One of the best things about discovering an author with their debut book is that as a reader you get to watch that author grow and tune their craft. Such is the case with Julia London. I first discovered this new talent with her first book The Devil’s Love. Her newest release, Wicked Angel shows amazing growth, not just in pacing and plotting, but in voice as well. It’s not perfect, but it’s a good read.
Lauren Hill was sold into marriage to a senile German count by her guardian uncle Ethan. Now a widow, she returns to her beloved home Rosewood, only to find it in desperate need of repairs thanks to Ethan’s spending habits. Lauren must find some way to support her home – and the orphans she cares for. She manages to keep them afloat, but Ethan insists she must marry again.
Alexander Christian, Duke of Sutherland is worried about his shipping business, is bored with society, and is indifferent toward his fiancee. He makes a trip to his hunting box for some much needed time alone. When his horse sprains its leg, he stumbles upon Rosewood – and an angel. Neither Alex nor Lauren mention their respective titles when they meet. Their relationship blossoms from a mutual respect and friendship. Lauren has never met such a wonderful man. Alex has never known a more incredible woman, but he is sure a relationship between them is impossible. He returns to London, leaving his heart at Rosewood.
Heartbroken, Lauren is forced by her uncle to journey to London for the Season. When Alex spots her at a ball, he assumes she is a fraud and treats her badly. Lauren is doubly incensed when she discovers that he is a duke! Despite her anger at him, Alex cannot stay away. His behavior embroils them both in scandal. What can he do? He is in love with one woman, but belongs to another. Of course, Alex’s betrothal to another woman does not stop he and Lauren from indulging in a night of passion. Their initial love scene is sensuous, and laced with emotion. Lauren not only gives him her body but her heart, which makes the scenes that follow even more heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking to watch her euphoria fade as the vicious gossip and scandal begins to eat away at her reputation, turning her beautiful moment into something shameful and dirty.
I loved this book. The characters are so real and vibrant. Lauren is beautiful and charming, but independent and strong. Alex is fantastic. He’s arrogant without being a jerk, and strong but not overbearing. Right from the beginning I wanted these characters to live happily ever after. I felt their pain and frustration at not being able to be together, and I alternately cursed Alex and sympathized with him for not defying convention and jilting his fiancee.
The only problem I had with the book was the resolution of the internal conflict. It took a bit too long for Lauren and Alex to finally be together. Lauren’s reasons for rejecting him weren’t quite as clear as I would have preferred. It wasn’t until the end that I realized why she had been so adamant to refuse him.
Wicked Angel demonstrates just how much London has grown as an author since her debut. If this book is a promise of things to come then I cannot wait until her next book. I loved the characters, found the plot emotional and generally believable, and even found myself smiling at the end. Wicked Angel is a charming, wickedly delightful story.