His Wicked Ways
She’s come a long way, baby! That’s the first thought I had when I began reading His Wicked Ways. I first read and reviewed Samantha James in 1996. The book was Just One Kiss and while it featured some deft characterizations, it also featured angry, manipulative sex, as well as very cruel behavior toward the heroine on behalf of the hero. And, it offered a hero who didn’t show the near-sniveling heroine any reason why she ought to love him. His Wicked Ways, bad title notwithstanding, could not be more different, and I raced through it in one sitting in one evening – for me, that’s one sign of a good read.
Meredith Munro is in a convent where she is set to take her vows in a month, when she is kidnapped by Cameron McKay, whose father and brothers have been murdered by her father as part of a century-long clan feud. The beautiful, stubborn, deeply religious girl stuns Cameron from the start with her quiet and brave dignity. The lengthy journey back to his holding will delight readers who enjoy a good road romance.
Though his initial plan includes having Meredith’s father believe she is dead, Cameron doesn’t really know what to do with her once they return to his home. By this time, she’s saved his life, he’s saved hers, and they’ve both realized their powerful attraction to one another. Rather than throwing her into the “pit prison,” he ensconces her in one of the towers of his castle.
Meredith is reviled by the clan McKay even though no one is sure why the feud began. Through her goodness, she first reaches the children of the keep, and eventually the women, although not Moire, a lusty wench with designs on Cameron. Though Moire’s part in later nefarious goings-on is not difficult to figure out, she does make Meredith jealous, which heats things up considerably between Meredith and Cameron.
The deal Cameron eventually devises is this: if Meredith will bear him a son, he will free her. Where she will go is uncertain – she was raped at Munro keep a few years before by an unseen man, which is what caused her to go to the nunnery in the first place (she’s never told a soul about this, and when she shares her deep secret with Cameron, it’s very touching). Of course, while Cameron believes his deal is based on revenge, it is actually based on the love he has come to feel for Meredith, who loves him in return.
While these two figure each other out, the reader is treated to a variety of yummy love scenes, a stint on an island that will delight lovers of cabin romances, and an all-round, well-written romance. While new ground is not covered here, basic premises are handled deftly. The book is flawed only by the villains, who are too predictable.
The trust issue, which so marred Just One Kiss, is a basic premise in His Wicked Ways as well, but Cameron is a far better man than his predecessor. And Meredith is the better woman as well, even if she doesn’t see herself as brave, although Cameron does, and with good reason.
It’s been a very long time since I’ve enjoyed a medieval romance that was not a romp. I feel as though I’ve been welcomed home. You will too.