Title: The Wallflower
Author: Jan Freed
Copyright: 1999 (Harlequin); 296 pgs.
Series: Harlequin Superromance #790
Who: Sarah Davidson and Jack Morgan
Where: Houston, Texas
From the back: Sarah Davidson is the lone witness to a brutal murder. After the killer makes an attempt on her life, she’s put under police protection. But one of the cops turns on her, she’s forced to hide in a place no one would ever think to look. Sarah’s solution? Roosevelt High. She’ll masquerade as a high school senior and try to blend in. But no one can ignore the “cool girl from California”. Especially not Jack Morgan, her English teacher. Under ordinary circumstances, he would be the perfect man for her. But he’ll never look at her as a woman unless she reveals her true identity — and if she does that she just might end up dead. What’s a girl to do?
Comments: The best way to describe this book is that it is a cross between Hiding Out and Never Been Kissed. The title refers to Sarah when she originally went through high school. She’d been overweight and shy. Her college roommate, Donna Kaiser, helped her overcome her problems and Sarah is now an image consultant in a public relations firm. Donna is an assistant principle and it is her idea to hide Sarah as a high school senior in her school.
Sarina Davis, as Sarah is now known as, is nothing like the eighteen-year-old, Sarah. Used to speaking her mind and being taking seriously by adults, “Sarina” gets off on the wrong foot with Jack Morgan, her English teacher. He’s strict and Sarah thinks he’s uptight. However, she’s a hit with many of the students, especially the misfits. Sarah decides to befriend and help several of these students as much as she can while waiting for the trial.
One of the students she befriends happens to be Jack’s much younger sister, Kate. Their father died while Jack was still in high school, leaving behind a pregnant wife. Jack stayed with his mother instead of going off to USC — Jack’s dream is to be a screenwriter. He went to night school and became a teacher. Every chance he gets, he works on his screenplays. He likes teaching, but lately, he’s been unhappy with his life. His sister is at a difficult stage (she’s fifteen) and their mother is always critical of Kate, comparing her to Jack, and not being an effective parent. He’s also waiting to hear from his agent about a script he submitted. And if that wasn’t maddening enough, the new female student is having an alarming effect on him.
At first, Sarah isn’t that interested in him. She calls him Moses (he has a set of personal ten commandments on his class room wall) and is critical of his boring clothing and his aftershave. She’s more than happy to let Donna have him; she’s been interested in him for years. However, the more Sarah gets to know him, her feelings begin to change. She’s forced to reveal her true identity to him.
I really enjoyed this book. There wasn’t instant attraction, and I’m glad the author chose that route. Instead, Sarah feels guilty about her growing feelings for Jack, due to Donna’s long-standing interest in him. Jack fights against it first, because of the inappropriateness of the situation, and later because of his potential career change. I also liked that Jack discusses with Sarah whether leaving Texas for Hollywood (without his sister and mother) is the right thing to do, and Sarah — heart hurting — tells him that he’d eventually regret it and come to resent those who mean the most to him.
This is the second book I’ve read by this author. And like the previous one, there are secondary romances going on in the background. Kate gets her very own knight in shining armor, and even Donna isn’t left heartbroken.
Started: 18 August 2009
Finished: 31 August 2009