Lexi: It’s summertime and the perfect time to read a sweet, funny romance! And so, dear reader, you are in lucky because we have the lovely Tessa Dare here to talk about THE WALLFLOWER WAGER! Welcome, Tessa Dare!
Tessa: Thank you so much for inviting me! I’m always up for a good book and a good glass of wine.
Lexi: Whew! The wait for book number three in the Girl Meets Duke series is finally over! You’ve given us Ash and Emma and Chase and Alex, and now we have Penny’s story. And what a beginning you gave her, a foul-mouthed parrot on the loose and a trespassing lady hot on its heels. What was your favorite part about writing Penny and Gabe’s meet cute?
Tessa: Am I allowed to say the nakedness? I mean, Gabe is not completely naked. But when Penny sneaks into the house next door to retrieve her parrot, and the new owner she thought was not yet in residence is, actually, in residence as of that evening, and he startles her when he’s just coming out of the bath … he is mostly naked. And dripping. Yeah, that part was fun.
Lexi: Few books have such perfect beginnings. THE DUCHESS DEAL and THE GOVERNESS GAME, books one and two, were incredibly giggle-inducing the whole way through. But, we have to say, THE WALLFLOWER WAGER has some particularly loud laugh-out-loud moments. We blame the animals. If you had to pick, which animal really steals the show?
Tessa: Oh, it’s got to be the goat(s)! Anyone who follows me on social media knows that goats are my favorite animal, and baby goats in particular. It was inevitable that I’d find a way to put a baby goat in a book. Not to spoil too much, but Gabe and the two previous heroes (Ash and Chase) find themselves serving as goat midwives, unwillingly. Very unwillingly. That was one of my favorite scenes to write. I love writing reluctant bromances.
Lexi: It’s hard to argue your choice, but we’d also like to say that the chemistry between Penny and Gabe is very spotlight worthy. The two of them have the best banter! It’s defiantly one of your writing signatures, and we are in love with the wit tossed between these two! Do you have a favorite line you can share, or can you tell us how you came up with your favorite line?
Tessa: Let me think… You know what, let me just cut and paste a little excerpt! This whole conversation was so fun to write. They’re wading in a brook, looking for Penny’s otter.
She tromped along in the knee-deep water, calling for Hubert.
Gabriel tromped along behind her. “For God’s sake, let the beast have his freedom. He’s a red-blooded . . . whatever a male otter’s called.”
“Boars. The males are boars.”
“He’ll build his own little house . . .”
“It’s called a holt.”
“. . . find a Mrs. Hubert . . .”
“Otters are polygynous. The boars mate with multiple sows.”
“So he’ll find multiple Mrs. Huberts. Even better. I never thought I’d envy an otter, but here I am.”
She heaved a long-suffering sigh.
“Before long, he’ll have sired a whole crop of otterlings.”
“Pups.” She wheeled to face him. “They’re pups. Stop pretending you know what an otter wants. You don’t know the slightest thing about them.”
“I know that he’s doing what he was born to do. And that you are being selfish.”
“That animal is not your possession. He doesn’t exist for your amusement. He has needs, instincts. Urges.”
The way he said that word, in that deep, earthy growl, had chills rippling over her skin.
She swallowed hard. “Urges?”
“Yes. Urges.” He sauntered toward her—as much as a man could saunter in knee-deep water. “But what could a lady like you know about those?”
“Oh, I understand urges. Right now, I have the powerful urge to do this.”
She shoved him hard in the chest, hoping to send him flailing backward into the river.
He didn’t budge. Not a teeter. Not a totter.
Not even a blink.
Penny would not surrender. She took a step in reverse and then tried again, adding the weight of her body to the effort.
This time, he was ready for her. He caught her wrists in his hands, stopping her before she could even make contact.
“Now, now, Your Ladyship. This is most unbecoming behavior.”
“I know that.” She clenched her hands into fists. “You are so maddening. You have a way of provoking me, unlike anyone I’ve ever known. It’s as though I become a different person when I’m around you, and I’m not certain I like her.”
He pulled her to him. “I like her.”
Lexi: There are so many favorites to be had with THE WALLFLOWER WAGER! Thank you, thank you for bringing us Penny and Gabe. And if we may, we’re crossing our fingers that Nicola will be next! Congrats and cheers on this release, Tessa! Thank you for stopping by!