Friday, September 3, 2010
"A Little Bit Wild" by Victoria Dahl
Disclaimer: I purchased the book.
Time and Setting: Victorian England (Lincolnshire, 1847)
I have to admit that one thing that had me a bit worried was the way the heroine was described in some reviews I read. I do tend to prefer the "proper" lady type of character, even if the lady in question is older chronologically speaking or someone with sexual experience but who is not particularly promiscuous. So I picked up the book not entirely sure if I was going to be able to get past the first chapter. As you have probably guessed by now, I was quite happy when I didn't find myself put off by Marissa.
Marissa is in her early 20s, but despite her age and the way she behaves, she does come across as somewhat naive, believe it or not. She doesn't know herself, she doesn't really understand lust and her own impulses, she's somewhat spoiled though not exactly bratty. She's also intelligent and she does care for her family despite her being the sort that responds to her own lusty impulses, though some may argue that giving headaches to her mother and her brothers isn't exactly the way to show that she cares.
Jude is in his late 20s. He is big, brawny and described more than once as flat out "ugly". He looks like a brawler more than anything else. He's the bastard son of a Duke, though his father recognized him and embraced him as his. He had a good life while living with his father and though he is a bastard, he's fine with his lot in life. His mother is a French courtesan.
I can't recall when was the last time that I read a hero that was sensuality incarnate. He's flat out SEXY. I loved that his sensuality was almost palpable. Another thing that I loved about him was that he truly accepted Marissa as she is and even liked her for being how she was, having noticed her "wildness" when no one else seemed to. Apparently Marissa was considered a paragon of propriety... but Jude knew better. I think I now have Jude at the top of my list of favorite romance novel heroes. I truly fell in love with him. I felt for him when, almost at the end, he is suffering because of a few things Marissa said without really thinking.
I don't think I need to go into a lot of details about the story. Marissa, in one of her impulsive moments, loses her virginity and gets caught by her own family once the act is over and done with. Though the man that took it wants to marry her, she refuses as she's not in love with him and much less, after he pretty much reveals that he planned to ruin her in order to force her into marrying him (she had rejected his proposals twice). As the family discusses what to do and decide that the only viable solution is to have her find a proper suitor and fast, Jude steps in (he's a close friend of Aidan's, one of Marissa's brothers) and offers to fill in that role. He likes the York family and has been attracted to Marissa for quite a while, though she never noticed him at all. She couldn't even remember who he was even though they had been introduced in the past. She pretty much didn't take any notice of him because of his ugliness, as she tends to prefer "pretty boy" types.
The story unravels as they get to know each other better and Jude endeavors to make Marissa want him for a husband, because he wants her for keeps.
The story also has a bit of suspense almost at the end, the conflict between the couple happens almost at the end as well and is resolved rather quickly, though it did not bother me at all, I hate melodrama.
The author's writing style flows nicely and I didn't feel that the story dragged/bored me at any point.
Although the sex scenes didn't depart from the current standard in mainstream historical romance, they were nicely written as well. I really didn't feel that there needed to be more sex in the story to make it work, though.
Overall, I really enjoyed watching Marissa grow as a character and also how she learned the difference between lust and love, when she realized that she had fallen in love with Jude. Though I am not exactly sure Jude was exactly in love with Marissa at the beginning of the story, it was definitely a certainty midway through the story. I would have loved to learn more about his past and also to see Marissa's meeting with his mother.
I am looking forward to the next installment in this series, though from what I could see online, I am in for a LONG wait, as it doesn't come out until next year :(