I’ve always loved wallflowers in stories, but I’ve never defined wallflowers as simply the shy, retiring girl. If you read historical romance, you know that there’s always more to a wallflower. She may not get picked to dance, but it doesn’t mean she isn’t fierce, clever, and one of the most interesting heroines you’ll ever read.
When it came to writing my own wallflower romance, is it any wonder that I chose to make her an unconventional? Clarissa “Clary” Ruthven will always be one of my favorite characters, because she’s the first character I wrote when she was a teenager in book one of the Romancing the Rules series, Rules for a Rogue, and then had to put her back on the page as a unique, independent heroine of her own story.
I wanted her to “come out swinging” in the first scene in which readers meet her in How to Woo a Wallflower. To find out exactly what I mean and how I accomplished it, here’s a snippet from the first chapter where the hero, Gabriel, encounters Clary again for the first time after many years.
Rounding the corner, he expected to find a man overpowering a woman with his height and strength. A sight he’d seen a thousand times in these streets. Instead, he spotted a man bent at the waist, clutching his groin, glaring toward the entrance of the Fisk Academy for Girls, according to the sign above the door.
“I’ll smash that pretty face of yours,” the wounded blighter cried.
“I don’t think you will,” a feminine voice countered. “And don’t let me see you darken this doorstep ever again.”
A croquet mallet emerged through the doorway first, the cylinder of wood painted with jaunty blue stripes around the edges. Purple ruffles came next, the edge of a skirt kicking up as a diminutive woman stomped out to face the wounded man.
Gabe rushed forward to assist her and jerked to a dead stop.
Pert nose. Guinea-gold hair. Wavy strands glinting in a beam of afternoon sun that managed to break through the clouds.
He recognized her, yet he squinted, unwilling to believe the evidence of his eyes. Queen Victoria parading down the sodden streets of Whitechapel wouldn’t have shocked him more. What business could the young woman have in this soot-smeared place?