The Wicked Lover Paperback – 1 Feb 2004
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Known as "The Dove" in London Society, Robert is by no means an aristocrat and has only become the darling of society through his well-liked and powerful mistress Lady Grenham and his association with the late Lord Edward Vane (from THE SEDUCTION), brother of the powerful Duke of Yveshire. "Dove" is highly intelligent, handsome, charming and wickedly sensual. But when he arrives home one day to find his mistress very publicly dropping him and then a young woman with her manservant tied up in his bedroom, Dove knows with certain dread that trouble is afoot. The young man explains that he and the young lady were simply attempting to steal one of his cravats to win a wager when Lady Grenham discovered them and jumped to the conclusion that Dove was cheating on her. Dove knows instinctively that there is more to this story - and more to this young man who calls himself George White. In order to get to the bottom of things he compels George to work for him as his secretary confident that he will soon discover who George really is and what he was doing poking around Dove's home.
George White is actually Sylvie Georgiana, the Countess of Montevrain, who has worked for the Duke of Yveshire for years as a spy in France. She has now returned to her homeland of England in order to uncover Dove's (possibly illegal) covert activities and hopefully ruin him. For the Duke of Yveshire is convinced that Dove ruined his younger brother Edward and as a result is responsible for his death. Becoming Dove's secretary is the perfect cover for Sylvie as she will be privy to his papers, finances and movements. What she does not count on is her almost immediate attraction to him. She's spied on many men, even slept with some when necessary, but none has ever affected her like Dove. His every word and movement seems to drip with sensuality, charm and intelligence and try as she might, Sylvie is hard pressed to resist him. Only her disguise as a man is protecting her from his seduction.
But what poor Sylvie does not realize is that Dove has been on to her from the very beginning! He's known that she is really a woman from day one and he is purposely seducing her in a way the she does not even realize. As George, she is able to experience the freedom of being a man - sleigh races, ice skating on the Thames, coffeehouses and pubs. She almost wishes she could remain George White forever, but it is not to be. For the seduction has not all been one-sided and, uncomfortable with the notion that he may have fallen for an enemy, Dove finally admits that he knows her secret and demands to know for whom she is working and why. The moment of truth has come - what will Sylvie do? The duke is not only her employer, he's her friend; and now she cannot reconcile the duke's claims about Dove with the kind, gentle man she has come to know - and love. What really is the truth?
Such a wonderful tale with an unmistakable undercurrent of eroticism that makes such things as Dove teaching her how to bow properly, take snuff and throw like a man exercises in seduction. He's absolutely yummy and you see how a seasoned pro like Sylvie could fall under his spell! But the eroticism is subtle and stylish, so if you're a fan of Stephanie Laurens and her ilk for example, this book is probably not for you! And the weather of a London winter is almost a character here with the author making use of snow, slush, cold rain and fog beautifully. I've read all of Ms Ross' books and a couple that she wrote under Jean Ross-Ewing and have enjoyed every one. For me, she just never disappoints (though it would have been nice to have had some mention of Alden and Juliet from THE SEDUCTION as they were also involved with Lord Edward Vane!). Very highly recommended!
The plot [in 25 words or less]: Sylvie, a lady with a checkered past, is hired by an enemy of Robert Dovenby to uncover his well-guarded past. She does this by posing as his male secretary. [granted, that was 28 words]
This is possibly the most erotic, sensual book that I have ever read. It is set in the eighteenth century and the characters remain consistent with their time period. They are jaded, cynical, secretive and fascinating as layer by layer we learn who they are. Dove and Sylvie are strongly attracted to each other from first sight and the first two hundred pages of the book becomes an elaborate exercise in foreplay. Every aspect of their lives takes on a sensual aspect. Remember those first weeks of falling in love? The mixture of lust and sensuality? Ross captures that. Everything from the clothes that touch their bodies and to the foods they eat carries a sensual note.
It is also a well-written, sometimes lyric, story with a strong plot and interesting supporting characters.
The first 100 pages were tediously dull. Then the book got a bit more interesting for a while, before returning to dullness again. This pattern was repeated over and over. The storyline was often silly, too. The supposedly dramatic moments were more like melodrama than drama, and the author's florid, overlong writing style stole away most of the urgency and excitement from the pivotal plot points. The dialogue was clearly intended to be witty and highbrow (or at least what this writer imagines witty and highbrow conversation to be!), but suffered from not being tight or intelligent enough, and lapsed into obscurity, absurdity and stupidity far too frequently. Also, the characters very frequently laughed at each other's supposedly humourous comments...problem was, most of those comments were just not at all funny. More jokes missed the mark here than in an amateur open-mike night at a local standup comedy venue. To give credit where credit is due, occasionally the author got it right...on two occasions I laughed out loud at lines so funny they practically floored me. But two humorous quips in nearly 400 pages was just not enough to make me think that this book was worth my time.
There were a lot of flaws, too, like when the characters went on about the wonders of spring...in February.
I also didn't really feel much empathy for the characters. Oh, okay, I'll admit, Sylvie wasn't so bad -- she was at least a strong, independant woman who could mostly cope on her own, which is refreshing in a romance. And at least the Duke of Yveshire, even though he was supposed to be the hero's arch enemy, was a three dimensional character who was allowed to be seen for his virtues as well as faults. That was good. But the hero, Dove, was so maddeningly arrogant. He had a very high opinion of himself and expressed it constantly. According to him he was pretty much the greatest ever lover, fighter, companion and giver of parties, and was irresistible to all women and quite a lot of men as well. He thought he was God's gift, and not even his penchant for doing charitable work could really make me like him. He was just too perfect, and too keen to tell everyone that he was. I prefer my heroes to be a little more flawed and humble. In the end, I rather preferred the Duke of Yveshire to the hero, which probably shouldn't happen in a romance where we are supposed to like the hero the best out of all the men in it.
This book dragged on and on for me like a rainy day, with only occasional bursts of sunshine to liven it up. But then, everyone else seems to have given it a glowing review. Am I not a very good judge of books? Or is it that everyone else who has written a review here has MUCH lower literary standards than I? Is it that most people are happy with mediocrity? Or am I too much of a nit-picker? I'm sure you'll draw your own conclusions.
February 10, 2005
Courtesy of WWW.loveromances.com
Julia Ross's THE WICKED LOVER is more than just a well written historical romance. Filled with espionage and intrigue, the novel combines elements of romance and mystery to arrive at a winning story.
Sylvie Georgiana works for the Duke of Yveshire, a man of considerable wealth and power. For money, she does him favors by spying on the ton, and in this novel her current assignment is to dig up whatever she can on Robert Dovenby, whose origins are in some doubt. The book opens with "Dove", as he is called by most, in the middle of a trying scene, where his now former lover Lady Margaret (Meg), Countess of Grenham, is tossing out his clothes and into a bonfire. It was her not-so-subtle way of letting him and the public know that their affair was over, and they were no longer an item. In the meantime, "George", Sylvie's latest persona, is tied to the bed in Dove's home. It is truly a spectacular beginning to a promising story.
As the novel continues to deliver its tale, the momentum does not quit. Filled with romance, excitement and mystery, the reader has to guess whether Dove is truly the evil man Yveshire claims he is, or is Dove the honest and giving man that Sylvie sees him as. Yveshire's hatred for Dove is all consuming, and Sylvie's allegiance to the Duke conflicts with what she knows of Dove. The more she gets to know Dove, the more she sees that he's charitable, honest and not the evil man depicted by the Duke. And the longer she is acquainted with this handsome rogue, as she is now his hired secretary, she finds herself deeply attracted to Dove.
Witty repartee can be found between "George" and Dove, and for quite some time Sylvie thinks that Dove has no idea she's really a woman. However, Dove suspects from the very beginning that this young "man" is nothing more than a woman in disguise. For what reason, however, Dove cannot figure out. But he goes along with the ruse, pretending as long as he can that she is a person of the male gender. It's a joke on Sylvie, as Dove brings Sylvie along with him on outings that would truly be fit only for a man.
Their lives are soon in danger, as they find that there is someone in their midst that is working for the "other side". Dove could easily be tried for treason, and they now need to find out who is the traitor. The ending will reveal who is really the bad guy and who are the good guys, and the reader will be satisfied with the conclusion.
THE WICKED LOVER comes highly recommended. A complex plot, smart characters, and the backdrop of the life of the ton, the fan of historical romances will find this novel worth reading. Julia Ross has a gift for writing a unique type of romance novel, and this reviewer plans on reading more by her in the future.
She's defintly not for readers who enjoy Laurens, or Kleypas. Far from it. So if you happen to stop by at a used bookstore, and you've extended your books written by authors that you enjoy reading from, take a peak at ross' books and then decide if you want to take to time to read a tedious wordy book.