ARC Review: How the Wallflower Was Won by Eva Leigh

How the Wallflower was Won by Eva Leigh
How the Wallflower Was Won
Eva Leigh
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: September 27, 2022
Series or Standalone: Last Chance Scoundrels #2
Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreads
Rating:2 Stars

MY REVIEW

CW: Sexism; ableism; misogyny

Oh boy – I struggled with this book. I had such high hopes for this as I adored Finn, but Tabitha ruined the whole thing for me in the end. I’m still angry at how this story played out. If I could, I would rate the beginning of this story 3 stars, but I’d give the ending zero stars.

Expert gambler Finn Ransome needs to marry within a year or risk him and his friends being cut off by his parents. Wallflower Tabitha Seaton must marry to gain entry to the Sterling Society, a scholarly society with considerable sway in politics and society. Finn never thinks a bluestocking would go for someone like him, but when proposing a marriage of convenience, she agrees but says she will not allow emotions to develop. As opposites attract, their marriage progresses from one of convenience to a true partnership, one where love begins to grow until some petty drama ensues that pushes them apart, forcing Finn to win back Tabitha. 

I have not had such a strong emotional reaction to the end of a book in a while. And it’s all thanks to one person  – Tabitha. I hate to hate on ladies, but Tabitha enraged me at the end of the book. The third-act conflict in Finn and Tabitha’s relationship is her fault, yet she expects Finn to apologize and grovel when she treated him like trash? Girl, bye. Seriously, she explodes on Finn for a small thing he said, something that he didn’t know would be a trigger for her as she never told him! And what she said to him in response was incredibly cruel and made him feel worthless as she hit on his biggest insecurity which she knew about! To top it all off, he has to be the one to apologize as she feels slighted when he really didn’t do anything wrong. She was needlessly cruel and barely apologized while this man moved out, bent over backward to do everything to make her happy, and continued to say he was sorry multiple times in his declaration of love. The more Tabitha acted hurt, the angrier I got, as Finn had no way of knowing what he did wrong or why. This seriously ruined the whole book for me, as she should have at least seen and acknowledged that she was in the wrong too. 

Even before the ending, Tabitha and I did not vibe together well. I know she’s supposed to be this character that’s fighting the status quo and patriarchy, but she just came off as dull and annoying. She’s supposed to be this intellectual, but she is so dumb in some ways. Did she really believe that the Sterling Society would let her in if she married? Also, the reason she claims she doesn’t do love and emotions was so juvenile – her heart was broken by an unrequited crush who said some not-nice things when she confessed her feelings. One thing I did like about Tabitha was how she uplifted Finn and made him feel worthy, but she ruined that in the end.

Meanwhile, Finn is a precious angel who deserves so much better than Tabitha. I adored Finn and liked him much more than his brother Kieran from The Good Girl’s Guide to Rakes. This man has been belittled his entire life by his parents for his learning disability. He was made to think he was stupid, that his ideas didn’t have value, and that he wasn’t worthy of ambition because he’s not classically smart. However, he’s incredibly talented in other ways. He carries a lot of hurt with him that he doesn’t let most people see – his biggest insecurities are tied to his intellect. This man also falls head over heels in love with Tabitha so fast. He would do anything for her, yet his fear that she’ll find him stupid keeps him from expressing his real emotions. Watching everything he does to apologize (even though he doesn’t need to) shows his kind and caring personality. 

While this book had a lot of sex, it didn’t have a lot of romance. It’s a marriage of convenience story, which can be hit or miss for me. This one had potential but fell short. I ended up lukewarm on the romance. It felt very one-sided as Tabitha was too busy with her scholarly society and her old hurts to both try to let Finn in. It felt like Finn was the one pushing the whole romantic relationship forward, showing that he cared in so many ways, yet it wasn’t fully reciprocated. Sure, some of the sex scenes were hot, but I would have liked more emotional development between our main couple.

Finally, I have to close out by talking about the plot. I honestly did not know where this story was going, and not in a good way. I was bored a lot of the time while reading this. This book focused so much on scholarly societies and forming a scholarly society, and I honestly just didn’t care. The last 30% of the book was so in the weeds on the drama of the dueling scholarly societies, and it was tedious. I admire what Leigh was trying to do with the plot, but it didn’t work for me.

Honestly, the Last Chance Scoundrels series has been a struggle for me so far. I liked book one well enough, but it didn’t feel particularly memorable, and this one just didn’t work for me in the end. I likely will read book three as I feel like Dom and Willa’s book will be angsty, which I love, but I will be going in with tempered expectations. 

Thank you to Avon/Netgalley for the ARC. All thoughts, ideas and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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