To Kiss a Wallflower is the nineteenth book in the Timeless Regency Collection, a bestselling anthology series from Mirror Press. The book features three novellas from acclaimed historical romance authors whose stories reveal that eventually, all wallflowers will have their chance at love . . . This is where it begins.
This installment contains: “The Wallflower’s Dance,” by Jen Geigle Johnson; “Letters to a Wallflower,” by Heather B. Moore; and “To Marry a Wallflower,” by Anneka R. Walker and the book releases on June 20, 2022.
EXCERPT from To Kiss a Wallflower
“Letters to a Wallflower”
by Heather B. Moore
Miss Ellen Young was tired of being called beautiful.
As she gazed into the gilt-framed mirror, wrinkling her pert nose, pursing her rosebud lips, and narrowing her lake-blue eyes, she scowled at her reflection. Perhaps if she held this facial expression for an hour, a wrinkle would result. Or perhaps if the rain would stop for an afternoon, she could traipse through gardens and earn a few freckles.
“There you are, dearest,” Mother said, coming into the bedroom. “Why, Ellen, you’re not even dressed for the ball. Cousin Dinah is downstairs, ready and waiting. What will I tell her?”
Without turning, Ellen said, “Tell her she’s ready an hour early, and that I’ll be ready on time.”
Her mother sighed her usual sigh. In a couple decades, Ellen would probably resemble her tawny-haired mother, with gentle lines about her eyes and lips.
“Now be sure to tell Sally to add plenty of curls to your hair. Curls are most becoming on you.”
Ellen hid a grimace. “Of course.”
Her mother’s gaze was full of affection and admiration, which should make Ellen feel guilty. But it didn’t. Stepping forward, Mother smoothed a hand over the sleeve of Ellen’s day dress. “The Society papers were right. You are the diamond of the Season, dearest. I only wish I had the funds to buy you the latest fashions from Paris—”
“You’ve spent enough on my gowns,” Ellen cut in. “I don’t need extra frills or more luxurious fabrics.”
Mother tutted. “You’re right. You’re stunning without them, and you’ll have a marquess, or an earl, or even a baron proposing to you in no time.”
“Not all men of the ton are desirable, Mother,” Ellen cut in with a firm voice. “In fact, most of them are rakes—is that what you wish for my future? A cold marriage bed after I’ve delivered the requisite heir and a spare?”
“Ellen Constance Young! I did not raise you to speak of such vulgar matters!”
Ellen felt a little contrite, but only just. “I apologize.”
“Now,” her mother said, her tremulous voice taking on a new calm. “You must listen carefully to my advice, since I will not be attending tonight.” She brought a handkerchief to her mouth and coughed delicately.
Everything about Mother was delicate, even when she was ill.
“There will be many eligible gentlemen there, and Cousin Dinah knows who’s who. Don’t accept dance invitations from any men beneath your station.”
“Of course not,” Ellen murmured.
“I will send Sally in,” Mother said. “Expect her shortly. Make sure that she takes extra care with your hairdo tonight by adding in the orange blossoms that Aunt Margaret went to all that trouble to send for. They’ll set you apart from the other young misses, and you’ll earn compliments in the Society pages again.”
Ellen nodded, as if she lived and breathed mentions in the Society pages.
This was par for the course—the typical admonitions Mother had been giving her all Season. Thankfully, the Season was half over, and Ellen was happily counting down.
It wasn’t that she didn’t want to marry—unlike Cousin Dinah, who was thirty-one and a declared spinster. Having a wealthy husband certainly would have its perks, but did Ellen have to be on display to secure a husband? Parade in front of the hostess and the eligible bachelors, as if she were at a horse auction?
She couldn’t think of one sincere conversation she’d ever been a part of at a social function this Season. It was all gossip, judgement, and speculation: who was dancing with who; who was wearing the most fashionable dress; who had obviously eaten too many sweets the week before.
Would all the henpecking end with marriage?
Married women were criticized even more: who was with child; who drove the nicest carriage; who had the invitation to dine with royalty; who had produced an heir; who was hosting the best event of the Season.
Instead of going to ball after ball, Ellen would prefer to tend to her small garden of flowers and herbs—the one that widowed Aunt Margaret allowed her to fully plant and care for by herself on the back terrace of her London townhome. It had become Ellen’s solace, her sanity while she and her mother spent the Season here. Ellen’s father had passed away a few years before and left them a widow’s cottage, but the estate had gone to the nearest male relative….