cover image Wallflower Most Wanted

Wallflower Most Wanted

Manda Collins. St. Martin’s, $7.99 mass market (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-10990-3

In Collins’s third Studies in Scandal Regency (after Duke with Benefits), mystery and romance intertwine when an artist and a vicar search for a forger. Miss Sophia Hastings, a talented and forward-thinking painter, is one of the four bluestocking heiresses of Beauchamp House, an isolated estate in early-19th-century England. While painting outdoors, Sophia falls and sprains her ankle; she’s rescued by the very handsome vicar of Little Seaford, Rev. Lord Benedick Lisle. Though there’s plenty of mutual attraction, Sophia lacks the demure nature that she believes would be required of a proper vicar’s wife, so she doesn’t pursue it, but Ben is forthright in his admiration of her art. Sophia and Ben believe that someone nearby is forging art, and their investigation leads them to discover a murdered man, putting them both in danger. The magnetic appeal between Ben and Sophia is powerful and believable, based not only upon their mutual physical attraction but on similar philosophies and admiration of each other’s talents and pursuits. As the romance blossoms, the mystery takes a very unexpected twist, making for a magnetic, fast-paced story. (Feb.)