Desert Isle Keeper
Wilde Child is the latest in Eloisa James’ series of historical romances following the Duke of Lindow’s many children as they fall in love and start their own families. This book is a fun, lighthearted romp as one of the wildest Wildes meets her match.
Lady Joan Wilde is already infamous in the ton, despite still being in the first blush of youth. Her birth lends her an air of scandal, as it is common knowledge that her existence is owed to her mother’s notorious affair with a Prussian. Joan cares little for others’ perception of her, choosing to be as outrageous as she pleases, flirting and even kissing gentlemen in full view of a ballroom! The Wildes’ prestige protects Joan from outright disgrace, but not from cutting comments from those who believe she ought not to show her face in society.
Thaddeus Erskine Shaw, Viscount Greywick, is a longstanding family friend. He courted two of Joan’s older sisters before they wed others, but Joan can’t stand him. Viscount Greywick couldn’t make it clearer that he disapproves of Joan’s very existence, and thus Joan is determined to be indifferent to him. Greywick can’t help but be aware of Joan’s beauty and intelligence, but knows she is not the one for him: his father is constantly causing gossip, and Greywick’s future bride must be beyond reproach, not the only Wilde whose name is synonymous with scandal.
When Greywick finds out that Joan’s father will allow her to perform privately in a play – wearing breeches – he is aghast that her reputation will be ruined. They strike a bargain: Greywick will accompany Joan for a performance, after which she will agree to settle down and get married to a suitable man. Joan agrees, but this pact puts the two in close proximity, making them both think about all of the reasons they should keep their hands off each other.
Joan is really fun, a heroine unconcerned with her reputation, which is a nice change. Even though she’s part of a powerful family, Joan is not totally invulnerable to society’s opinions, but she pays little mind to them. It’s obvious that Joan only really cares what people think about her if she values them, and it hurts her that Greywick, someone so close to the family, dismisses her out of hand. Joan is a beautiful woman who wants to be seen as more than that, and knows that most of those outside of her family cannot see past the face she puts on for society. Greywick is equally complex, a man who only ever wanted his father’s approval and instead receives only scorn. Like many heroes, he realizes ultimately that putting duty over love is the greatest mistake he could make, and stops a self-destructive cycle.
I really enjoyed this book, though I found Joan’s inevitable change of heart about marriage and babies a little speedy. Joan is a Wilde, and thus very unconventional by nature, but she matures from ‘babies are gross’ rather quickly. Joan reads as a lot younger than her romantic interest, though that could just come across because he is a rule-following, courteous gentleman living within society’s margins while Joan as a hoyden if there ever was one. Wilde Child is an excellent continuation of the Wilde series, and one that fans and newcomers alike will enjoy.