Thomas Hyde, Viscount Varcourt, is still haunted by the death of his brother Harry after all these years. The ton blamed Thomas for the death, even though he had nothing to do with it. He was only a young boy then, and his older brother Harry was `special'; he had an incredible mind but could not function in society. He was shunned and kept in the nursery. The one day he was let out during a house party, he was found dead in a stream. Because Thomas left Harry by that stream to fend for himself, he feels incredible guilt. His mother, Lady Hamilton, barely makes it day to day because of the loss. She goes through life bereft, looking for a reason to live. She may have finally found the one person who can help her. Her name is Esmeralda, and she is the toast of the ton for she can speak with the dead and can help Lady Hamilton find peace.
Thomas knows Esmeralda is a con and he will find out why she has targeted his mother. He would love nothing more then to place his hands around her veiled covered face and squeeze the life out of her; but because he also lusts after her, he would also like to lie in between her thighs. She is an enigma and an enemy, a puzzle he will solve, even if he must plunder and force himself upon her to make her tell him all her secrets.
Esmeralda is indeed playing a game and a ruse in order to ruin her half-brother who denied her existence and what was rightfully hers. She will make him pay and then disappear forever. But her plans are ruined as Varcourt stalks her, wanting answers from her lying lips. She will use her body as payment for his silence. Varcourt will take Esmeralda's body, willing or not, plus her promise to find out what happened to his brother the day he died. Esmeralda has no choice but to do what Varcourt wants because the man she wants revenge against may also be the one Varcourt is looking for.
Wicked Intentions is a dark and disturbing gothic set in Regency England. This is a tale that has a great deal of violence in its pages, and I am not just talking about murder. The violence is what Varcourt does to Esmeralda. Because Varcourt has such seething anger towards Esmeralda, he brutally forces her to have sex with him. Some may have different interpretations of the first sex scene between these two, but from my standpoint, Varcourt forces himself into Esmeralda's home, throws her on the bed, and after she taunts him, he roughly has sex with her. Yes, she makes her body respond, but his actions are of the worst kind. Not only does he do this once, but then he kidnaps Esmeralda, ties her to his bed, slaps her across the face because she hurls insults at him and then he has sex with her again. Esmeralda does respond to Varcourt, but only because if she didn't, Varcourt would be the worst type of abuser, the type of hero we are so used to reading about years ago when they didn't have a care for the heroine, other then to plunder her to his will. Varcourt does that here in great detail.
I wasn't sure what Lydia was trying to accomplish with the underlying violence, both in words and actions between Varcourt and Esmeralda. These two didn't have any chemistry that I could find appealing, and Varcourt's opinion and actions against Esmeralda made for very uncomfortable reading. At least I could understand Esmeralda's plans of revenge, and her own story was fascinating. But the moment she is forced to help Varcourt find his brother's killer, I found that to be just too much. It seemed to me that the plot with Varcourt's brother was added on to give the story more of a mystery, as well as to try and explain Varcourt's motivations. Unfortunately, I lost all interest in Varcourt's motivations the moment he forced himself into Esmeralda's body and life.
Lydia Joyce can write some fabulous gothic historicals. Wicked Intentions does have a gothic feel but it was lacking so much form what I usually find and enjoy in her work.