TITLE: A Little Bit Wicked
AUTHOR: Victoria Alexander
STARTED: April 7, 2007
FINISHED: April 9, 2007
FIRST SENTENCE: "Very well then."
SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] No man in his right mind would want to get married, but every duke, earl, and viscount knows that a fellow must do his duty in the end. So four of London's most desirable gentlemen make a wager—the prize going to the one who remains unwed the longest.
Gideon Pearsall, Viscount Warton, thinks he has a fair shot at winning. After all, he's managed to enjoy the favors of many a lady while resisting the parson's noose. Even when he's stopped dead in his tracks by the most scandalous woman in all of London—Judith, Lady Chester—he vows to have her bedded but never wedded.
Beautiful, and more than a little bit naughty, Judith has always kept herself within the bounds of respectability, even while playing by her own rules. And the experience has taught her to avoid marriage. She has no desire to resist Warton's hot kisses, and his tempting touch is impossible to ignore.REASON FOR READING: Again, Alexander has yet to steer my wrong.
THOUGHTS: Finally! A romance novel that feels real. It has been so long since I read a romance that came anywhere close to portraying real life characters and storylines. Sure, in theory, Judith and Warton are your stock Regency characters, but Alexander crafts them in such way that they come alive as real people. What I loved most about this book is that it does not fall into the typical romance trap of needing an OMG! Big Misunderstanding, instead Alexander has created a plot that puts two people together and they must figure out how to realistically make it work.
Judith is a widow with a less-than-stellar first marriage (though she does not realize that at first). Her experience makes it believable that she would not relish the idea of being married again. Instead she has a few "adventures" with men - the most current of which is our hero, Warton. Warton is your typical Regency Romance male. He does not want to marry (in this case again) because the ole' ball-and-change bit is not his bag, baby (also, in his head, marriage = sucky betrayal). Instead, he decides to embark on a little fun with Judith our merry-widow.
What results is two characters who enjoy the ardent passion and intelligence of one another's company. Neither expected to fall for the other. The whole plot of the book is about the two of them figuring out that they do actually love the other person but have the problem of making it work. Alexander does a fantastic job of not relying on the old "irrational jealousy" bit. Sure there is jealousy, but in amounts that are completely believable. Warton sees his woman kissing another man, but he does not react by storming out, throwing a hissy fit, or asking the unwanted male who his second should be? He simply quarks an eyebrow than makes it known to our heroine that he'll be sticking around for awhile - in a manner that makes me want to own a pool table.
I applaud Alexander for not making her heroine a TSTL, virginal ninny. Judith knows what she wants and goes for it - without coming across as brash or stubborn as a mule. She simply enjoys the freedom of her station in a way that is completely realistic. Who would expect a 30-or-so-year old widow to abstain from playtime? And thank you, Victoria, for not giving Judith some steel-made hymen that remained magically intact through a 3-year marriage.
When our hero's ex-wife (the closest we come to the OMG Big Misunderstanding in the book) returns to the scene to throw a monkey wrench between our couple, said couple reacts in a way that makes the ex-wife look as stupid and selfish as she really is. Alexander does not allow outside forces to come between the couple. They merely have to work things out for themselves.
This was an incredibly addictive read that has still stuck with me to this day. The only thing that kept it from being a keeper was the Tied-With-a-Bow ending. Alexander is a good writer, and I was expecting just a tad bit more form her. That said, this is one of her best books - and quite a nice change from the usual Regencies that are dominating the romance shelves these days.
As a side note: Who wrote the blurb for this book? They're an idiot. Judith is not the "most scandalous" woman in the ton. That's just you exaggerating for sales. Did you actually read the book?
MISCELLANEOUS: I want stripedy stockings...
KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): PBS (but just barely)
RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]