I’m so excited to share with you today an excerpt from Eloisa James’s new release HOW TO BE A WALLFLOWER. This is the first book in the Would-Be Wallflowers series, and it’s a swoon-worthy historical romance! I adored the characters, and the love story is off the charts. Let’s check it out!
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
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!
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Thinking faster than he had in his entire life, he said, “You claim that the British are fair, and I claim the same for Americans. I have an idea. You will order my wardrobe from Quimby’s, in bright colors. I will order yours, in half mourning.”
She shook her head. “Why on earth would I allow you to order my clothing? Let alone do the same for you?”
“Because it would be fair, Cleo. We’ll spar like the honorable people we are: I will try to win Quimby’s for you, and you will try to win Quimby’s for me.”
“That’s utterly absurd! You seem to be overlooking the fact that I have already won the emporium.”
He had to admit that she had a point, but he was playing a double game: he no longer gave a damn about Quimby’s. He needed a reason to see Cleo: a solid reason that would give him the time and space to win a woman who seemed damned near unwinnable—because she couldn’t be courted by conventional means. At the moment, if he asked her to dance, she would conclude that he was trying to cozen her into giving up Quimby’s.
“Martha deserves a chance to decide whether she prefers to use her imagination, clothing everything from fairies to monarchs,” he said. “If your plan succeeds, she’ll spend much of her time measuring tiresome young women whose ambitions don’t match up to reality. How many viscounts are available to marry fishmongers’ daughters?”
Her brows drew together.
“It would be equitable,” he added, keeping his gaze somber without a hint of desire. Though he felt it, all right. Carnal desire gripped his limbs, but he refused to reveal it. “I will use fair means to convince Martha Quimby that clothing the gentry is tiresome. When ordering your clothing, I will give her the opportunity to create a wardrobe that befits a duchess.”
Cleo pressed her lips together. “I want to be a wallflower, and I plan to order clothing that will match my ambition.”
Jake’s mouth fell open. She pictured herself a wallflower? Not even layers of gray fabric could disguise her, any more than livery was disguising him. “You can’t ask Martha Quimby for a miracle!”
She gave him a perplexed look. “There’s nothing miraculous about it. I don’t care to be the center of attention, that’s all. Some women wear gowns that are translucent. My mother—” She broke off. “I don’t want to look naked, and I shall never dampen my petticoats.”
“I wouldn’t order such a gown,” Jake promised, revolted by the idea of men leering at her legs.
Cleo raised both eyebrows this time. Damn it, who ever imagined that a woman’s eyebrows were erotic? But hers were: winged, slender, derisive, thoughtful.
His control slipped another notch. He bent his head until his breath feathered over her lips. “Cleo.”
She met his eyes, fearless, amused. Desirous.
“Have you ever been kissed by a servant, Queen Cleopatra?”
“Never.” She didn’t move.
“Your mouth doesn’t match your dress,” he whispered. “Dress severe, lips plump and generous. Dress stern, mouth curving and delicious. Dress dismal, lips colorful, rosy.”
Her lips curled. “You do know adjectives, it seems!”
“A few.” His lips touched hers. “Irresistible.”
She drew in a breath, and he followed the air, his tongue sliding into her warm mouth. He let his hands settle on her narrow shoulders, not pulling her closer, just holding her, making her the still point in a spinning world.
About the Author:
New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James writes historical romances for HarperCollins Publishers. Her novels have been published to great acclaim. A reviewer from USA Today wrote of Eloisa’s very first book that she “found herself devouring the book like a dieter with a Hershey bar”; later People Magazine raved that “romance writing does not get much better than this.” Her novels have repeatedly received starred reviews from Publishers’ Weekly and Library Journal and regularly appear on the best-seller lists.
After graduating from Harvard University, Eloisa got an M.Phil. from Oxford University, a Ph.D. from Yale and eventually became a Shakespeare professor, publishing an academic book with Oxford University Press. Currently she is an associate professor and head of the Creative Writing program at Fordham University in New York City. Her “double life” is a source of fascination to the media and her readers. In her professorial guise, she’s written a New York Times op-ed defending romance, as well as articles published everywhere from women’s magazines such as More to writers’ journals such as the Romance Writers’ Report.