Never Wager with a Wallflower (The Merriwell Sisters: Book 3) by Virginia Heath

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin

Date of publication: November 7th, 2023

Genre: Romance, Historical Romance, Historical Fiction, Historical, Fiction, Regency, Adult, Regency Romance

Series: The Merriwell Sisters

Never Fall for Your Fiancee—Book 1

Never Rescue a Rogue—Book 2

Never Wager with a Wallflower—Book 3

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

The third and final delightful installment in the Merriwell Sister’s Regency rom-com series.
Miss Venus Merriwell has been waiting for her prince to come since the tender age of fourteen. She wants a man who is selfless, academic like her, and free from all the wretched vices her gambler father enjoyed far too much before he left the Merriwell sisters practically destitute. Unfortunately, after a slew of romantic disappointments, there is still no sign of that prince at twenty-three and the only one true love of her life is the bursting-at-the-seams orphanage in Covent Garden that she works tirelessly for. An orphanage that desperately needs to expand into the empty building next door.
For Galahad Sinclair, gambling isn’t just his life, it’s in his blood. He grew up and learned the trade at his grandfather’s knee in a tavern on the far away banks of the Hudson in New York. But when fate took all that away and dragged him across the sea to London, it made sense to set up shop here. He’s spent five years making a success out of his gaming hell in the sleazy docks of the East End. Enough that he can finally afford to buy the pleasure palace of his dreams—and where better than in the capital’s sinful heart, Covent Garden? The only fly in his ointment is the perfect building he’s just bought to put it in also happens to be right next door to the orphanage run by his cousin’s wife’s youngest sister. A pious, disapproving and unsettling siren he has avoided like the plague since she flattened him five years ago…
While Venus and Galahad lock horns over practically everything, and while her malevolent orphans do their darndest to sabotage his lifelong dream, can either of them take the ultimate gamble—and learn to love thy neighbor?

First Line:

“Do we have an accord, Mr. Sinclair?”

Never Wager with a Wallflower by Virginia Heath

Important things you need to know about the book:

Pace: The pacing for Never Wager with a Wallflower is medium. It could have been done with a faster storyline, especially towards the end. But overall, it worked. There was some slight lag towards the end, but it didn’t affect how I liked the book.

Series: Never Wager with a Wallflower is the 3rd (and last) book in the Merriwell Sisters trilogy. While you could technically read this book as a standalone, I recommend not doing so. I did, and I got turned around references to the other books. I also couldn’t keep the characters straight (other than Vee and Gal) in my head. I plan on reading the other two books as soon as I can.

Trigger/Content Warning: Never Wager with a Wallflower has trigger and content warnings. If any of these trigger you, I suggest not reading the book. They are:

  • Classism (moderate)
  • Poverty (moderate)
  • Abandonment (moderate)
  • Child Abuse (moderate)
  • Gambling Addiction (moderate)
  • Alcohol Consumption (minor)
  • Pregnancy (moderate)
  • Childbirth (minor)
  • Chronic Illness (minor)
  • Death of grandparent (moderate)
  • Death of parent(s) (minor)
  • Murder (moderate)

Sexual Content: There is sexual content in Never Wager with a Wallflower. Some are implied, but most were on page. It was not graphic.

Language: There is no swearing in Never Wager with a Wallflower. There is era-appropriate offensive language.

Setting: Never Wager with a Wallflower is set in London, England.

Tropes: Happy Ending, Forced Proximity, Enemies to Lovers, The Misunderstanding, Opposites Attract, Rivals, Emotional Scars, Everyone Can See It

Age Range: I recommend Never Wager with a Wallflower to anyone over 21.

Plot Synopsis (as spoiler-free as I can get):

Miss Venus Merriwell knows what she wants in a husband. She wants someone intellectual, selfless, and who doesn’t have any gambling vices. She also wants a husband who will be passionate about the exact causes as she is like the rundown, overcrowded orphanage she has taught at for the past four years. It badly needs repairs and to be expanded to the building next door. But, if she has to settle, she will. That is why she is trying to catch the eye of London’s dryest, self-involved Lord. Forget a love match; she knows that marrying him will be safe.

Galahad Sinclair is Vee’s enemy. He represents everything that she despises. He runs a gambling hell on the docks of the East End and enjoys needling her every chance he gets. With their clashes fueling family gossip, Vee and Gal are thrown together at every opportunity. When Vee starts to get close to Gal, she sees someone different from the facade he shows everyone. But, when a secret that Gal has comes to the surface, will it kill their blossoming romance?

Main Characters

Venus Merriwell: I liked her, but man, did she have tunnel vision. Her world consisted of her sisters and their families, balls where she would look for prospective suitors, and the orphanage where she tirelessly worked. Her disdain for Gal caught me off because she was sweet with everyone else. There was a point in the book where I wanted to shake her (it was right after she found out Gal had bought the building next door). She was nasty to him, and I couldn’t believe what she said to the boy she had with her. That was almost enough to change my mind about her. But she more than made up for her attitude a few chapters later. I also liked that she loved to read, and Shakespeare was her favorite author. Of course, reading his plays gave her somewhat of an unrealistic view of romance (her journal entries showed that).

Galahad Sinclair: I loved him. Yes, he did some shady things at the beginning of the book. But, I stress this: he had no way of knowing that Vee wanted that building for herself. I liked that the author slowly (and sometimes at a turtle’s pace) had Gal reveal things about himself that saddened and horrified me. Some items, I guessed at, but others shook me. There were points in the book where I did think he made his bed (the whole building fiasco), but he did try to apologize.

My Review:

I enjoyed reading Never Wager with a Wallflower. But I felt a little out of sorts while reading it. This book is the third and last book in the trilogy. I missed a lot of background by not reading the first two books. But I did enjoy Vee and Gal’s very bumpy relationship. That had me on my toes for the entire book.

I loved that the author had journal entries by Vee from 14 to the present day. I liked seeing her thoughts on different situations (from boobs that won’t stop growing to her feelings about Gal). It also gave me good insight into her life growing up, what her father did to her and her sisters, and other storylines that kept popping up in the book.

The main storyline, the love story between Vee and Gal, was well written. As stated above, it was a bumpy enemy to lovers/forced proximity romance. Sometimes, I wondered when the romance would start and Vee’s animosity would end. But that made for a fun read. I also liked that Gal was very much in tune with his feelings for Vee and realized what they were early in the book. On the other hand, Vee fought her feelings until the end of the book.

The orphanage storyline was a little meh to me. While it allowed Gal to explain his formative years to Vee, it didn’t do anything but cause issues between those two. I thought Vee went overboard with her reaction to Gal buying the building next door. The meltdown that she had and the things she said to him was awful.

The end of Never Wager with a Wallflower was okay. It was a little drawn out. I was also weirded out that everyone was okay with what they walked into. I liked the epilogue, but I got confused by it. I had to reread it to understand what was going on.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin, NetGalley, and Virginia Heath for allowing me to read and review this ARC of Never Wager with a Wallflower. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

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