STORY: The only thing Miss Melissa Goodly has ever wanted out of a marriage is love. But any hope of that dissolves one wild night, when she loses herself in the arms of the most irresistible-and unobtainable-man in all of England. For when they are discovered in a position as compromising as it is pleasurable, she has no choice but to accept his proposal.
Avowed bachelor Anthony Craven, Earl of Wickham, never meant to seduce an innocent like Melissa. Yet now that the damage is done, it does seem like she’d make a very convenient wife. After all, she is so naive he won’t have to worry about ever being tempted. Or so he thinks, until the vows are spoken and they are left alone-and his new bride reveals a streak just as brazen and unrestrained as his own…
REVIEW: Oh, where do I begin? I guess with a warning that there are some SPOILERS ahead, so read this review at your peril!
Before buying the book, I read some of it and thought it would be really very good. Here’s what got me to buy this book:
“The rogue society dubbed ‘The Lord of Wicked’ lurked in the dimly lit recesses of Lady Sudbury’s ballroom. To most people the room was the epitome of warmth, with its blaze of candles and displayed finery, but for Anthony James Craven, the fifth Earl of Wickham, it held absolutely no appeal.
He was here to partake in his favorite pastime –sin and vice. Appetites a notorious rake craved drew him like a malefactor summoned to hell. Thanks to his father, he was full of sin. Sin he could never atone for. Instead, he chose to lose himself in pleasure. Pleasure, at least temporarily, helped him block the memories he would give his very soul to forget.
He kept to the shadows, hiding from the sycophantic throng, while he searched for the one woman who’d enticed him into breaking all his own rules and attending the event of the Season.
His lips curved in anticipation of the night’s forthcoming liaison. He raised a glass of burgundy to his mouth in mock salute, letting the alcohol take the sting out of the unenviable position of having to hide from mothers of young unmarried daughters.
In the concealing darkness he felt the primitive stirrings of the hunter. His eyes had begun seeking their prey as soon as he’d arrived, over an hour ago. He sank deeper into the shadows, searching for the flesh-and-blood goddess he intended to seduce.
Lady Cassandra Sudbury, a curvaceous young widow with a taste for the erotic would be his by the end of the night. Anthony stirred from his position propped against the ballroom wall and observed his quarry’s bold approach.
With each dainty step she took towards him, his amusement grew. She worked her way through the masses with an air of innocence reborn, yet if tales were to be believed, Cassandra could corrupt a nunnery.
The blazing draft-buffeted wall candles cast flickers over her burnt-orange silk dress, which indecently hugged her every curve. The gleaming Sudbury diamonds, attracting as much attention as her cleavage, emphasized her pale slender neck. Like an opium pipe to an addict, the exposed skin called out for him to lick, suck, and taste.
Moist pink lips parted in an inviting smile. Cassandra moved behind him using one delicate hand to cup his left buttock, while the other slid under his evening jacket and up his back. Her soft-form molded itself against him, her person hidden from the crowds in the ballroom by his height and size.
‘Lord Wickham, is there a reason you’re lurking in the shadows?’ Her husky voice caressed him more than the insistent fingers stroking his backside through his tight, and ever tightening, black breeches. Both tactics achieved their desired outcome. His member instantly stood to attention and Anthony smiled to himself. Lady Cassie, as he preferred to call her, was just out of mourning, and she was playing with fire.
Anthony let his silence hang expectantly before murmuring, ‘I knew if I ignored the most beautiful woman in the room she’d come to me.’
Light laughter mocked his senses as she moved to stand directly in front of him. ‘You know me so well.’ She trailed her hand over his hip to rub the most intimate part of him, her body shielding her actions from the pomp and ceremony in front of them. ‘Something’s hard…,’ Her hand moved more purposely. ‘Speaking of coming…’
Anthony soaked in the beauty of the woman bold enough to service him in full view of her guests. Very soon she would be his mistress; this very night, in fact. He’d waited long enough.
He did not move, nor give any sign of the sparks searing through his body at the practiced fingers stroking him. ‘If you do not still your hand I won’t be responsible for my actions.’
She gave a throaty laugh. ‘In view of the guests? I don’t think so.’
Gritting his teeth, he flashed Lady Cassie a taut smile. ‘Take a peek over my shoulder, sweetheart.’ His jaw tighten as he struggled to control his body. ‘Where do you think that door leads? If you don’t behave, I’ll pull you into the billiard room, lock the door and ravish you on the table until you can no longer walk.’ He lifted her free hand and kissed the air above her glove. ‘Guests or no guests.’
At his promise she moaned softly and he felt her fingers tremble with desire. Cassie stood on tiptoes to whisper in his ear, ‘Come to my bed tonight and we shall see who wears out whom.’
If she thought he’d not accept the challenge, she was sorely mistaken. Cassandra thrived on games of flirtation. Anthony thrived on challenge.
He inwardly smiled as she peeped up at him from beneath incredibly long lashes and rubbed her hand longingly one more time, caressing his erection to the point of pain, before she set him free. “Tonight?” she whispered.
Anthony’s pulse ratcheted up a notch as Lady Cassie moved close, pressing her plump white breasts against his waistcoat. “Do not keep me waiting,” she almost pleaded, tapping his chest with her fan before drifting off to converse with her other guests.
He watched her swaying hips. She wouldn’t have to wait.
Lady Cassie’s beauty had driven Anthony to the point of madness over the past week. He felt like a thoroughbred racehorse that hadn’t been run in over a month. Now he’d been given his head, he wanted Lady Cassie – rumored to be the most beautiful woman in all England – with a need verging on desperation.
She had jet black tresses, almost a midnight blue in the candlelight, framing creamy milk skin that made you want to lick from toe to breast and back again. He almost lost himself in her exotically framed feline eyes, their color such a vibrant green they appeared to be made of emeralds. Lady Cassandra Sudbury came packaged in a body so curvaceous, so soft, it would drive a saint to sin.
And Lord knew Anthony was no saint.”
It had a lot going for it even though we read this theme many times before. The opening scenes in this book promised so much, but by the second chapter the Author lost me completely. Our Hero and Heroine’s “ruin” moment was rushed and forced, no pun intended. It lacked emotion and movement, again no pun intended. It left me rolling my eyes and feeling cheated somehow. They meet at a ball where he fully intends on making her cousin his mistress and thinks her a poor imitation of her cousin, she on the other hand has had fantasies of him in spite her knowledge of his interest in her cousin. Fast forward to her bedchamber, and she’s sound asleep, he comes in thinking he’s in her cousin’s room and proceeds with intercourse. SHE THINKS SHE’S DREAMING!!! At this point I’m annoyed with this scenario, but hey! I bought the book, so let’s continue with it, shall we? You never know, it just might get better…
Oh, but wait…what do they do when they both realize the “mistake”? Do they both jump out of bed? Is she angry at him for violating her in such a way? I mean what would a normal virgin do when she awakes in the middle of the night with a man INSIDE her? Now, keep in mind, our Heroine is a VIRGIN, for crying out loud! Melissa lets him STAY there!!! Am I to believe that she slept through all this? I just couldn’t see it; it made no sense, no logic. And what about our Hero? Is he upset with her and does he stop when he realizes the mistake? Guess what? I’ll let you read it for yourself, and you be the judge:
“’What sort of trick is this?’ His voice was low and deadly in her ear.
She tried to turn to face him, wiggling in this strong grip.
‘Christ, do not…move…do not…wiggle…oh my God.’”
Melissa felt him surge inside her. Once, twice, his grip on her arms vice like. She knew her skin would be bruised in the morning. He all but roared in her ear, his breath coming in ragged pants. He was trying desperately to withdraw from her, but in her frantic panic they seemed to tangle further.”
GIVE ME A BREAK!!!! So our Hero KNOWINGLY takes a woman without her consent. And what do we call this? There’s only one name for it: RAPE! At this point I’m just fuming for paying $14.00 for this “book”.
Our Heroine shows array of emotions and none make sense to me as a reader, and I’m sure to her either! Is she hurt because she’s been abused, or are her feelings hurt because he’s not paying more attention to her? Just read it for yourself:
“Stunned, she curled into a ball and lay completely still. She was the one who had just been violated, yet he rolled away from her as if he’d been burned by a flame. He made sure he was no longer touching her, as though she were diseased.
Her temper flared at his dismissal of her. She rolled onto her side, facing him, trying to ignore the dull ache between her thighs, noticeable, along with the wetness.”
Get it? They’re STILL in bed! From there on, I just skimmed and wanted to get the torture over with.
Their romance wasn’t believable to me and the compromising scene was very uncomfortable to read. Our couple lacks a strong emotional connection. I guess I was supposed to read between the lines and understand “the connection”, but I didn’t. And until almost the end of the book (the ONLY part of the story that has some tension) where he shares his past with her, and even then it is almost not as climactic as it should have been, it all seems stilted, underdeveloped somehow. Everyone in this story was one-dimensional, uninspiring, predictable and plain boring, even the villains! It’s not that only the characters are poorly developed, even the plot of Slavery left me cold. It was not used well and came of as an excuse, rather than a legitimate story. I just couldn’t get over the beginning of the story.
This could have been such a great story of redemption, but it felt flat and boring.
Celeste Bradley’s debut novel “Fallen (2001)” was somewhat on this theme, so please find it and read it so you can compare the two. In it you’ll find out how a heroine should and did react to a man coming into her room uninvited. I highly recommend it.
I usually give an author a second chance, but I simply do not see the point here.