Desert Isle Keeper
A Wicked Kind of Husband
I love it when I pick up a book by a début or new-to-me author and find myself quickly engrossed by it – which is exactly what happened with Mia Vincy’s A Wicked Kind of Husband. I’m a sucker for a good marriage-of-convenience story, and this IS a good one; well defined, complex characters, strong writing and excellent dialogue, all combine to make this an entertaining and emotionally satisfying read, and one I’d urge fans of the genre to check out.
The second eldest of four sisters, Cassandra DeWitt has been the linchpin holding her family together since her father’s unexpected death a couple of years earlier. Her mother exists in her own, laudanum-fuelled world and her eldest sister is married and lives elsewhere with her husband, so it’s fallen to Cassandra to manage the household, estate and her two younger sisters… who have no concept of all that Cassandra does for them and certainly no appreciation for it. For some months, the behaviour of nineteen-year-old Lucy has been becoming increasingly outrageous; Cassandra realises that being cooped up away from society is the likely cause, and that it’s time to find her sister a husband. In order to do that, however, Lucy will need to make her society début, which means going to London… something Cassandra hasn’t done in the two years since her marriage to wealthy industrialist Joshua DeWitt – whom she hasn’t seen since their wedding night.
Cassandra’s father arranged her marriage in order to enable her to continue to reside at of Sunne Park after his death, and she didn’t question it, because at the time, she was still reeling from the fact that the man she loved had eloped with someone else. She recalls very little about her bridegroom other than that he was rude and abrupt, and is content to have nothing whatsoever to do with him. For the past two years, it’s suited her to remain in Warwickshire – in accordance with Mr. DeWitt’s preference (read – insistence) that she stay there – but she can do so no longer; she determines to approach her grandmother, the Duchess of Sherbourne, to ask her to sponsor Lucy’s season, and in order to do that, Cassandra will have to go to London. As luck would have it, Mr. DeWitt is due to travel to Liverpool, so as long as Cassandra times her visit to take place whilst he is away, he won’t even know she’s in London. You know what they say about the best laid plans…
I’m sure there’s no need for me to elaborate more on the plot, but the journey on which Ms. Vincy takes her characters – and her readers – is an exceptionally entertaining and insightful one, as Mr. and Mrs. DeWitt match wits (!) cross (metaphorical) swords and slowly find that their arranged marriage has become far more than the mutually convenient union it was initially supposed to be.
Joshua DeWitt grew up as heir to the Earl of Treyford and was, until the age of fourteen, as pampered and privileged as any other scion of the peerage. But his life, and that of his siblings, changed drastically when the earl was discovered to have married their mother bigamously, and the former countess disappeared, along with her daughter, and Joshua and his two brothers were cast out and left to their own devices. Joshua went to work in Birmingham and thanks to the unlooked for kindness and aid from a stranger – Cassandra’s father – settled his brothers in their chosen professions, built himself a trading empire and now owns “four factories, three estates and a growing fleet”. He may no longer have the social standing he once did, but money talks:
“They recoil because he is an industrialist, but receive him because his investments make them rich… meanwhile he goes where he pleases, says what he pleases and no one dares get in his way.”
Joshua is blunt, devoid of tact, lacks patience, doesn’t suffer fools at ALL, let alone gladly, and full of energy and ideas. He likes his life as it is and is used to being obeyed without question by everyone around him, so the sudden appearance of the woman he married in order to repay his obligation to her father is unwelcome and irritating. He wants to pack her off back to Warwickshire; she has no intention of leaving until she has secured her grandmother’s agreement to sponsor Lucy.
But even as he is adamant that Cassandra must leave London, Joshua is reluctantly impressed by his wife’s determination and her ability to give as good as she gets:
“You’re meant to be in Warwickshire,” he said.
“You’re meant to be in Liverpool.”
“I did not give you permission to come to London.”
“I did not ask your permission.”
“You should… Let me explain, Mrs. DeWitt, how marriage works.”
“Oh, please do, Mr. DeWitt, I’m all agog.”
“I am the husband, so I make the rules to suit me.”
“And I am the wife, so I change the rules to suit me.”
And worse… she might even be likeable. Which would be disastrous.
“You seem puzzled,” said his disruptive wife, as they reached the gate. “Have I said something to puzzle you?”
“Most of what you say puzzles me. It’s almost as though you have a mind of your own.”
“Please don’t vex yourself. I’ll try not to use it too often.”
Cassandra is an admirable heroine, one who operates within the conventions of society but still manages to be anything but the meek, obedient spouse those conventions suggest she should be. She’s quick witted and easily able to hold her own against her irascible husband, but there’s a hidden vulnerability to her, too, a vulnerability that Joshua soon recognises lying behind her suddenly fixed smiles and diplomatic manner which speaks to his protective nature and makes him want to fix all her problems and encourage her to “stop giving up your space. Fight for what is yours.”
Both principals are compelling, likeable but flawed characters who leap off the page, and the secondary cast is also superbly drawn and rounded out. Neither Joshua nor Cassandra is your usual, stock-in-trade historical romance character, the chemistry between them is terrific, and their frequent verbal sparring is a complete delight.
“What happened to you last night?” she said. “It looks like someone punched you in the face.”
“Does that happen often?”
She took a knife and quartered her pear.
“Is that it?” he said
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“That’s all you have to say? ‘Oh.’” She looked at him blankly. “Where’s the love and sympathy, wife? You aren’t wondering what happened? You aren’t wondering if I’m in pain? You aren’t wondering if your dear husband will be all right?”
“Mainly I’m wondering why you don’t get punched in the face more often.”
The author has managed to put her own spin on a very well-worn plot device, bringing a degree of unpredictability to her story that enables it to transcend the trope. Her writing is intelligent and energetic, and the story is by turns funny, poignant, sexy, angsty and, most importantly, romantic.
With that said, the book does have a few flaws; Lucy’s antics are a bit over the top and there’s some anachronistic dialogue and behaviour in places, but otherwise, A Wicked Kind of Husband is one of the best historical romances I’ve read all year; a sparkling début that’s landed Mia Vincy very firmly on my list of authors to watch.
Buy it at: Amazon
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|Review Date:||January 2, 2019|
|Book Type:||Historical Romance|
|Review Tags:||enemies to lovers | Longhope Abbey series | Marriage of convenience | troubled marriage | Troubled Relationship|
Which year is the book set in?
I just checked my copy, and a date isn’t actually given. I can’t remember offhand if there are any other references in the book that point to it, but I seem to remember thinking it’s late-Regency, maybe 1820s. It’s definitely the first part of the 19th century.
Late to the party, but I just finished this. What a treat! The writing was intelligent. The banter between the H/h, the repartee, it was like catnip for me. And although a few expressions–such as “polite-speak”–jarred, OTOH there was not a “morphed” or “repurposed” in sight, So, well done, Author!
Excellent – I’m so glad :) I just revisited it in audio format, narrated by Kate Reading, and it’s fantastic.
I’m listening to this one, I’ve completed about half of it. What a wonderful story! There have been a dearth of HRs this year, but the wit and the banter in this are reminding me strongly of Loretta Chase. The narration is by Kate Reading, who usually does Chase’s books, so that is perhaps intensifying that impression. Regardless, I am loving this book and will almost certainly be up all night listening.
IT’S SO GOOD! I am still blown away whenever I remember it’s a debut, too. Can’t wait for her next one. I’m glad you’re enjoying it!
As predicted, I was up all night. I really loved it, and I’m hoping that the rest of the series is up to this standard. I’m certainly looking forward to finding out.
Good news ladies – the author told me a couple of days ago that the next book will be out sometime in the second half of November :)
Bought and read this book entirely on your recommendation (as I generally agree with your reviews) and it did not disappoint! Thankfully I timed it well enough and did not have to stay up toooo late to finish, but I did shed quite a few tears and had to stifle my laughter at times as well. Glad you’ve turned me onto this author and her upcoming releases!
I’m so glad! (There’s nothing worse than raving about a book to someone who ends up not liking it!)
I’m interested to see who she pairs Lucy with. I so hope it is NOT Aiden.
Is that the next story? She teases the upcoming stories & I remember thinking I didn’t recognize the names. I thought perhaps they were generational like the Kleypas or Stuart (Rohan) books. I’m probably confused.
I think the next story is about her friend who owns the publishing house.
She says this is actually book three (I think) in the series chronologically. One of the others is about Cassandra’s friend Arabella – who in this book is happily married to the Marquess of Harbury. Another is about the Duke of Damerton – who is divorced, and the other about the Earl of Luxborough, who I think gets a mention in this one. I don’t know what order they’ll be coming out in, though.
I don’t think Lucy is the heroine in ANY of them. Which I’m kinda pleased about seeing she was such a total brat in this one!
OMG…the quotes. Such marvelous turns of phrase! I think I will grab this next time I need pure entertainment.
I promise you there are MANY more where those came from – my Kindle is full of highlighted passages!
Thank you for this review! This sounds amazing. (And how often is it these days that debut historical authors get glowing reviews? I hope this is a sign that 2019 will be a better year for the historical than 2018 was.)
I have about ten pages to go and I never want it to end. I wasn’t feeling the hero at the start, but OMG I love him now. And this novel. It’s terrific.
You’re welcome. It’s a really good debut and I’m excited to read more from Mia Vincy – which is something I haven’t been able to say for quite some time. HR made a VERY poor showing in 2018 and like you, I’m hoping for better in 2019,
Oh so interiguing. I think, I will click purchase on Amazon. Immediately.
I stayed up way too late last night reading this–it is not the book to start at 11pm! Her writing is so lovely. The plot reminds me a bit of Amanda Weaver’s A Duchess in Name but is much more light-hearted.
Yes! And I loved that it was so funny without being silly – that’s a difficult balance to strike for some, but MV achieves it brilliantly – and in spite of the humour, there was some really deep emotional stuff going on that didn’t slide into melodrama. It’s probably the best début HR I’ve read since 2016!
Thank you, also for the info on KU.
I started it and I love its tone, its wit and the people are growing on me fast.
Just what I needed to counteract January grayness.
Big thank you!
I love to come back to our site after a vacation and discover new books I HAVE TO READ IMMEDIATELY. I’m currently on a Kris Kennedy glom (yes, you should definitely join me & start with Claiming Her (side note: I think this one deserves a DIK too!)), but A Wicked Kind of Husband is next in line.
And it’s on KU (thanks for the tip Connie)!
And there are 3 more books coming soon (thanks for pointing me to her site Kay)!
I can’t wait to read this one!
I read it last night in one sitting and I wholeheartedly agree with the rating. I also discovered that the book was deceptively funny as there were plenty of heartwrenching moments. The H/h have suffered great loss and heartbreak in the past and the author skillfully told their story with witty banter, humor, and just the right amount of somberness without turning the emotional moments into melodrama. I’m definitely looking forward to her next books!
Yes, that’s incredibly well done. Both characters have had a difficult time of it, but they’re not “woe is me!” wallowers; like we all have to do, they’ve sucked it up and got on with their lives, but the author has them do so without making them unfeeling or crass.
Icredible Review,glad you enjoyed it!
Ooh, this sounds like fun!
This was one of my favorite books in 2018 and I am glad to see your review. I am happy to see at the author’s website that she has 3 books connected to this one coming out in 2019!
Yes – I’m certainly looking forward to reading more from her!
It is on Kindle Unlimited!
Then HR fans should snap it up!
Thank you for the wonderful review! The inclusion of the dialogues in the review sealed the deal for me.
You’re welcome – the dialogue really is good; with some authors it feels forced, but that certainly isn’t the case here. Do drop back and let me know what you think when you’ve read it!