Book Review: How to Be a Wallflower by Eloisa James

About the Book:

Title: How to Be a Wallflower

Author: Eloisa James

Series: Would-Be Wallflowers #1

Page Length: 384

Publication Date: March 29, 2022

Publisher: Avon

Synopsis: 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!

LINKS:   Goodreads   |    Amazon

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My Review:

How to Be a Wallflower is a fun and unique historical romance and the first in a series that follows women who are determined to be wallflowers. The story follows Cleopatra Lewis, who is about to be announced into society by her grandfather, and Jake Astor Addison, an American who makes Cleo an offer she can’t refuse.

I loved Cleo and Jake and thought they had amazing chemistry! Jake’s an American, and Cloe’s a businesswoman, so both are on the fringes of polite society.  Accepted because of their affluence and influence but not wholly embraced, they both see through the vapid machinations of many of their peers. Cleo and Jake have electrifying chemistry, and their banter throughout the story is fabulous.  They are comfortable with each other very fast, considering they are both competing for the same woman’s business, and I love the way they tease and have fun with each other. They have an instant spark that only grows bigger and stronger as the story progresses.  

Jake faces his feelings well before Cleo and spends much of the story trying to convince her to take a chance on their love, which I totally loved. Cloe doesn’t need or want a man, and she is quite successful without one. She has nothing to prove to anyone, and Jake loves her for it.  Cleo struggles to open herself up to love after seeing her mother’s tumultuous and ever-changing love affairs. 

I like how Jake slowly woos Cleo and shows her how strongly he feels for her, and it’s interesting to see if they let fear, miscommunication, and competitiveness stand in their way.  And the depth of Jake’s love is super swoon-worthy! He is so enraptured by Cleo and admires so much about her, and he’s not afraid to show it. He especially proves this when they make an outlandish bet that leads to some super funny moments and some beautifully romantic scenes.  

The secondary characters in the story are also fantastic.  I love Lulu, the woman who sells Jake flowers. She is sharp and smart, and her sense of humor is great.  Cleo’s grandfather and his friend are dynamic and fun, and I love their meddling ways.  Even Cleo’s mother, who died a year before the start of the story, is well developed and has a strong voice.  These characters add levity, humor, and many heartwarming moments to the story.

I enjoyed Cleo and Jake’s story.  It is a wonderful historical romance with great characters and a swoon-worthy love story, and it’s a great start to Eloisa James’s new series!  I would definitely recommend the book to lovers of historical romance and am thankful to NetGalley, Avon Books, and the author for providing me a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.


Favorite Parts:

  • The romance!
  • The banter.
  • The secondary characters.

Favorite Line:

Polite conversation is overreliant on fawning compliments.

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