What a Lady Wants
What a Lady Wants has a strong beginning and a likable heroine, but, unfortunately, it’s weakened by a shallow hero and an unexciting second half.
Nigel Cavendish is one of a group of four men who originally bet a shilling and a bottle of cognac on who would remain unmarried the longest. One has already succumbed (see the first book in this new series, A Little Bit Wicked). Nigel, notorious for his affairs with only widowed or married women, is absolutely determined that he will not be next. He is not ready for marriage or anything else requiring responsibility, even as his father sits him down and tells him his days of freedom are ending. He wants Nigel to prepare to take over the family finances and to consider marriage.
Lady Felicity Melville is ready for some adventure in her life, and seemingly, she gets what she is asking for as Nigel, sneaking out from a neighbor’s house, gets trapped in the garden beneath her bedroom balcony. He’s exactly what she’s looking for, and now all she has to do is make him feel the same way about her.
The two are thrown together in some very original situations, and the book initially flows nicely with entertaining and charming banter. Felicity knows her mind. She wants to marry Nigel and does her best to give him the ideal opportunities to get to know her. Along the way she’s assisted by other fun characters. Her actions are close to being manipulative, but never quite cross that line, as she never pretends to be someone other than who she is. She is honest and clever, and overall very likable.
While Nigel feels inexplicably pulled towards her, he is simply not ready for a wife. Their encounters are fun at first because Nigel is so clueless, while Felicity is in control. However, Nigel turns out to be shallow, as well as boring. While I like the concept of a rake needing the right woman to reform him, Nigel does disappointingly little to live up to his scandalous reputation, which would at least have spiced up the action a little.
Halfway through the book, the plot really starts spinning its wheels since it continues to evolve around Nigel’s internal conflict as he whines about not wanting to give up his freedom and accept his responsibilities. This grated on my nerves and was not enough to sustain my interest till the end. Felicity still creates situations to help him see the light, but it just isn’t as fun as when they first met. The author throws in a contrived plot twist to create drama that was just souring – and in stark contrast to the pleasant originality of the book’s first half.
Alexander tries to make the rest of the story float along as it did in the beginning. But though her dialogue is clever and her writing very smooth, it’s not enough to keep it from sinking.