Too Wicked To Marry
Susan Sizemore’s newest novel Too Wicked To Marry is entertaining in much the same way as a James Bond movie. Each is full of action and excitement, and each requires a certain suspension of disbelief. The fact that this book still manages to provide a satisfying love story in combination with its larger-than-life characters and plot is a very pleasant surprise, and makes the entertainment all the more memorable.
Martin Kestrel is an English diplomat and a terrible pain in the butt. Everyone thinks so, but his daughter’s governess Abigail Perry is one of the few people who will actually tell him so, point blank. While out on a friend’s yacht, besieged by marriage-minded females, he comes to the sudden realization that not only is Abigail his one true friend and confidante, but the woman he loves as well. He wastes no time in racing home to tell her this, but her reaction is scarcely what he has expected; she tells him to stop acting like an idiot, and then, when opportunity presents itself, she flees for Scotland, and a family named MacLeod. When he finally tracks her down, however, he finds more than he bargained for. And perhaps more than his new-found love can survive.
Harriet MacLeod is not Abigail Perry. Not anymore, anyway. Abigail Perry was an assignment, a cover for Harriet’s real job, which is to protect Martin from foreign espionage – a task which nearly cost her her life – and supervise other covert operations. But when Martin declares his love for the non-existent Abigail, Harriet knows her cover will have to be blown. Because Abigail has done what Harriet must never do; she has fallen in love with Martin. And now she must reveal how she has used him in the past – and convince him to help her again. No matter what the cost.
Harriet is a fun and intriguing character, a woman serving her Queen as a spy. I might have liked to see even more of her larger-than-life work and persona, but Ms. Sizemore manages to bring a very human and realistic touch to her, giving her nightmares and remorse. She is not averse to speaking her mind, which makes her a perfect match for Martin, who frequently needs to hear the unsugar-coated truth about himself. She is also a caring person, determined to do right by both Martin and his daughter, both of whom she quite obviously loves.
Martin is an arrogant ass, but largely self-aware, which may be what saves him. He loves Abigail precisely because she is ready and willing to bring him down a peg. Harriet, however, may be another matter. Abigail he could trust absolutely. Harriet is the least trustworthy of creatures, and if he must help her, he will use every opportunity to enact his revenge upon her for using him. Er, except maybe tonight, he thinks. Tonight, he’ll make love to her because that’s all he seems to want to do. Tomorrow, he’ll get his revenge. Yes, that’s it. Tomorrow.
As it turns out, Martin is actually something of a cream puff in dealing with Harriet – when he can manage to remove his head from his posterior. He clearly does love her, even though he doesn’t quite realize it until it’s nearly too late, when he discovers that not everything is as he has assumed it to be. In fact, he has loved her – as Abigail – since before the book began, just as she has unknowingly loved him. The fact that we never see them falling in love seems like it ought to be a problem, yet Ms. Sizemore is very convincing in their actions during the course of the novel, and their emotions are quiet convincing, for all their prior and unnoticed inception.
The only complaints I have about this book are minor. We never see Martin’s daughter, who is Harriet’s charge, after all, and her cover for her real occupation. Martin loves her very much, and she brings light to his life, but that light never falls upon the pages of this text, which seems an odd omission. She spends the entire book visiting her grandparents, which is all very well and good for allowing the hero and heroine to have uninterrupted fights and trysts, but hardly logical. Also, as I said before, Harriet’s occupation is so fascinating that the reader longs to see it action, to see her defending Martin covertly. This book could have had another hundred pages filled with such details, and I would not have complained. Still, these criticisms are mostly personal preference, and will not really detract from the reading experience.
Too Wicked To Marry kicks off a series about the lively MacLeod clan and their tendency toward espionage. I can’t wait to read more.