The Wallflower Wager

A menagerie is the perfect tool of seduction. Or not. Lady Penelope has a soft heart for every injured and broken creature she comes across – including her brooding, grouchy new neighbor.

Gabriel Duke is called the “Duke of Ruin” for a reason. It is a well-earned moniker that he works hard to uphold. He has a plan – and it doesn’t include a foul-mouthed parrot or its naïve owner. He is flipping a manor, and he needs the neighborhood surrounding it to reflect a certain somber character. The bedlam of animals next door is an obstacle he is determined to surmount. Plans are easily laid awry, though, and soon his thoughts and his attentions are scattered to the four winds by a persistent woman determined to take him under her wing.

They make a bargain. Penelope will relinquish her beloved pets if he will find them homes.

*Bixby, a two-legged terrier.
*Marigold, a nanny goat of unimpeachable character, who is definitely not breeding.
*Angus, a three-year-old Highland steer.
*Regan, Goneril, and Cordelia- laying hens.
*Delilah, a parrot.
*Hubert, an otter.
*Freya, a hedgehog.
*Thirteen kittens of varying colors and dispositions.

She gives him a booklet of instructions that is daunting, baffling and bewitching, and reveals as much about Penelope as it does about her wards.

She is an enigma to him. She doesn’t know that her parrot came from a bawdy house, and completely misinterprets his extensive vocabulary. Gabriel enlightens her in the best of ways, but her kisses become the one things he craves above all else, the balm to his weary soul.

I laughed aloud. I cried. I wanted more at the end. Tessa Dare’s books always wreck me – and this one was no exception.

5 Stars.

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