Book Review: Wallflower Gone Wild by Maya Rodale

I feel as if I’ve been missing out on some damn good reading not knowing about wallflower novels. I’m sure that not all of them are as good as this series, but still, I think 2016 might be the year of the wallflower. If anyone has any recommendations in this sub-genre/trope, please let me know.

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One-Sentence Synopsis
When her good behavior and refinement get her engaged to a man rumored to have killed his first wife, a wallflower decides to get scandalous in hopes he’ll call the whole thing off. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Worrying Wallflower
Much like her wallflower friends, Olivia wants to find true love and romance, preferably before the annual party at her finishing school. But it doesn’t seem to be in the cards when most of the men she’s ever been introduced to find her extremely boring and her mother to be a complete whack job. Which she is, but more on that later. Though I liked Olivia for the most part, towards the end of the book I started getting a little tired of her going on and on about how scared she was Phinn was going to kill her, especially since by that time, it was pretty clear he wasn’t going to hurt her.

He’s Not Really Mad
Phinn, aka the Mad Baron, is infamous for having killed his first wife, who was also a complete whack job. And even though Phinn didn’t kill her directly, he blames himself for her death. Now, he doesn’t want crazy, he wants a sweet, poised wife who will pursue her own interests and allow him to spend time with his inventions. While that seems narrow minded, he very quickly comes around to realize he wants her for more than that. Also, Phinn is an amazing hero. Though he has a temper, he’s actually really patient and sensitive and a little nerdy…pretty much the greatest type of hero.

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Scandal’s My Middle Name
Even though Olivia and Phinn have a meet cute before she knows who he is, she freaks out when her parents accept his offer of marriage for her. So she does what any young woman in her situation would do: she starts to drink and flirt and act like a complete whack job (do you see a theme here?)! But besides her fears that she’ll be murdered once she’s married, Olivia is acting out because she’s never had a choice in anything, and has been expected to do whatever she’s been told by her parents. Most of her antics were pretty funny, though I totally felt her guilt after she realized later what she’d done.

Norma Bates Potential
In the first book, Emma had a crazy mother, but nothing like Olivia’s. This woman was insane from the start. And nosy. The fact that she tried to dictate how Olivia should act as a wife really made me want to see her get punched in the face. I suppose for that time, it was possibly how she’d been raised and was just putting that on her daughter, but it didn’t make her any less annoying.

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A Climactic Sigh
Most of the book was amazingly sweet and gave me so many feels. Most of the angst came at the beginning and middle of the book, when Olivia was trying to get out of marriage to Phinn, with a few key moments right after they were married. The end, however, seemed to have a very quiet, not overly angsty climax. I don’t want to say it was a fizzle, because it wasn’t. I still loved the book and the happy ending, but I kind of missed that last minute burst of conflict that comes with many romance novels.

The Romance Factor
It was Phinn’s desire to have Olivia love him that really gave me the feels. He’s so sweet and even shy at times, and if Olivia had paid attention, she probably could have figured out that he wasn’t a killer. My favorite scene involved a masquerade ball and Phinn saving Olivia from being assaulted. He knows who she is, but she doesn’t recognize him behind his mask. The scene was kind of hot and set things up for later conflict. So good. 4/5

The Steam Factor
There’s some fun foreplay involving dirty magazines Phinn’s friend leaves for them on their wedding night, but for the most part, while sweet and well done, the sexy times weren’t too steamy. 3/5

Final Thoughts
I’m so glad I own this series. Sometime in the new year, I’m going to go ahead and re-read the third in the series (waiting so I can make it count towards my Goodreads goal).

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