Rating: 4 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
As the son of a Duke, Lord Jasper Thorne knows he is expected to make a good match this season. After his grandfather tarnished their pack’s reputation, a lot is riding on Jasper making a strong alliance. But Jasper has little interest in marrying and is chafing under the pressure that he must pick a mate so quickly. He is overwhelmed by the balls and social obligations and just wants to find someone who truly makes his heart happy.
When Jasper strikes up a conversation with Ambrose Linfield at a ball, the two end up becoming fast friends. Jasper might be one of the social elite, while Ambrose is a quiet wallflower, but the two just really click and start spending all their time together. For Jasper, Ambrose’s friendship is a comfort with all the stress of the season and he finds the man fascinating with his knowledge on so many subjects. Ambrose, on the other hand, feels more for Jasper than friendship. He knows he has to keep his interest in Jasper hidden, as relationships among man are not allowed, but it is so hard when the pair spend so much time together.
Before long, Jasper and Ambrose have become incredibly close and are constantly together. When Ambrose takes a chance and shares his feelings, Jasper is shocked, as it never occurred to him to see Ambrose that way. But he quickly comes to realize that he shares Ambrose’s attraction. However, Jasper’s obligation to his pack means he has little choice but to marry a woman and secure a good match. As the season rapidly comes to a close, Jasper and Ambrose have to figure out if there is any way they can have a chance to be together.
The Wolf and the Wallflower is the first book in Devin Harnois’ Wolves of the Ton series. This is an alternative world historical with a paranormal twist. Much of the story reads very much like a typical historical, but it takes place in a fictitious country. Then, overlaying the traditional ton and aristocracy, we have the addition of a pack society made up of shifters. This unique combination is what drew me to pick up this story and I think overall Harnois does a nice job melding the two genres. We learn some of the history of the wolves and how they came to be and get to see some of the shifting and various rituals they engage in during the full moon. So, I think it was a fun twist on the historical genre. That said, I think the book feels about 90% like a traditional historical and much of the time I could forget they were even supposed to be wolves. So I think some more integration between the historical and paranormal sides would have been helpful. Also, while some of the world building is nicely explained, there were other things that I wanted to see clarified. For example, we know that Jasper’s parents are the Duke and Duchess, as well as alphas of their pack. But how the packs intersected with the various gentry was unclear. Every member of the aristocracy didn’t seem to have their own pack, so I just didn’t understand how it all worked. I also think that not being as immersed in the wolf side of things sometimes made it hard to remember this was not a real world historical, and I had to keep reminding myself this was a fictional world with different rules. All that said, I did find the historical/shifter combination Harnois creates is a lot of fun and something I have rarely seen, and I found it entertaining overall.
Jasper and Ambrose are a really sweet pair. Ambrose has been sort of trod on all his life by his family and is used to people not thinking much of him. He is quiet and shy and assumes everyone thinks he is boring (and most seem to). Meanwhile, Jasper is bold and confident and lively. He befriends Ambrose and sort of sweeps in and is confident they will be besties. There is a nice friends to lovers vibe here as the two build a friendship and soon are spending all their time together. Of course, Ambrose is hot for Jasper and keeping it a secret, and poor Jasper is just totally missing the reason why he wants to spend every waking moment with Ambrose. Harnois gets the pacing right here in that we spend time building the friendship, but still get plenty of time to see the men once they get together. It all comes together well and these guys are easy to root for as a couple.
So I found this a fun story and I really enjoyed the combination of regency-style historical mixed with a shifter story. I would have liked to see a little more balance in the tropes, but overall, this was entertaining and I am looking forward to seeing what is next in the series.
This does sound appealing, Jay. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.