I Thee Wed
I Thee Wed is the fourth book in Celeste Bradley’s The Wicked Worthington series. I have not read any of the previous novels in this series and was able to follow along fairly well as the characters were introduced. While it is not necessary to have read the earlier stories to understand this one, I believe I’d have better understood the hero’s perspective if I had. I am conflicted about this book. There were times I thought the writing was close to outstanding, but those moments were overshadowed by the more frequent uses of purple prose, caricatures, and awkward pacing that got in the way of what could have been a decent story.
Orion Worthington is the rational and sane brother in a family full of eccentrics. When he receives the offer of a position as an apprentice to the renowned scientist, Sir Geoffrey Blayne, Orion almost jumps at the chance to leave the chaos of his home for an orderly laboratory. With the offer of the apprenticeship comes the offer to court Sir Geoffrey’s daughter Judith. Judith is beautiful, poised, and trained to not only run a household, but to look after the needs of a scientist and his laboratory. What more could Orion want? A place in the Royal Fraternity of Life Sciences. Being taken seriously as a scientist is his burning desire and science always comes before romance.
Francesca Penrose’s father was the brother of Sir Geoffrey Blayne and her mother came from a large family of Italian scientists. After her parents die and she is orphaned, Francesca decides she wants to learn more about the English side of her family. She writes repeatedly to Sir Geoffrey to finagle an invitation to visit and eventually secures one. After arriving and settling in at Blayne House, Francesca finds that England is not all her father told her it would be. Sir Geoffrey’s cook has orders from his employer to cook only bland food with little or no seasoning. For a woman who comes from a heritage of spicy dishes, Francesca is at a loss of how to be happy in this cold and less flavorful world. Then Orion Worthington enters her uncle’s household and the sun begins to shine and Francesca is hit with a burning desire to…cook. She is also in serious lust with Orion and decides to make seducing him an experiment in physical attraction and as she measures its duration.
What I like most of all about this story is the hero and heroine. Bradley fleshes both of them out well and I cared whether they got their HEA. Both are scientists who come at problems from differing perspectives. Both are virgins who believe sexual relations are highly overrated and both are hit with such an overpowering lust for the other that they have no other option than to discover what that attraction means. The underlying storyline is interesting and believable, but other than these highlights the writing is kind of all over the place. The author uses food as an analogy for lust and love and while this is an interesting device, it is overused. Pages and pages enumerating spices and various dishes were repetitive. Many descriptions border on the flamboyant and enter purple prose territory. The book has far too many sentences like this:
It was all he could do to keep from flinging this delectable creature to the stone kitchen floor and turning loose his inner steed of need upon her.
I believe I re-read inner steed of need five or six times before I could move on from this description. I do not know whether to laugh or shudder.
Orion is from a large family and although Bradley does attempt to introduce the reader to Orion’s parents, seven brothers and sisters and their spouses, I needed a more background knowledge. The youngest member of the Worthington family is thirteen year old Atalanta. She is brought into Orion’s story at the beginning as a conduit for furthering Orion’s relationship with Francesca and is used as a sort of omniscient being to tell their story from another vantage point. Her purpose in the book is a unevenly utilized as she is a frequent visitor to Blayne House at the beginning and then just disappears for more than a hundred pages. Attie is initially written as a feral creature who strays way too close to caricature and she does not grow much throughout the book. Orion’s parents are also caricatures, although they are benign enough that it is not too ridiculous. Using caricatures in a story is not necessarily a bad thing. Many great works of literature make use of stock characters. Overuse of them is a problem though and there are definitely too many in this book.
I Thee Wed suffers from a sort of literary bi-polarism that left me a exhausted by the time I was through reading Orion and Francesca’s story. While I did enjoy parts of the book, I was glad when it was finally over.