Bestseller James’s fun third Would-Be Wallflowers historical romance (after The Reluctant Countess) sets itself apart in the depth of its interpersonal complexities. Orphaned Lady Stella Corsham is decidedly not one of the incomparable beauties of her debut London season. An eccentric intellectual sporting spectacles, ill-suited clothes, and an unruly mop of red hair, she finds herself largely unaccompanied and wholly unimpressed by her prospects. Still, she longs for the love and admiration her fellow debutantes—especially the mysterious belle of every ball, Yasmin—attract. Silvester Parnell, Duke of Huntington, is the season’s biggest catch, and his indomitable mother is convinced that Stella is the only match for him, admiring her intelligence and backbone—but Silvester has his sights set on Yasmin. As his mother pushes Silvester and Stella together, the pair come to enjoy matching wits over rousing chess games, yet Silvester still doesn’t see Stella as a romantic partner—or so he tells himself. When he thinks he has competition for Stella’s affections, however, his own feelings become harder to deny. Though Stella’s self-pity grates through the first act, her steadily growing self-confidence is gratifying and her frank approach to her own sexual desires is refreshing. Lovers of historical romance will delight in these well-rounded, flawed characters learning to live their best lives. Agent: Kim Witherspoon, InkWell Management. (July)
The third smartly sexy and sharply witty addition to James’ Would Be Wallflowers series offers everything fans could hope for and expect from this romance genre luminary.” — Booklist
“Eloisa James writes with a captivating blend of charm, style, and grace that never fails to leave the reader sighing and smiling and falling in love. Her style is exquisite, her prose pure magic. Nothing gets me to a bookstore faster than a new novel by Eloisa James.” — Julia Quinn
“Bestseller James’s fun third Would-Be Wallflowers historical romance (after The Reluctant Countess) sets itself apart in the depth of its interpersonal complexities. Lovers of historical romance will delight in these well-rounded, flawed characters learning to live their best lives.” — Publishers Weekly
“This enemies-to-friends-to-lovers romance uses humor to show how a match that looks perfect on paper may be no match at all when it comes to chemistry… a compelling and delightful read. Enjoy this light and humorous historical romance.” — Library Journal
"The romance galaxy is filled with luminous stars, but few twinkle as brightly as James, who, with the launch of her Regency-set Would-Be Wallflowers series, once again dazzles readers with superbly conceived characters, a sublimely sensual love story, and sparkling wit." — Booklist (starred review) on How to Be a Wallflower
“James’s newest series won’t disappoint, with her signature abundance of banter, humorous situations, and strong-willed characters determined to have their way, creating sizzling sexual tension.” — Library Journal on How to Be a Wallflower
“Delivers the humor, charm, and historical richness that James’ readers adore.” — Kirkus Reviews on How to Be a Wallflower
“A charming story with a slow-burn romance that will brighten your day.” — Harlequin Junkie on How to Be a Wallflower
The third in James's "Would-Be Wallflowers" series (after The Reluctant Countess) pits a decidedly unconventional lady against a duke in search of the ideal wife. Lady Stella Corsham is unfashionable in every way: she's short, plump, bespectacled, redheaded, and opinionated. The only reason she has suitors at all is her generous dowry. Silvester Parnell, Duke of Huntington, is on the hunt for the perfect duchess: elegant, beautiful, well-mannered, and fashionable—a duchess like Lady Yasmin and utterly unlike Lady Stella, whom he laughingly calls "Specs." This enemies-to-friends-to-lovers romance uses humor to show how a match that looks perfect on paper may be no match at all when it comes to chemistry, and the eccentric ladies of the Would-Be Wallflowers demonstrate how being a true individual is the height of fashion. Although some may struggle to understand Silvester's single-minded pursuit of Yasmin long after developing affection for Stella, those who sit back and enjoy the ride are in for a compelling and delightful read. VERDICT Readers need not have read previous books in the series to enjoy this light and humorous historical romance.—Meagan Day
An affable, eligible duke thought he knew whom he wanted to marry until he finds himself unexpectedly falling for a bespectacled and bookish lady instead.
The dowager duchess may think Lady Stella Corsham would make a good match for her son, Silvester Parnell, Duke of Huntington, but he’s not interested in marrying an opinionated, eccentric woman like his mother. For her part, Stella can’t help her attraction to Silvester, but she knows he’d never consider her for a spouse—he’s more interested in slender, charming women like Lady Yasmin Régnier. Stella wants someone who would appreciate her intellect, like Giles Renwick, the Earl of Lilford. Still, Stella and Silvester become friends, and Silvester starts to appreciate Stella’s appeal. When Yasmin and Giles marry each other, Silvester realizes he wants to marry Stella, but she doesn’t want to feel like the second choice. A note at the beginning of the book explains that Part I overlaps with the time frame of The Reluctant Countess (2022), which focused on Yasmin and Giles. It stands on its own, although it might be more appreciated by those already familiar with the characters. Interpersonal relationships are the core of this low-stakes story; drama derives from miscommunications and incorrect assumptions as the characters socialize and attend balls and parties. The characters, particularly Stella and her kitten, are the highlight, but they’re let down by a narrative that feels disjointed. Pacing can be sluggish, as some scenes feel overly drawn out or superfluous.
A delightful heroine in a tedious story.