I have to mix it up at times and I just can’t stop myself from going from the modern bad boys to the historical bad boys. Most of the times I am deeply disappointed. I don’t understand why all the “reformed” rogues always come across as boys with a penchant for naughtiness rather than men with a taste for raunchy and dirty delights. I want my scandalous men to know how to cause a scandal… thank you, Ashbrooke. You tickle my tickleness and I enjoy your boldness. You truly do have a connivery that makes me very proud. Maya Rodale YOU have made me very proud.
You should know that Maya has done something very clever and she has written a contemporary companion trilogy that goes with this series, Bad Boys & Wallflowers, based on this book and it is as brilliant as this one, revamped to modern times. This story though is great the way it is.
Lady Emma Avery and her three best friends, Lady Olivia Archer and Miss Prudence Payton have a certain infamy in the ton as wallflowers of particular virtuousness. Emma is Least Likely to Misbehave. Olivia is Least Likely to Cause a Scandal. Prudence is Least Likely to Be Caught in a Compromising Position. Little does anyone in society realize that it isn’t necessarily indicative of the women’s true personalities and Blake William Peregrine Auden, Duke of Ashbrooke is about to bring out the impishness of Lady Emma. No one could have prepared themselves for the devilry she is capable of and her only match is the mischievous and unrepentant Ashbrooke.
During a night where the three alleged virtues are in their cups Emma becomes the butt of the machinations of Prudence and Olivia’s. The three are rather toasted–quite scandalous behavior for straightlaced maidens– and upon conversation of Emma’s long held love for a man who has been courting her for so long that they might as well have become siblings a truly scandalous marriage announcement is penned out. The wedding announcement declares Emma is intended for the most desired bachelor of the ton, Ashbrooke. The night ends in everyone fleeing the house in emergency and by a freak chance the missive is sent to the papers. Emma hears at the same time as Ashbrooke of their upcoming nuptials. Of course the two have different reactions: Emma is mortified and Ashbrooke sees it as the perfect opportunity to change his reputation. How better to shine up his dirty soul than to shake a little pureness on it?
Of course these two are fiery and clever tongued are like flint and tinde with one another. Emma never lets Ashbrooke get away with his con unblemished and he makes her pay for her embellishments. Their chemistry is beautiful. I think they are quite possibly one of the greatest Historical Romance couples I’ve read, up there with Bennett Day and London Harcourt from Zoe Archer’s Scoundrel and they are probably in the top three. Where Meredith Duran’s Wicked Becomes You with Gwen Maudsley and Alexander Ramsey also join them. Emma and Blake are fantastically humorous and romantically amazekittens.
You want to read this book and then you want to pick the Contemporary Romance novels that tell the modern day romance based from this. The first book is called, The Bad Boy Billionaire’s Wicked Arrangement. I am totally in love with Duke Austen and I love his hacker team of computer experts. This book is so good!
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The Wicked Wallflower Excerpt:
Though they were in full view of everyone in the drawing room, Emma and the Duke of Ashbrooke could not be heard, thanks to the French Doors that the duke deliberately closed behind them—with an apologetic grin to all the ladies, of course. Not one of whom moved, other than to obtain a better view of the unfathomable sight of Emma strolling arm in arm with London’s Most Eligible Bachelor Of All Time Ever.
She inhaled deeply, discovering the duke’s manly scent of fresh linen and wool mingling with the fragrant flowers of the garden. She exhaled slowly. None of this could be real. At any second now, everything would return to normal, or perhaps even worse.
What cursed person had sent the announcement to the newspaper? And heaven’s above, what was the duke actually doing here, in her garden, his muscled arm linked with hers?
“It seems we are engaged,” Ashbrooke remarked casually. As he were only commenting on the weather. As if they were acquainted, and not complete strangers to each other.
“We did nothing to dispel the rumors,” Emma replied.
“Rumors? It was printed in the paper.”
“Very well, libel,” Emma corrected. “But you could still cry off.”
She so kindly gave him the opportunity to live down to her expectations. She found herself holding her breath and glancing up at his impossibly handsome profile while she still had the opportunity to do so.
“Do you not want to marry me?” he asked, as if that had anything to do with it. She had not even considered it.
“Your Grace, I don’t even know you.”
“A minor detail, and one that is easily remedied.” Then he glanced down at her with dark eyes and a suggestive smile. “It would be a pleasure to become better acquainted.”
He said this, of course, in a manner that left no doubt as to what sort of pleasure or acquaintance he intended. Emma felt her temperature rising, but would not allow herself engage in his flirtations. She did not want to be swept away upon some flight of fancy, only to come crashing down when the world inevitably restored itself to the proper order in which the likes of him did not engage with the likes of her.
“I should think our lack of acquaintance is a significant detail, actually,” she said. “And one not necessarily in need of a remedy.”
The duke paused, and turned to face her. She was struck by the perfection of him. She, who had a crooked smile and plain brown hair and perfectly fine features could not even imagine possessing such beauty as he.
He didn’t even seem aware of how utterly handsome he was, and how it made a girl lose her wits around him.
Emma resolved then and there that she would be immune to the Ashbrooke Effect. She would not be yet another simpering, silly girl that flung herself at his feet. While the world as she’d always known it no longer made sense, Emma stubbornly clung to one truth: the likes of her and the likes of Ashbrooke could not belong together. Therefore, there was no point in acting prettily as if she could 1) suddenly learn to flirt and as if 2) something would come of it.
No, she wanted Benedict and their little townhouse full of books and babies. She wanted to be with a man who was safe, steady and constant.
“I have a proposal for you,” the duke said, clasping her hands. His were large, warm and he scandalously did not wear gloves.
He laughed, a rich, low, velvety sound and she was overwhelmed by a flush of heat and pleasure just from the vibrations of it. Though she may have fleeting suffered a sensation that might have been the infamous Ashbrooke Effect, she would perish before admitting it.
They did not belong together. She would do well to remember that.
She promptly forgot as he dropped to one knee.
“What in blazes are you doing?” Emma tried to yank him up to stand, but he held onto her hand firmly. She glanced, panicked, at the group of ladies pressed up against the drawing room window.
The duke remained on one knee, peering at her with an earnest look in his eyes and a hint of a smile on his lips.
“Emily, will you marry me?
“Are you mad?”
“Smile, darling, they’re watching,” he murmured.
“Your Grace, we both know this betrothal announcement is…a joke. It’s not real,” she told him. That much had to be said. She owed him that.
“I’m not an idiot, Emma,” Blake said frankly, though he smiled as if he were in the midst of a proposal, because he remained on bended knee. “I know that someone with a warped sense of humor or twisted idea of vengeance thought it’d be an amusing prank to announce an engagement between two people who have never met. I don’t know what kind of unhinged person would do such a thing.”
Emma declined to offer further intelligence on the matter. In fact, she vowed to take the truth of the letter’s authors to her grave, just as she vowed to seek revenge upon the horrible person who had actually sent it.
“But now I am proposing in truth. I beg you to say yes,” he said so solemnly, she almost considered it. She narrowed her eyes, finding this proposal highly suspicious. She’d wager that when the duke awoke this morning, he didn’t even know she was alive. And yet here he was, on bended knee insanely proposing that they marry. He could not be serious.
Perhaps he was insane.
Or perhaps the duke had an ulterior motive. While she did not want to be unwed at Lady Penelope’s ball, she also didn’t want throw her life away on a whim to suit an addled aristocrat.
She wanted Benedict. The man she loved. The man who actually and truly knew her.
Benedict! Where was he? Why was he not here? Probably because he thought her engaged to a man who towered above him in rank. He probably thought she lied and deceived him, too. Which is why she had to end this farce and explain to Benedict the truth. They could then elope and live simply in the country or in that townhouse on Curzon Street.
That was the happily-ever-after of which she dreamed. She would not be the plain and forgotten wife of an infamous scoundrel, notorious rogue and dashing duke.
“Thank you, Your Grace. But I cannot accept.”
She, a lowly, impoverish wallflower on her fourth season had just done the unthinkable: refused a wealthy duke. She must have gone mad.
In spite of her rejection, Ashbrooke just smiled. Then he stood, towering over her, and he gently lowered his mouth to hers and brushed his lips across her own. It was only an instant, but she felt sparks.
She felt the snap and sizzle of a fire flickering to life.
And she became aware that she’d never felt that with Benedict.
A lot could happen in an instant.
“What are you about?” she asked, dazed. He gently pushed a lock of hair away from her cheek. It was the affectionate caress of a lover.
“A kiss to celebrate our betrothal. For making me the happiest man in the world when you said yes.”
“I did no such thing,” she declared. Good God the man was daft. All beauty and no brains.
“According to that dozen of gossips in there,” he said, inclining his head and never once taking his eyes off her face, “you just did.”
“They couldn’t hear me—“ she said as the truth dawned. He wasn’t daft at all. He was devious and she had just fallen neatly into his trap.
“But they could see,” he murmured, devastatingly.
They could see that he had proposed on one knee—again, presumably. They could see that he had kissed her. They would never, ever, ever, ever, ever consider that Emma would refuse him.
Emma touched her fingers to her lips. They burned. Still burned. One fleeting kiss in the garden, and she was betrayed. Ruined. One fleeting kiss and the duke of Ashbrooke had robbed her of her hopes, her dreams.
They were as good as married now. There would be no more Benedict, no little townhouse. She’d be the lonely duchess, married to a man far more attractive than she, and always the subject of cruel whispers. What does he see in her? She could just imagine the gossip columns: To the surprise of no one, the duke of Ashbrooke continues his rakehell ways despite his marriage to the buxom bluestocking who at least has books to comfort her.
It was not the life she had planned, nor was it a life she wished for.
Emma would never forgive him that.
I am a wallflower, she wanted to protest. I love another. But she was a smart girl. Thus Emma knew none of that mattered anymore. Not after a duke kissed her in the garden, in full view of at least two dozen of London’s greatest gossips. In a way, that was more official than actually signing the marriage contracts.
“Welcome to happily ever after,” Ashbrooke said, linking his arm with hers.
Maya Rodale on All The Things Inbetween:
Maya Rodale’s Books:
The Bad Boy Billionaire’s Wicked Arrangement Synopsis:
Jane Sparks has accidentally announced her engagement on Facebook—to the infamous Bad Boy Billionaire, Duke Austen. As soon as it’s discovered that Jane and Duke barely know each other (One hot kiss at a party does not a relationship make), she’ll be humiliated. And then Duke does something Jane never expected. He plays along with her charade.
With his hard partying, playboy reputation jeopardizing a fifty million dollar investment deal, Duke realizes an engagement with the hot but oh-so-proper librarian could be just the thing to repair his reputation. This good girl tempts him to be very wicked…but just with her. It’s unprecedented. Inconceivable. Totally alluring.
As the unlikely match of librarian and tech entrepreneur set out to convince the world—and the internet—that their love is real, something unexpected happens: they start falling for each other. But Jane is secretly writing a historical romance novel that could expose their carefully constructed romance… unless two perfect strangers are content to be perfectly scandalous together.
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Wallflower Gone Wild Synopsis:
In the second in Maya Rodale’s delightful Wallflower series, London’s Least Likely to Cause a Scandal is taking Society by storm…
Being good has worked out very badly for Lady Olivia Archer. All she has to show for four seasons on the marriage mart is the nickname Prissy Missy. Her prospects are so bleak that her parents have betrothed her to a stranger with a dire reputation. If Phinneas Cole—aka The Mad Baron—wants a biddable bride, perhaps Olivia can frighten him off by breaking every ladylike rule.
Phinn has admired Olivia’s poise and refinement from afar…qualities that appear to have vanished now that they are officially engaged. This Olivia is flirtatious, provocative, and wickedly irresistible. She’s not at all the woman he bargained for, yet she’s the only one he wants.
He’s determined to woo her. She’s determined to resist. But Olivia is discovering there’s nothing so appealing as a fiancé who’s mad, bad, and dangerously seductive…
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Girl Gone Wild Synopsis:
The second installment of a sexy, whirlwind romance about a modern day heroine writing historical romance novels based on her romantic misadventures with the bad boy billionaire.
Being good hasn’t exactly worked out so well for Jane Sparks. Her ex-boyfriend dumped her for being too predictable and her fake fiancé, Duke Austen, is counting on her good-girl image to repair his bad boy reputation. But everything changes with the publication of the historical romance novel she wrote based on her fauxmance with the Bad Boy Billionaire. Suddenly, she’s notorious, scandalous, and causing lots trouble.
Duke Austen has admired Jane’s poise and perfectly demure behavior…qualities that seemed to have vanished once she helped him land a big investment deal. But now that his company is on the verge of a twenty billion dollar IPO, the stakes have never been higher—and Jane has never been more shocking, provocative and wickedly irresistible. She’s not at all the woman he bargained for, yet she’s the only one he wants.
Duke is determined to woo his girl gone wild. She’s determined to keep him guessing. But Jane is discovering there’s nothing so appealing as a billionaire who’s mad, bad, and dangerously seductive…
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What a Wallflower Wants Synopsis:
In the third novel of 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.
John Roark, Viscount Castleton, is 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. 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 in doing so, he risks revealing his own secrets that could destroy his future.
What a Girl Wants Synopsis:
The third installment of a sexy, whirlwind romance about a modern day heroine writing historical romance novels based on her romantic misadventures with the bad boy billionaire.
Jane Sparks had it all…almost.
Everyone knew that Jane Sparks had been dumped by her high school sweetheart and fired from her job, which is why she was really looking forward to attending her high school reunion as a successful romance novelist with her hot billionaire boyfriend as her date. But a violent encounter with her ex-boyfriend changes everything.
Duke Austen was the luckiest guy in town…almost
Duke Austen is a blue-eyed charmer with a bad boy reputation and ambitious plans for his future—after two failed startups, this tech entrepreneur is about to celebrate the $20 billion IPO of his company—but it no longer matters when the woman he loves has been hurt. Stranded in his apartment during a hurricane without electricity, they must rebuild their trust…and fall in love all over again.
Just when they have it all figured out, Jane and Duke are forced to decide what matters more: facing her past or celebrating his successful future.
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