Wow. I could leave the review with that but the page might look oddly blank and lonely so I'll continue on. Wow, wow, wow. Jennifer Haymore is one heck of an author and A Hint of Wicked just made its way toward the top of my all time favorites list. This book was so far beyond phenomenal that I can't find a word to describe how awesome it was. Movie over Stephenie Meyer and Jane Austen, in my book, Haymore currently rules the land of Romance and Regency.
A Hint of Wicked is the story of one voracious woman and two very hunky men. As is always the case when we find ourselves in this situation, there is bound to be some great drama. Sophie, the Duchess of Calton, is our heroine and although she's different from the normal rear-kicking tough girls I've been reading lately, she's still strong in her own right. She might not go around wearing tight leather, chasing down the world's evil, but she has a fantastically strong personality that just bleeds off the page. Haymore has done an excellent job with creating a strong woman in this time period and has obviously done her research. For the most part, Sophie conforms to the time period's rules of propriety without coming across as meek, mild and completely bland. Just as the colors of the cover pop out and dance with the eyes, Sophie is a wonderfully colorful character who draws the reader in, becoming a real, flesh and blood person rather than just black words on a grey page.
As in any good romance, there's the beautiful femininity of the heroine and the roguish attraction of the hero. In this case we have two heroes. Holy cow, ladies, you better grab your loveliest fan because these guys are guaranteed to steam up the room. Garrett, Sophie's childhood sweetheart and husband is powerfully built and comes complete with roguish charm. Nothing holds sway over his heart the way that Sophie does. If possible, he would literally turn the world upside down for her. Enter Tristan. Impeccably dressed to the nines, he holds a different charm from Garrett. Completely attractive, his personality is as much as turn-on as Garrett's body is. When Garrett leaves for war and news of his possible death at the battle of Waterloo reaches Sophie and Tristan, it just about breaks them both. Years later, when hope of Garrett's return finally dies away, the two friends realize the flame of desire between them and wed, beginning a happy life as husband and wife. What could be better? They are Duke and Duchess, wanting for nothing, safe in each other's arms. Right up until the moment that Garrett returns that is.
What follows is a harrowing story of love, betrayal, passion, madness and intrigue. What will Sophie's fate be when she's confronted by two husbands? Will she have to choose between them? Is she even capable of doing that? With her two men vying for her heart and fighting against one another, Sophie wants no more than to welcome happiness back into their lives, but it seems that the entire world is set to fight against her.
As you may have noticed, I absolutely loved, loved, loved this book. Did I mention that I loved it? I usually tend toward Urban Fantasy when choosing books to read, but this one called out to me and I am so ecstatic that I welcomed it. I have not read a book so full of passion and emotion in a long while. I was literally perched on the very edge of my seat, my eyes ripping through the words, trying very hard to force myself not to skip down just to find out what happens next. As with any Regency novel, this one was full of the intrigue that seemed to flow throughout the time period. Haymore does a fantastic job of creating twists, turns and side stories to keep us guessing throughout the book.
The characters! Oh, man the characters. What a fantastic job Haymore did with her character development. We continued to watch Sophie, Garrett and Tristan develop throughout the book, but from the moment they stepped foot on the page, they had already become real people. Their complexities, beauty and quirks all made them so very realistic. At times, it was difficult to remember that I was reading a book and not sitting, watching a beautifully produced play.
Haymore did a fantastic job of bringing her story to life and I highly recommend everyone go out, buy the book and read it. That being said, here it is: Fair Warning Time. There are adult themes in this book. There are intimate scenes sweetly depicted within these colorful pages. While not overflowing, there are enough scenes that I would be amiss if I didn't let readers know. In no way does it detract from the story and the scenes are written so beautifully that it really does play an integral part in what makes this book so fantastic. I would give it a sensuality rating of 4/5.
I give A Hint of Wicked a giant A and if I could give extra credit points I would. I gave extra kudos to the passion and characters because those are the two aspects that really made this book spectacular. Both the sweet and spicy passion, both in terms of love and in terms of character interactions and the character development were wonderfully executed.
Seriously, I would not be surprised in the slightest if people are talking about this book for a while. It will hold an honored spot on my bookshelf and I imagine I'm going to have to protect the cover so that it doesn't fall off after I've read it over and over again. What are you waiting for? Go read it!