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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Review: The Trouble with Being Wicked by Emma Locke

Format: epub (provided by author)
Release Date: December 18, 2012

He Put Her On A Pedestal...
When Celeste Gray arrives in the sleepy village of Brixcombe-on-the-Bay, she thinks she's one step closer to leaving her notorious past behind. She even suspects the deliciously handsome—if somewhat stuffy—viscount next door is developing a tendre for her. That is, until the day Ashlin Lancester learns she's not the unassuming spinster she's pretending to be.

Now She Has Farther To Fall
After a decade of proving he is nothing like his profligate father, Ash is horrified to have given his heart to a Cyprian. He launches a campaign to prove his attraction is nothing more than a sordid reaction he can't control. But he soon learns that unlike his father, he can't find comfort in the arms of just any woman. He needs Celeste. When he takes her as his mistress, he's still not satisfied, and the many late nights in her arms only make him want more...

It is a tricky thing, writing a historical romance novel where the heroine is a courtesan, it doesn't always work. The story has to be somewhat realistic. Society in 1814 wasn't terribly forgiving or accepting of courtesans as anything more than what they were. Much less in London, among people of rank and strict social rules. It takes more than just making the heroine likable, it takes some real thought and effort.

Emma Locke's novel The Trouble with Being Wicked gives readers two great characters who really shouldn't fall in love, but as all great characters often do, they find themselves yearning to be with each other while struggling to find a place in a society that doesn't fully welcome either one of them.

Ashlin Lancester is a good man, a little stuffy but he has his reasons and they're not as easy to dismiss as one might think. Ash's parents were involved in a scandal that has defined his life. Years ago, his mother murdered his father and then committed suicide in what appeared to be a fit of jealous rage. Because of that, Ash is determined to walk a straight and proper line, not just for his own sake but for the sake of his sisters Delilah and Lucy.

Celeste is a caring, intelligent woman who just happens to be a courtesan, masquerading as a lady's companion. Very poorly I might add. Celeste is used to being direct and not bowing down to anyone, which is what makes Ash suspicious of her and her friend Elizabeth from the beginning. Despite having been a courtesan for many years and acquiring vast wealth, Celeste still longs for the things money cannot buy: A family with a good man that she loves and who loves her in return.

The Trouble with Being Wicked mostly takes place in the country side, an unusual place to find courtesans and the drama that inevitably follows them but it works for this story. The setting allows for less outside interference and more time for Ash and Celeste to develop and nurture feelings for one another. The Trouble with Being Wicked has a slow pace that can become tedious at times, with too many descriptive phrases and interruptions from the issue at hand: Ash and Celeste's forbidden romance.

There's quite a supporting cast in The Trouble with Being Wicked as well. Ash's two younger sisters may at first seem like spoiled girls seeking attention but the truth is, they know what they want out of life and resent Ash treating them as if he knows what is best for them. Delilah and Lucy do take rather drastic measures to secure their goals though and don't give much of a thought as to how it would affect Ash's life or his marriage prospects. That was rather selfish that their brother would be so willing to give up what would make him happy in order to secure good matches for his sisters but his sisters do not have the same consideration for him.

There's also Celeste's friend Elizabeth who will get her chance at love in the second book in the series and Ashlin's friend Lord Montbourne who seems more like my kind of hero. The haunted kind that has lived a life he now regrets and has become a victim of his own reputation. He is the hero of the third book in this series and I honestly cannot wait until it is released.

The Trouble with Being Wicked is a passionate, angst filled story that adult fans of historical romance will appreciate and want to add to their TBR lists.

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