A while back, Tasha at Heidenkind’s Hideaway started this and hated it, ending up with a DNF review. She sent it on to me because I used to really like Gaelen Foley, and I’ve finally had the chance to read it. Today Tasha is reviewing a book I sent her in our exchange, so head on over there to see what she’s reviewing.
Max, the Marquess of Rotherstone, a member of the infamous Inferno Club, has decided that it’s time to take a wife now that his duties for the country have ended at the close of the war with Napoleon. He receives a list from his solicitor and from it chooses Daphne Starling, who is kind-hearted, sweet, and devotes her time to poor orphans in a very dangerous section of town. She’s also gorgeous, which plays no small part in his decision. They meet and begin to fall in love, but Max is unable to forget his past and the secrets he must keep steadily drive a wedge between them.
I’m definitely of two minds about this book. I’ve noticed a trend in many historicals towards having a wicked group of men as a centre point for a series. And Foley is trying to do that, but there’s a serious problem, namely that Max isn’t wicked at all. At least, no more than a normal romance hero, and to be honest no one treats him like the “Wicked Marquess” except to call him that. This couple doesn’t even “do it” before their wedding night and in a book where the courtship happens beforehand, I can probably count on one hand the number of times that happens. So, before I even start, my expectations are thwarted, although in this case I liked it because I think wicked men are overrated and I’d rather have a sweet hero who wants someone to actually love him than a cold-hearted rake who has to be forced into it.
Second, the mystery plot with the Inferno Club and a supposedly dead member of it takes up at least a third of the book and is simply not interesting. And this is what binds this forthcoming series together. This secondary “plot” requires way too much info-dumping, with one particularly notable section at the end which, frankly, I skipped over. I just could not take these men seriously as scandalous men and I couldn’t get what the big deal was. It felt so contrived, just to add on some suspense which doesn’t feel real anyway. Yes, the war was terrible, but now we have this mystical feud with secret societies dating back to the Middle Ages? Honestly, yuck. I hate that sort of storyline and I hate it more when it’s done badly. And then the worst part was that it didn’t end. No, instead half of the epilogue is taken up by a clear lead-in to Foley’s next book. I am not reading romance novels for unending plots, especially when I’ve been bored by it for an entire book.
On the other hand, though, I actually thought the love story was stupidly cute and sweet. Sure, the characters are stereotypes, especially Daphne (barring a strange personality shift for about ten pages towards the end), but that’s not really anything new. I went in expecting the book to be downright terrible in every way, but I liked Max and Daphne together, and having known a person with childhood deep control issues, I could understand some of her obstinacy in resisting the relationship better perhaps than some. There was a scene with the typical “stop arguing, I’ll control you with your passion!!” thing that I hate (seriously, this would never happen in real life), but it didn’t happen again and Daphne got properly irritated after the fact, rather than passively smiling at the way she’d been manipulated. But I guess I like corny relationships, because I was a fan of theirs by the end.
And that’s all I really have to say about My Wicked Marquess. Gaelen Foley is definitely not writing what she’s capable of, but I have to wonder if she added on the wickedness and the secret societies to placate her need to fit into the current mainstream. I guess I’d better stop expecting her to come up with another Prince Charming.
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