A Little Bit Wicked by Victoria Alexandra
Judith Chester is a widow who has gained a fair bit of notoriety in London society for engaging in a few trysts since her husband died ten years ago. Gideon Pearsall, Viscount Warton, has recently made a wager with three friends and the winner is to be the last of the four to get married. Gideon is certain he will win this bet due to his past experience with a marriage that lasted less than a day and turned out to be merely a ruse to make the woman's real fiance jealous. When Judith and Gideon give in to the passion they've felt for each other since first encountering each other at a ball, friends and family of both are worried that both of them are getting in over their heads. Gideon's Aunt Louisa does her best to make sure everyone knows how unsuitable Violet is for a wife and Judith's friend Susanna, Lady Dinsmore, warns Judith off Gideon for fear he'll break her heart.
To absolutely no one's surprise the two do begin to develop deeper feelings for each other. These feelings are made all the more complicated when Gideon's former wife (the marriage was annulled) shows up intent to get him back and Gideon has trouble over looking Judith's past indiscretions especially when one of them is a friend of his and continues to have (only) a friendship with Judith. Judith has her own troubled history with love and marriage which complicates things further when Gideon feels ready to admit his feelings. Her marriage, despite outward appearances and everything Judith says publically, was anything but perfect and has made her wary of placing herself in another man's control, showing her feelings, and especially of trusting a jealous man. It takes a lot of trust, and the involvement of numerous friends and family members to get these two to find their happily-ever-after.
I was reluctant to read any more Alexander books after the dreadful "The Perfect Wife," but I was certainly glad I picked this up. Violet was one of the more interesting heroines I've read and I certainly liked how she wasn't the typical grieving widow in all aspects. She wasn't sexless, she'd had decent sex although, of course, she Gideon is by far the best she's ever had and she lets down her guard far more with him than with her previous lovers. And I like how Gideon is portrayed as a (slightly) reformed rake whose had his crazy wild year after he lost the woman he thought he loved, but has settled down to a life of slightly too much booze and women- not a man who hops from bed to bed and then finds the right woman and BAM! settles down right away. I also found the secondary characters enjoyable, from the other wager-ers whose stories I look forward to reading, to Aunt Louisa who is hilarious even if she does follow the stereotype of overbearing older female relations, to the two "villians" of the story. Both Judith's ex-sister-in-law and Gideon's ex-wife are conniving, mean, horrible, and completely understandable.
The dialgoue is some of the best I've readin a romance novels- the conversations are hilarious, sad, angsty, thought-provoking, and a delight to read. There was no crazy side-plot, all we had to focus on was the great romance. And there was a nice little amount of angst, although it's not really dwelled on at all, just kind of taked about and forgotten wiich actually made more sense considering the protagonists and the situations. My complaints about the book are few admittedly; I don't understand why everyone in romance novels seem to assume that when an upper-class women have sexual relations they must fall in love or be totally aloof and and the actual love they both speak of at the end seems to have come out of nowhere. I am not a fan of overly love-provoking heroines or heroes (like showing repeatedly how good they are to children) but I do like to read about the relationship developing, not just have "I love him/ her"'s thrown in seemingly randomly.
Rating: I would probably give this book 3 1/2 hearts, but I don't do that so I'll give it four sinc e it was 100 times better than the last book of hers I reviewed. It was fun, great characters, great dialogue, but didn't really have much relationship development which is of course important.