A Little Bit Wicked
A Little Bit Wicked is published by Avon and the heroine is a widow. No, she’s not a virgin – actually she’s had several lovers and doesn’t want to re-marry. When she decides to have a little fling with the rakish hero, they both find that their emotions are engaged in a way that they didn’t intend.
At the beginning of the book, we meet four friends who’ve formed a club, the sole purpose of which is to bet on who will be the last one left unmarried. All the men realize that sooner or later they will marry – obligations to the family name and all that – but they’d rather it was later than sooner. The last man married will get a prize – four shillings and a bottle of cognac. So who’s going to be the last man standing? Among themselves, the men agree it’s probably going to be Gideon Pearsall, Viscount Warton.
At a reception, Gideon steps out for some air and runs into Lady Judith Chester, a woman whom he has known for a number of years. For most of that time, he considered her just another woman in society. However several months earlier at the Twelfth Month Ball, they were both struck by an overwhelming desire for each other and now they plan a discrete assignation. Judith is a widow who has had several lovers, and as Gideon is unattached, both expect to follow the usual pattern; a supper, a concert, a trip to a museum, and only after a few meetings would they make love. But when they meet at Judith’s house for supper, passion overwhelms both of them and they tumble into bed. Even though they have jumped the gun a bit, they agree to a liaison that will last as long as they want it to…no strings, no commitments.
Their intentions to keep things cool don’t last long. Gideon in particular finds himself feeling jealous of Judith’s former lovers and even her dead husband. He wants to find out more about her, but is disconcerted when she refuses to talk about her late husband and becomes angry when he presses her. As for Judith, she is consumed with guilt and doesn’t think she is worthy of being happy.
Judith and her husband married young. They were deeply in love when they married and for a time they were blissful. When he began have temper fits, she was disconcerted and then alarmed when his temper began to be more and more violent. Eventually Judith found out he was unfaithful and when he accused her of infidelity, she struck back at him. He responded by beating and assaulting her, so she locked him out of the bedroom and turned a deaf ear to his pleadings. The next morning, she found him dead under the balcony. Since then, Judith has blamed herself for his death and her guilt has been reinforced by her sister in law, who does not like Judith at all.
Gideon has had his share of heartbreak. When he was young, he was persuaded by a young woman named Violet to marry her so she would not have to marry the man her parents had chosen for her. They were caught and the marriage was annulled and it turned out that Violet had wanted to marry the man all along and had used Gideon to get what she wanted. Her betrayal caused Gideon to harden his heart toward the female sex.
The beginning of the book is quite wonderful, Gideon and Judith are interesting characters and their first encounter is sexy and hot as can be. Then the book slows down to a crawl. We get a lot of information on the character’s pasts, several secondary characters show up, including Violet, who is now a widow and searching for a second husband. Judith and Gideon pull back from each other and spend more time musing to themselves than communicating with each other. Finally Judith learns the truth about her husband’s death and all misunderstandings are cleared away in time for the happy ending.
The first part of this book was a treat to read. The building up of attraction between Judith and Gideon was handled very well and I though that I had a wonderful read on my hands. However, the rest of the book was so slow that I sometimes felt like I was reading the same thing over and over again. The secondary characters simply weren’t that interesting and I longed for more time with Judith and Gideon. I was especially fond of Judith, who seemingly had everything she could want. She was beautiful, rich, and could do anything without answering to anyone. Yet she was lonely and longed for love and companionship. Gideon felt the same way, but since he had been burned once, he feared trusting anyone.
Although the first part of the book is wonderful, in the end A Little Bit Wicked was no more than a slightly better than average read. Gideon and Judith made a great pair, and I was happy to see that she was not an Avon cliche virgin widow. There are three more members of the club, and one of them is an American. I might have to check his story out, but as for the rest of the group – it just depends on how I feel. The slow second half of the book didn’t really whet my appetite for the rest of the series.