If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all. - Oscar Wilde
We shouldn't teach great books; we should teach a love of reading. - B. F. Skinner
No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting. - Mary Wortley Montagu

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Review: What a Wallflower Wants by Maya Rodale / @TastyBookTours @mayarodale

Title: Bad Boys & Wallflowers #3: What a Wallflower Wants
Author: Maya Rodale
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: September 30, 2014
Genre: Historical, Romance
ARC Received From: Edelweiss
Reviewed For: Tasty Book Tours

In the third novel in Maya Rodale’s charming Wallflower series, London’s Least Likely to Be Caught in a Compromising Position finds temptation in a devilishly handsome stranger . . .

Miss Prudence Merryweather Payton has a secret.

Everyone knows that she’s the only graduate from her finishing school to remain unwed on her fourth season-but no one knows why. With her romantic illusions shattered after being compromised against her will, Prudence accepts a proposal even though her betrothed is not exactly a knight in shining armor. When he cowardly pushes her out of their stagecoach to divert a highwayman, she vows never to trust another man again.

John Roark, Viscount Castleton, is nobody’s hero.

He’s a blue-eyed charmer with a mysterious past and ambitious plans for his future-that do not include a wife. When he finds himself stranded at a country inn with a captivating young woman, a delicate dance of seduction ensues. He knows he should keep his distance. And he definitely shouldn’t start falling in love with her.

When Prudence’s dark past comes back to haunt her, John must protect her-even though he risks revealing his own secrets that could destroy his future.

Other books in this series

(Reviewer's Note: This story deals with the topic of rape through memory and retelling. It is addressed in my review. Please take this into consideration before reading further, and before purchasing this book.)

The opening chapter of this story lays the groundwork for the chapters that follow. It doesn't pave the way for a story about a woman who lives in constant fear though. It paves the way for a woman who was horrendously assaulted, her life afterward, and how she overcame the darkness that had plagued her for too many years.

Prudence is a very strong female protagonist. Her strength is quiet, subtle, a wrinkle beneath the surface of her otherwise paranoid countenance. To others, she comes across as shy, an introvert, a true wallflower. To John, she was a woman who needed to know and understand she was not at fault for that terrible night, and neither was she as weak as she thought or felt. She lived in fear of Lord Dudley, The Beast, the man who raped her, and the memory of what he did. She felt used and useless, condemned and forgotten. She wasn't any of those things, but she didn't know that. It took a man who understood to help her see that.

John and Prudence's relationship was sweet and slow. It needed to be. John understood Prudence's fear because his sister suffered the same fate. His knowledge helped him gauge what he could and couldn't do with Prue. He let her choose instead. That, I believe, was crucial to their relationship. Having her innocence stolen wasn't her choice so he gave her the power to decide everything about their intimacy. It's what gave me hope that all would end well when their world fell apart.

Ms. Rodale's handling of Prue's rape was wonderfully done. It wasn't devoid of emotion or addressed with indifference, but it was spoken of and remembered with fear, self-loathing, and resignation. It pained me to read how low Prue thought of herself. But it gave me great joy to read how highly John thought of her.

John's past was a huge mystery for most of this story. It wasn't until almost three-fourths of the way through that his true identity was revealed. The repercussions for his decisions came full-force and nearly cost him Prue. To be honest, I didn't hate him for lying. I didn't condone it either but I was glad his secret wasn't something worse. And I really admired him for finding and telling Prue the truth. He could've fled, left her to wonder what happened, but he manned up and set the record straight. Any future they could have would depend on Prue and what she decided concerning him.

Despite the heaviness of Prue's rape, this was a surprisingly light read. Sex scenes were minimal; character building was maximized. Ms. Rodale did a great job showing John and Prue's growth. The man and woman standing at the end of the story were a far cry from the ones I met at the beginning. Their former selves were shadows by then, no longer detriments to what could be but reminders of how far they had come.

Maya Rodale began reading romance novels in college at her mother’s insistence and it wasn’t long before she was writing her own. Maya is now the author of multiple Regency historical romances. She lives in New York City with her darling dog and a rogue of her own.