The Perks of Loving a Wallflower by Erica Ridley The Wild Wynchesters #2 Historical Romance October 26, 2021 by Forever Reviewed by Kate
The Perks of Loving a Wallflower is a lovely historical romance with two female main characters. This is the second in The Wild Wynchesters series, but I do not think the first (The Duke Heist) is necessary to enjoy this one. I would recommend The Duke Heist, however, and reading it first may give the reader some additional context which could make this installment more enjoyable.
The Perks of Loving a Wallflower stars Thomasina (known as Tommy) Wynchester, and Philippa York. Both characters were prominent in The Duke Heist, Philippa especially as the former fiance of the titular duke. I feel the description of Loving a Wallflower is a bit misleading – the issue Philippa is dealing with is that a member of her reading circle has created a cipher that was used by the military, and now that member’s uncle is receiving credit for it, including a title and land. Philippa wants to ensure that the correct person receives credit (the young woman in her reading circle) and Tommy, and the rest of the Wynchesters, step in to assist.
By the beginning of Loving a Wallflower, Tommy has admired Philippa for a year, but only interacted with her as “Great-Aunt Wynchester” and one disastrous occasion as Thomasina, when Tommy froze and ran away instead of speaking to Philippa at a ball. Tommy’s talents lie toward disguising herself as many different kinds of people, and so she disguises herself as the “heir” of the late Baron who took Tommy and all of her siblings in, as an excuse to get close to Philippa.
One of my favorite things about Loving a Wallflower is that Tommy tells Philippa right away that she’s not Baron Vanderbean, but instead that she’s Tommy, or rather Thomasina, and that she’s a woman. (Though it is noted multiple times that Tommy feels like “both and neither” with regards to being a man or a woman, which I took to mean nonbinary in today’s terms, but that is only my reading of it. Also, Tommy uses female pronouns throughout.) I appreciated this reveal of the “big secret” early on because it makes me much less stressed reading the book, and it really felt like Philippa and Tommy were “partners in crime,” instead of Tommy having to hide who she was from Philippa.
Philippa had concerns that she wasn’t able to feel love the same way that other people did, because she never felt those kinds of feelings about the men that courted her. However, by Tommy telling Philippa early that Tommy was playing the part of the Baron, it allowed Philippa to explore those feelings she starts having for Tommy, and begin to understand why she may not have felt them for the men in her life before. I very much enjoyed this character progression and the way that storyline played out.
The additional plot of the cipher and the books was fun, but it certainly did not take as much of a center stage as the heist plotline in The Duke Heist, and on occasion felt like a bit of an afterthought. I felt this book had a lot more focus on the couple, in this case Tommy and Philippa, and I loved every minute of it. These two are adorably sweet together, and also have a ridiculous amount of chemistry. As they work to resolve the issue of the credit-stealing uncle and the further mystery around the books that the cipher is based off of, they make a great team, and Philippa learns a lot about herself and expands her view of what is possible for her life. My only complaint about the characters is that I feel Philippa ends up compromising more than Tommy with regards to what she thought her life would be like. I think they do a good job overall of coming to see each others’ points of view, but the solution at the end is rather sudden and I wasn’t sure I was totally convinced of Phillipa’s quick change of heart involved.
Loving a Wallflower also feels lower stakes than The Duke Heist. For example, at the end, Philippa’s parents, who have been trying to marry her off the whole book, and have a somewhat adversarial relationship with her, are partially redeemed and their conflict is resolved with what feels like fairly little drama. And while there’s nothing wrong with lower stakes, I do think it may have contributed to my feeling that the book dragged a bit at times. There were certainly parts which I thought could maybe have been tightened up some to maintain momentum.
Overall, however, I really enjoyed The Perks of Loving a Wallflower, and if the epilogue is any indication, there is more to come of the Wynchesters, which I am looking forward to!
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