I am a fan of Nicole Jordan’s books but seem to hit or miss with the novels in her Guardians series. After being disappointed in the first novel and loving the second, I looked forward to Wicked Fantasy. It didn’t live up to my expectations.
Antonia was 17 when she met Deverill after he joined her father for dinner at their house. Samuel Maitland and Deverill were friends, business associates, and both in trade (shipping). By the end of the night, Antonia had her first kiss as well as her first glance at a naked man, both of which fuel her wicked fantasies for the next four years. Not bad work for one night.
Four years later Antonia’s father is killed, and the family housekeeper summons Deverill because she believes Baron Heward, Antonia’s almost-betrothed, did the dirty deed. Deverill chases Antonia down at her first ball since coming out of mourning for her father. Their reunion starts the book off swimmingly. They dance and we learn of father’s wish that she marry for a title. The two connect as smoothly as they did four years before and one would think they had known each other much longer and much better than they really do.
The next morning Deverill tags along on her morning ride. Antonia is somewhat wary of his presence, which has more to do with her spending the night dreaming wicked things of him than it does of propriety. But hey, what the hell, her groom is there, they are on horses, what could happen? Deverill is convinced Heward is up to no good, and though the connection between he and Antonia is strong, they disagree about Heward. Deverill sets out to show Antonia that Heward is too stuffy, too disapproving, too controlling, and not passionate enough for her, that as a pretty heiress she could do better – not that he himself is offering, as his life as a spy is devoted to the Guardians.
Sensing Deverill is a problem, Heward invites him to Madam Bruno’s. Deverill earns points for not wanting to go, but seeing a chance to get a better view of Heward, he agrees. He lost those points when he failed to consider, given what he believes about Heward, that this could be a set up. It isn’t until after thugs rush in that he figures it out, at which point he kidnaps Antonia so they can be safely away while he figures out how to prove Heward’s guilt. The time on the ship should have been fun, sexy and amusing, but for the most part I found myself taking turns wanting to slap Antonia or Deverill.
It isn’t a bad novel; it just wasn’t what I was expecting. I thought it was going to be a marriage-of-convenience-turns-into-love plot. I expected the ship-board proposal to lead to marriage. Instead, the two repeatedly have this sort of conversation:
“You will marry me!”
“I will not!”
“Oh yes you will!”
“But I must marry a titled man for my daddy!”
“You want to marry me!”
Rinse and repeat…so often I wanted to stop reading, although I’m not sure if my distaste grew out of this unexpected turn of plot or because I’ve read this same story over and over and over again.
Nicole Jordan’s writing is fun and spicy, amusing and entertaining. At times Wicked Fantasy was all of these things, but it never came together well enough for me to like it. And while the author earned AAR’s reader “award” for Most Purple Prose earlier this year, I thought she was actually getting better in that regard. Until this release, which creates a new color of purple for the crayon box. Even so, I plan to read Fever Dreams when it hits bookstores next summer. Maybe I get to love every other one in this series, hey I can hope.