Wicked, My Love contains the zaniness that I often enjoy in historical romance, not because it’s historically accurate, but because it fits the bill of pure escapism. Wicked, My Love was a fun, entertaining and funny on-the-road romance between two childhood nemesis who consequently discover something to actually like about the other. While there are many madcap adventures in the course to happily-ever-after, the author does a good job of including a lovely emotional depth that balanced out the lighthearted tone of the book.
Lord Randall and Isabella St. Vincent have known each other since childhood, and it was not a sweet, childish friendship. Neither liked the other and they continue to be at odds with one another into adult hood. Now both Randall and Isabella have taken over the bank that their fathers’ established together. Isabella in particular is the financial wiz that and Randall is the charismatic face of the bank. However, when it seems that the bank has been swindled these two enemies are going to have to work together if they want to keep themselves out of the poor house.
Wicked, My Love started off as a really strong read. From the first page, you knew that any interactions between Randall and Isabella would be hilarious. Randall’s the charismatic one and Isabella’s, well, a little clueless when it comes to dealing with other people. She’s smart in a numbers sort of way, but struggles to read people and would much rather distance herself from her own unruly emotions. Randall, unlike Isabella, is all about emotions. He’s a politician and he actually cares about his causes, but the questions is whether he cares enough to risk the possible alienation from his peers.
I really liked the characterization of both the hero and heroine in Wicked, My Love. There was an unexpected depth of emotion that worked well to counter the silliness of the plot and the antics of Randall and Isabella. I loved the silliness to the story, but I think the characterizations and conflicts facing both Randall and Isabella personally is what made this a strong read. For example, Isabella becomes this unlikely face of women’s rights and independence, when her aunt gets her to write a financial advice book for women. While Isabella certainly believes in independence, she craves her own family: a husband and children, which her bluestocking aunt urges her to avoid. Obviously the two can coexist, but I liked how this created a conflict for Isabella and saved her from being a one-dimensional character; she was a more than a public face for a cause. Randall too had unexpected depth since the reader learns why he craves adoration and attention in his political career. The characters in this one won me over and kept me interested from beginning to end.
The reservation that I have about Wicked, My Love is the instances when I was jarred from the story with modern language. I found, especially in the second half of the book, that the novel took a much more modern approach than I would have expected in a historical romance. The relationship between Randall and Isabella suddenly felt like I was reading a contemporary romance and this was a little disappointing. I don’t think Wicked, My Love is for readers that expect a strong adherence to historical norms. You need to take this one for what it is, a fun story in a historical setting, with characters that don’t exactly behave in a way you would expect at that time. It’s a fun read and it does the job in offering a tale of escapism.
I liked Wicked, My Love for it’s humour and zaniness and that alone will have me coming back for more from Susannah Ives. While the sense of fun is certainly not something that will appeal to all readers, I think it will to those that like their historical light and fun in the same vein of Tessa Dare and Julia Quinn.
*Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
It’s no secret that I love a good spinster story and I loved how endearingly awkward Isabella was in Wicked, My Love. For another awkward and perhaps “unlikeable” spinster heroine, Sally Mackenzie’s Saving Lord Jack is an excellent follow up. While the humour is not quite as overt, I think fans of the setup in Wicked, My Love will appreciate the characters.
While there’s no real awkward hero or heroine in Suzanne Enoch’s Always a Scoundrel, I think it will appeal to fans of the unlikely romance between Isabella and Randall. Bram and his heroine Rose are a most unlikely romantic pairing, which just makes for a lovely romance.
Lastly, if you liked the combative dynamic between Isabella and Randall, Jayne Fresina’s The Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne is sure to please. Ellie and James have not been on the best of terms since childhood. This one will also appeal to those who also enjoyed the sense of fun in Wicked, My Love.