Desert Isle Keeper
Wilde in Love
When I saw that Eloisa James planned to start a new series this fall, I was immediately intrigued. Once I managed to get my hands on a copy of Wilde in Love, I started reading and found myself instantly charmed. I loved the universe of characters introduced in this novel and finished reading with a smile on my face.
By the standards of Georgian England, Lord Alaric Wilde is a celebrity. His books detailing his world travels sell gazillions of copies, prints of his escapades (real and imagined) do a brisk business, women all but swoon at the thought of him, and there’s even a popular play in his honor. One gets the rapid impression that it would be impossible to live in England and not know of his fame.
However, Alaric has not been in London. When he returns after years of travels abroad, he finds himself both surprised and horrified by his fame. Far from courting the spotlight, he just wants to hide out at Lindow Castle, the family home. When he arrives home in time for the house party celebrating the betrothal of his older brother, he meets one of the few women in England unimpressed by his fame – and finds himself intrigued.
Wilhelmina (Willa) Ffynche could not care less about the famous adventurer, Alaric Wilde, and in fact she suspects his books are filled with exaggerations or outright fabrication. However, her dear friend Lavinia has a huge celebrity crush on the man, which makes for some fun conversations between the two. Willa meets Alaric at the Lindow Castle house party and immediately proclaims herself unimpressed. Thankfully for readers, her first impression is not the last word on the subject.
If you enjoy witty repartee, you will likely find plenty to love in Wilde in Love. Not only do the characters engage in it but I often felt like the author was throwing in witty asides for readers as well, from the clever references in the titles of Wilde’s books (Wilde Sargasso Sea, anyone?) to her descriptions of the portraits of Wilde traded amongst his fans. It’s great fun.
While the tone of the novel is often light, this is not a frothy romp. There’s often genuine emotion flowing beneath the surface, and James calls forth both poignant moments, as with Alaric’s mourning of a brother lost, and sweetly romantic ones between Alaric and Willa. Just as one gets to know the world the author is introducing in this book, the reader gets to know the lead characters in this romance gradually as well. I felt as if I really had been dropped into the middle of the house party, and I greatly enjoyed making the acquaintance of Willa and Alaric, as well as their relatives, friends and the occasional general annoyance. I especially liked Alaric’s family, which is probably all to the good, since this series will be based on the Wildes.
So, what’s the book about? At its heart, it’s something of an “opposites attract” story. Taking place primarily during a house party, the actions of the characters may at times feel rather mundane. They flirt, they gossip, they take festive meals together and play party games. Willa even ends up with a pet, about which I unexpectedly loved reading. Up until the latter part of the book, the plot is driven more by internal change than by external action. We see the proper Willa coming to appreciate Alaric and discovering the kindness beneath his confident exterior. We learn that even as the two are drawn to one another, the deeply private Willa wrestles with her horror at the idea of a relationship with such a public figure as Alaric.
The backdrop of the house party provides a rich setting not only for the main romance, but for all of the other plots woven through the story. This is Eloisa James, after all, so readers familiar with her books will likely go into this knowing that there will be a lot happening among her cast of characters. Wilde in Love gives readers a lovely romance and a fine introduction to a series that I cannot wait to keep reading.