjoyed it a lot. The characters were relatable and sympathetic, the side characters quite amusing, and the premise just absurd enough to inject quite a lot of humor and shake up the typical regency romance plot.

I greatly enjoyed hearing about Cleo’s mother and seeing her work through her grief and mixed feelings. I also enjoyed the wardrobes Cleo and Jake created for one another — and especially Byng’s joyful and colorful takeover of the designs. Cleo and Jake’s closeness and respect for one another was also quite wonderful.

The plot at times felt a bit thin, and the ending a bit contrived. Also, Cleo got over her shame and humiliation just a little too fast to be believable. It felt a bit like the story had to hurry up and conclude within a certain page count.

Overall though, a highly enjoyable read and I recommend it. I also look forward to the sequel(s).

*Thanks to NetGalley and Avon for providing an e-arc for review.

Favorite Quotes:

She loathed stubborn men: they were so often underqualified and overpresumptuous.

They were a wild and undisciplined people who wouldn’t agree to pay taxes, even for tea. They’d rather drink coffee, simply to avoid taxes.

Which said about everything that needed to be said, given that coffee was a vile drink that tasted like fusty beans.

ARC Review: Mistletoe Christmas by Eloisa James, Christi Caldwell, Janna MacGregor, Erica Ridley

Book Cover

Synopsis:

From four beloved writers—Eloisa James, Christi Caldwell, Janna MacGregor, and Erica Ridley—comes a hilarious tale of a Christmas house party that serves up love and scandal in equal measure!

The Duke of Greystoke’s Christmas Revelry is famous throughout the British Isles for its plays, dancing, magical grotto… not to mention scandals leading to the marriage licenses he hands out like confetti.

But not everyone welcomes a visit from Cupid.

Lady Cressida, the duke’s daughter, is too busy managing the entertainments—and besides, her own father has called her dowdy. Her cousin, Lady Isabelle Wilkshire, is directing Cinderella and has no interest in marriage. Lady Caroline Whitmore is already (unhappily) married; the fact that she and her estranged husband have to pretend to be together just makes her dread the party all the more.  But not as much as Miss Louisa Harcourt, whose mother bluntly tells her that this is her last chance to escape the horrors of being an old maid.

A house party so large, that mothers lose track of their charges, leads to a delightful, seductive quartet of stories that you will savor for the Season!

My Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This was an excellent anthology. I really enjoyed the theme of four stories set at the same house party and the different styles of the four authors. Romance Novellas can feel lacking because the love story has to happen in so few words, but these felt very substantial and I didn’t feel anything was missing.

The first story, A Mistletoe Kiss by Eloisa James, was sweet and enjoyable. I loved Cressie and her scatterbrained disregard of her own appearance but meticulous care in orchestrating her father’s grand Revelry. 4 stars

The second story, Wishing Under the Mistletoe by Christy Caldwell, started even better than the first. It was going to be a 5 star story for me until the sex scene which made me cringe. Not my style of writing there. I did really enjoy the second chance romance, the characters, and the writing of the rest of the story. 4.5 stars

The third, Compromise Under the Mistletoe by Janna MacGregor was… not to my taste. It was boring, the writing style was a touch clumsy, and I didn’t connect with or care for the characters at all. I dnfed this one. 2 stars

The fourth made the entire anthology worth it. I love Erica Ridley’s works and this was no exception. I feel like she packed more details and plot into her story than any of the others, and I connected best with her writing style. I loved Ewan and Louisa was delightful, and their secrets and connection despite them made it a very enjoyable read. 5 stars

*thanks to NetGalley and Avon & Harper Voyager for providing an e-arc for review.