*I got a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion*
What is the book about?
Finishing school failed to make a proper lady of Penelope Arrington. But as a Wallflower of West Lane, Poppy has a far more vital role—she and her three best friends have made a pact to protect each other from the clutches of dangerous, disreputable men. So when one of them is about to be married off to a duke sight unseen, Poppy makes it her mission to divine the prospective husband’s true character. If only she didn’t require the aid of London’s most unsuitable rake.
Rhys Draper, Earl of Marsden, has known the headstrong Poppy since she was a young girl naïve to the ways of men. To her eternal chagrin—and to his vague amusement—they have been at odds over the memory of their embarrassing first encounter all these years. Now, with his services in need, Rhys sees a chance to finally clear the air between them. Instead, he is surprised by the heat of their feelings. If the two do not tread carefully, they may end up in a most agreeably compromising position… (goodreads)
Book: The Earl not Taken | Series: The Wallflowers of West Lane | Author: A.S. Fenichel | Publisher: Kensington Publishing | Pages: 220 | Release Date: 17th March 2020 | Genre: historical romance | TW: physical abuse mention
What did I think?
I absolutely adored the concept of this book. Four women become close friends in a boarding school for girls and swear to look out for each other, especially after one of them had to suffer under her husband who died after three years of marriage. So they plan to find out more about the fiancé of one of the others before she marries him. They get unexpected (and a bit unwanted) help from Rhys, the brother of the now widowed Aurora. Especially Rhys and Poppy have to work together which is hard for both of them due to surprising feelings and stuff that happened in their past.
So yes. I liked the sound of that but to be quite honest, I was underwhelmed. There just wasn’t enough of anything, I missed so much. First of all, why did the girls have to go to this boarding school in Switzerland? It’s a school for difficult high society girls. But in what way are the four girls difficult? From what I could read in the book they’re just a bit headstrong but I couldn’t really find difficulties that would justify shipping the girls off to another country.
Yeah, Poppy is clumsy. She falls all the time and sometimes can’t keep her mouth shut but I don’t see that as a reason to go to this school. I also don’t really see why the school even had to be in the book since it was only the place where the four women got to know each other but I never really got to know what happened there, what made them thick as thieves, how their time there was (except good). I just thought the whole thing with the school was a bit unnecessary?
I also couldn’t get warm with Poppy. As I said she is clumsy and falls all the time and rips and makes a mess of her dresses but do you really need to say it every second page? Yes, I know that she trips all the time but I don’t need to hear it from her mouth all. The. Time. I just had to roll my eyes sometimes because it was kind of a „ugh not again“ thing for me. Apart from that, I found Poppy quite annoying. She doesn’t really trust herself and acts against her better judgement all the time.
And what I found to be unbelievable as that suddenly Poppy stops being clumsy. Like, how can falling in love change you from tripping over something constantly to being elegant as hell? Huh?
Rhys was another thing. At the beginning, I liked him a lot. He tried to get in Poppy’s good graces, not even knowing, what he did wrong and why she despises him so much. Rhys is sweet and caring and would do anything for his sister. But as the story progresses he becomes too… idk. Romantic? Sappy? Talkative, especially. I liked Rhys and Poppy’s banter and arguments at the beginning but their romance just went too fast and then there was too much drama and I just got annoyed.
Especially since a big part of the drama was thanks to Aurora, Rhys‘ sister who did nothing the whole story expect being a widow. And then causing the drama which I didn’t think fit her character too well, but ok.
I liked the side characters way more than the protagonists. I adored Geb Arafa and Nicholas and their friendship. I also liked Faith a lot. And I really hope the second book will be more to my liking because I’m very interested in Faith and Nicholas‘ story.