When Gwen Maudsley is left at the altar, again, she begins to rethink her constantly nice strategy. Her parents were rich merchants who wanted their daughter to move in elite circles and so she has worked hard to make everyone like her, but now she thinks this is a fruitless endeavor. Alex Ramsey was Richard Maudsley's best friend and he has never forgiven himself for the unfortunate circumstances surrounding Richard's death. Richard had become incensed when he believed Alex had a tendre for his sister and had gone off to a dangerous gambling hall where he is shot and killed. Because of this Alex has spent the last few years traveling the globe and only returned when his sisters wanted him to discover why their older brother, the ____ of Weston, had sold off a property. When Gwen decides that she is going to live her life on the wild side, Alex issues of a challenge of sort of challenge by claiming she could never do it.
He is shocked when Gwen heads to Paris to chase down her ex- fiance while he is there trying to find Barrington, the man who bought his brother's property. He escorts her on quite a scandalous journey through Paris, visiting sidewalk cafes, strolling at night, and going inside the elephant at the Moulin Rouge. When it is Gwen who finagles an invitation to Barrington's house party, Alex wonders if he has pegged Gwen wrong all these years. She is still trying hard to not care so much what people think about her and Alex is worried that he will give in to the feelings he has tried to suppress for so long. When someone from London sees Alex and Gwen on their trip, the two have no choice but to wed, or at least pretend to wed. But Gwen is determined to find a man who can provide a stable family for her and does not think Alex is that man. Alex needs to show Gwen that she has the courage to take a risk with him and really become wicked.
The book was not slow, per se, but it did move along at a rather sedate pace. There was quite a lot of self reflection throughout the book by both characters and while a certain amount of it is really necessary, it got to be a tad too much for me. They both had these amazingly deep hidden depths that should have been discussed, thought about, and worked through. Instead it led to quite a lot of time with them wondering if they needed to completely rethink themselves. I complain sometimes when there's not enough dialogue, but in this case there was just too much of it and too much time was spent in their heads. Their interactions tended to consist of them talking un- amusing verbal circles around each other or him throwing down challenges for her to behave in more outrageous ways. He seemed to genuinely want her to break out of her shell, but instead of helping her he just made it harder for her by going about it in completely inappropriate ways.
I really liked the idea behind her going from goody goody to this crazy wild child, but there was so much discussion and dissection of everything she did and did not do that it really took all of the fun out of it. In addition, she didn't do anything too scandalous and sometimes it seemed like she was being more rude than wild. Both Gwen and Alex had some really well developed emotional trauma from their childhood that did completely explain some of their neuroses and problems. At least the discussions did manage to address all of these issues and they worked on them together and really only managed to get over them through the others' help. The sex between them was pretty hot but it did not come until practically the end of the book and there was not quite enough of it, especially since this was supposed to be about her going wild. The side plot with the property was interesting, not too overwhelming, and resolved quite amusingly.
Rating: I really did want to like this book, but the "wicked-ness" was not really all that wicked and the book devolved into semi-maudling emotional discourse.