cover image The Perks of Loving a Wallflower

The Perks of Loving a Wallflower

Erica Ridley. Forever, $8.99 mass market (368p) ISBN 978-1-5387-1954-1

Don’t judge this book by its title—bluestocking Philippa York may be bookish, but she’s no wallflower, and master of disguise Tommy Wynchester is no demure miss in pearls. Bestseller Ridley’s second Wild Wynchesters romance (after The Duke Heist) arguably touches the holy grail for Regency fans: like Georgette Heyer, but with sex. Lesbian sex, in fact, which pairs deliciously with classic Heyer elements like Shakespearian gender bending and exquisitely delineated fashion. “Tommy” is short for Thomasina, and she’s infatuated from afar with Philippa. A sibling dare to act on her feelings and hold a conversation with Philippa launches her on a masquerade as Baron Horace Vanderbean, guardian of the madcap Wynchester clan and aspirant to Philippa’s hand. Then the perfidy of a friend’s uncle leads the pair into a complicated collaboration to expose him. Along the way, the women uncover truth after truth about themselves and each other, until they can no longer deny what they want. While Ridley does not have Heyer’s skill with minor characters, she has the very great virtue of making her protagonists’ confrontation with the status quo believable. Compromise here is a dragon to be slain, not an inevitable bargain with society. It’s a feminist fairy tale readers will rejoice in. Agent: Lauren Abramo, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Oct.)