In the third novel in Maya Rodale's charming Wallflower series, London's Least Likely to Be Caught in a Compromising Position finds temptation in a devilishly handsome stranger . . .
Miss Prudence Merryweather Payton has a secret.
Everyone knows that she's the only graduate from her finishing school to remain unwed on her fourth season—but no one knows why. With her romantic illusions shattered after being compromised against her will, Prudence accepts a proposal even though her betrothed is not exactly a knight in shining armor. When he cowardly pushes her out of their stagecoach to divert a highwayman, she vows never to trust another man again.
John Roark, Viscount Castleton, is nobody's hero.
He's a blue-eyed charmer with a mysterious past and ambitious plans for his future—that do not include a wife. When he finds himself stranded at a country inn with a captivating young woman, a delicate dance of seduction ensues. He knows he should keep his distance. And he definitely shouldn't start falling in love with her.
When Prudence's dark past comes back to haunt her, John must protect her—even though he risks revealing his own secrets that could destroy his future.
Rodale's third Bad Boys and Wallflowers Regency (after Wallflower Gone Wild) includes a sensitive portrayal of the emotional effects of sexual assault. Prudence Payton, London's Least Likely to be Caught in a Compromising Position, has embraced her wallflower status after being assaulted during her first season. During a rainy journey to her finishing school reunion, she finds herself alone in an inn with John Roark, Lord Castleton. John, who gambles so he can earn enough money to find security for himself and his family, is on a winning streak. He's fascinated by the skittish Prudence and decides to help her regain her confidence. When the man who attacked Prudence shows up at the same inn, both Prudence and John find their secrets in danger of exposure. The frequent jumps both forward and back in time accurately portray Prudence's mental state but may be jarring to those used to a more linear style, and there is a significant amount of wish-fulfillment in the final third of the novel.
John’s approach with Pru, for the most part, is surprisingly appropriate and enlightened
The second title in this series I have read, the three ladies in this trilogy are scrambling to find husbands before the 100th anniversary of their finishing school, an event they are all expected to attend and glitter through. In this story, Prudence has been through 4 seasons without a proposal. Her attitude toward men is conflicted at best, and when we learn of her first season’s trauma and the reason for her withdrawing from all things male. Unfortunately, she has kept her experience a secret, as is all too common, and it has managed to affect every aspect of her life as she is constantly on guard, struggling to always appear ‘just so’ and the anxiety that this produces is characterized by a withdrawal. Finding a husband may just prove more difficult than expected for this young woman.
Enter Castleton, a Viscount with a bit of tarnish all having to do with a penchant for men, and a decided unwillingness to marry. John also has a major secret in his past, but his determination to move forward despite difficulties and obstacles give him the necessary ability to understand and not condemn Prudence for her past experience. And his innate charm and wit, combine in his rather alpha protectiveness toward all that need defending, and his all in this story is Pru.
Patience and gentling are the watchwords for Pru and John. Coaxing her feelings forward, showing her that not all men are beasts, encouraging her anger and not allowing her thoughts of vengeance to the one who attacked her to rule her life, but to be a step to move forward and heal, John’s approach with Pru, for the most part, is surprisingly appropriate and enlightened for a man of his era. And his willingness to let Pru escape when her feelings overwhelm her only to chase her back down and push her to face her fears, without anger or accusation but a simple sense of “I am here, again, I am not leaving”, is a clear and repeated demonstration of his feelings and intentions.
Then the shocker comes, and we start to see what John has been hiding: I was suspicious but Rodale managed to give hints that suggested, yet didn’t come close to the full reveal of the secret, and his determination to rise above and move forward, despite the several twists was admirable.
Rodale manages to bring in some truly unsavory moments to the story, but in flashbacks and retelling, feelings and learning to heal, the impact of Pru’s experience remains even as the horror of the act itself is never detailed. John’s position in society and his understanding of the inequities in the peer’s treatment of women the way his regard for the accepted way of doing things when contrasted against his own relationship with his sister does add to his relating to Prudence and her skittishness. Although there is an insta-love here, I appreciated his willingness to let Pru express her own feelings and desires on her own terms: while at first I think he saw a broken yet beautiful woman who he could help and save, the truth is, as Prudence finds her own footing on new ground, and is able to start to heal, the two seem to become stronger together and apart.
There are a few niggles with pacing and some undefined insertions that are never quite fully explained that seem to jump from little interior voices of warning, memory or feeling, but on the whole the story did wrap up nicely with two characters who find, deservedly so, a happy ending.
I received an eBook copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
I tend to rate, but not review books. After having just finished reading the 3rd book in this series, I can authentically say that the author has caught the shame and fear that is founded in abuse. The story is absolutely fantastic as it shows there can still be a light, even after the darkest of times. It shows the fear of trusting again, and the reward. I would offer this to any of my friends, as it is what could be looked at as an inside look at the shame and self loathing that is so hard to get past when you are a victim.
Thank you for putting into words what so many have felt.