Avon Impulse, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-06-257240-0
Historical Romance, 2017
On paper, How to Woo a Wallflower doesn’t seem so bad. Clarissa Ruthven only wants to help the poor and downtrodden women of the bad side of town, while Gabriel Adamson only wants to forget that he was born poor and downtrodden in that bad side of town. Given that none of them have a title, this one looks like a genuine tale of activism and what not, without the disingenuous take home of message of how socialists find a happy ending by marrying a member of the aristocracy and finding true happiness in the process.
In reality, the execution of this story is a hot mess that only the most spoiled and entitled millennial brat stereotype can relate to. Clarissa has no marketable talent but acts like working her own way is a terrible notion, instead she is banking on inheriting daddy’s money so that she can do whatever she wants in life. She isn’t an activist, she comes off as merely role-playing as one as what she really wants is to get lots of money so that she is free to do her own thing. Alas, her father left her plenty of money alright… as her dowry. She can only get the money if she waits until she is twenty-five and is still unmarried then. That will not do! Oh, pout.
Gabriel is worse. He has a huge Pangaea-sized chip on his shoulders, and that chip is shaped like a penis because that’s what he is: a big dick to everyone here, just because he was born poor and he didn’t get what he want like, right away, oh pout. He is rude and behaves like a boor to everyone in his default mode, and treats Clarissa like an enemy just because she is his boss once she turns 21, and he can’t have that because heaven forbid a rich person become a boss of him, and therefore, he’d be a jerk to all and sundry. He also carries with him an air of supreme condescension over everyone, as if he was born better than you and I, and then he has the added charm of being a dumbass. He quits his job in a huff and expects to be given a new job right away, only to go into “Bring me a guillotine to behead the rich people!” mode when the boss of the other company basically laughs at his face and tells him to go rim his own rear end orifice. How dare people don’t give him what he wants just because he expects them to!
Therefore, if the title of this book were to be taken as an honest question, the answer is apparently (a) be hot, and (b) be as big a jerk as you want because the wallflower finds you so hot that you can do whatever and she’d still be hanging on. Lovely.
Both the hero and heroine behave as if the world owed it to them to hand everything over on a silver platter. Why? I have no idea, but I do know that I entertain the fantasy that I am Thanos quite often while reading this story, wondering pleasantly which one of them I would turn into dust in my quest to halve the population of the galaxy. I settled on Clarissa, but only because Adam has a sister who apparently relied on him to bring home the bread, while Clarissa’s erasure from existence wouldn’t really make any difference to anyone. The best solution is to turn these two into dust, collect the dust into an urn, and then use the urn as a urinal for the dogs because that’s exactly what these two deserve.
For a while I believe the author is on to these two, as she has several side characters unerringly point out the nonsense of our hero and heroine, but she than invalidates these characters by making them the bad guys.
As usual, the narrative is clean, and this one is okay from a technical standpoint, but I will not shed any tear if Clarissa or Gabriel were to be fatally run down by a carriage, and I would shed tears of joy if that happened to the two of them. Two oogies, and that’s because today is a holiday and I am feeling a bit more zen than usual.