From a marriage masquerade…
…to his bride for real!
Viscount’s son Barrett prefers building his empire to securing a bride—and a wager to spend a week in sheltered Annie Carson’s family home won’t change that! But Barrett doesn’t expect Annie to be so captivating, and when she runs away to find her scandalous sister he must bring her home. To protect innocent Annie’s reputation they pretend to be married! Will Barrett lose the wager…and win his wallflower?
This is an interesting story that is far more complex than you initially think, which is what I love about Ms Tyner’s work, she takes what is a very basic trope and storyline and gives it a twist and it ends up being fresh and new. To Win A Wallflower is no different, at first glance it does appear to be a basic marriage of convenience story; rake meets wallflower they find themselves in questionable circumstances only to end up married. Yes, this does go along those lines but this is something else, when I first started reading I did think that I had read the back blurb of a different book and I did become slightly perplex as to where the story was going. But that is only because the story starts off in such a different way to what we have come to expect from this trope and I am very happy to say once I got to know the character’s and why the story started as it did, it all fell into place nicely as we got into the story. And that story ended up being playful, heart-warming, emotional and witty.
The story opens where Viscount’s Barrett is staying with the Carson family for the week under the illusion of forging an alliance in business. But his real motives for being there is because he has been told that the daughter is one of the most beautiful women that society has ever seen – or in her case, not seen. But his actual motives for being there is to win a wager he has with his brother, a wager if won will give him some rest from his drunk, bullying father. But in order to win he must spend the full week under the same roof as Annie Carson and more than that not touch her, and prove he is more interested in building his business empire than gaining a wife. All goes well, that is until he finally sets eyes upon the illusive Annie, one glimpse of a bracelet clad wrist and the sound of a tinkling laugh makes the cold and focused Barrett feel thing’s he never thought he could, she makes him want to care for someone deserving.
He becomes captivated by her, she is the most innocent and pure thing he has ever laid eyes upon and when he comes to terms with his unrelenting attraction her, Annie decides to break away from her suffocating life and flee to her scandalous sister. He may act uncaring and a little rakish but he is a gentleman which is why as soon as he hears Annie has fled he is the first to go after her. It is here when the real fun starts and the story grabs you, as to not cause scandal they must put on a charade of them being married.
Annie is treated like a little show doll, only to be allowed out to show her off, only allowed to go out with her controlling parent’s and never on her own, only allowed to meet and socialize strictly approved person’s. She misses her sisters, she is lonely and wants more than what she has. Which is why she decides to run away, only problem with that is she is so naive and innocent she has no idea of the way of the world and the dangers everywhere. Even though the most dangerous thing is the devilishly attractive man who has turned up to take her back to her parents. Who she knows as soon as they get their hands on her she will be back in the attic never to see daylight again.
I love Barrett, he is so different to how we see aristocrat’s, he is a man who is trying to distance himself from his cruel up-bringing, trying to make something of himself that doesn’t involve being who he is supposed to be in the eyes of the ton – and in the eyes of his manipulative, drunk of a father. Really that man is vile, the way he treats everyone around him and especially his son is terrible and yet he is one of those kind of men who think that just because they have a title they think that they can do and act however they like. Grrr I do hate those people! Barrett may act the ultimate rake but there is a real vulnerability beneath that cold mask, he is a man who doesn’t allow any to get too close to him and yet when he does lower his defences he is utterly charming.
I felt so much sympathy for Annie she is well and truly a porcelain doll who is cloistered away never to be seen by anyone other than family. They lean on her way too much and have taken full control of her life. Every aspect of her life is controlled from who she sees, where she goes, what she wears, what she eats when to go to bed and so on, in a way it’s a form of abuse and personally the faster she gets away from these people the better. I have never met such an innocent woman before, you can feel her frustration at her life she wants to do what is right but she also wants to live she is confused by her mixed emotions and suddenly there is this big, handsome, irritating man who wants to take her back to the very place she is fleeing from. And yet this man is kind and caring, if a bit of the abrupt side and at times he doesn’t act like a gentleman but she likes how he makes her feel something other than a little girl, how he treats her like a lady other than a doll. It is that which really makes me love Barrett, the moment he meets her he sees that she is so innocent and he tries to teach her how to be more human, more self-reliant and I really like that.
Over all this is a lovely and original romance, it did start off a bit on the slow side and I was a bit confused as to what was going on in the chapter, but other than that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Once the story got going it was surprisingly imaginative and complex, for me the moment where Barrett rescues after she flees is the turning point. I loved the scene where they are walking back, his anger and frustration at her is so palpable. He is broody, grumpy, monosyllabic and utterly fascinating.
Don’t let the initial bumpy start put you off from finishing this book, as it is well worth persevering with as once our couple are alone together there is a lot of great moments between them.
This was an Arc copy via the author in exchange for an honest review.
To Win A Wallflower is to released on 24 January and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.