What a Wallflower Wants

Written by MAYA RODALE
Review by Sarah Johnson

With a darkly intense story of love, healing, and trust regained, Rodale’s historical romance, set in post-Regency England, courageously examines the plight of a young woman who’s a rape survivor. Miss Prudence Merryweather Payton was sexually assaulted four years ago by a debauched nobleman at a ball. Now, in 1824, she avoids getting physically close to any man and, considering herself soiled, keeps her damaging secret hidden, even from her best friends. Desperate not to be the only long-unwed graduate of her finishing school, Prue arranges a marriage of convenience, but when their stagecoach is attacked, and her supposed fiancé proves to be a contemptible coward, she suddenly finds herself alone, on foot, in remote Wiltshire. Refusing help, she takes refuge at a country inn, and under the caring attention of John Roark, Viscount Castleton, she learns how her fear has kept her trapped. The couple’s romance progresses too quickly, but the traumatic subject matter is sensitively handled. The plot contains several unpredictable twists, especially regarding John’s past. In addition, Rodale casts a critical eye on the haut ton, the aristocratic society beloved by many romance novelists and readers, for seeing a well-placed marriage as a young woman’s foremost goal and placing such a high value on female virginity.