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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

ARC Review: Wicked Little Secrets by Susanna Ives

Every now and then, after reading hundreds of historical romances, you run across a book that is truly, refreshingly different. Wicked Little Secrets is a delight of a little story, unlike any I can recall. If it were a movie it would definitely be a romantic comedy, complete with touches of slapstick. The hero and heroine were both a little silly and very flawed, but unquestionably fun. Romance readers will enjoy this Victorian romp.

Just about the time that Vivienne Taylor finally secures an engagement to wealthy John Vandergriff, who should arrive back in town but her childhood friend (and secret heart-throb), Lord Dashiell. Years before Dashiell had felt sorry for his precocious next-door neighbor and declared her his little sister. He has spent the meantime sowing his oats in archeological pursuits and wild living. Upon seeing Vivienne when he returns Dashiell realizes that his feelings for her are no longer sisterly. Vivienne realizes that she is still attracted to Dashiell, but she must marry John because her family is close to financial ruin. Our hero and heroine become embroiled in a mystery involving her aunt, his grandfather, a couple of whorehouse madams, and more. Twists and turns abound as Vivienne and Dashiell try (not very successfully) to fight their growing attraction and avoid entanglements that neither is free to enjoy. Vivienne’s impulsiveness and naiveté and Dashiell’s attempts to be a better man make for a lot of humorous adventures.

I liked many, many things about Wicked Little Secrets. It was quirky, charming and laugh-out-loud funny in places. Susanna Ives has such great comic vision that I suspect she should be comedy screenwriter. I think that most readers “see” the story in their mind’s eye when they read, playing like a movie. The book’s hilarious scenes were so accurately described that the reader could picture every movement. I cannot recall another book where a writer used visual imagery in quite the same way. The fun was not limited to action scenes; Ives injected plenty of humorous dialogue as well. Vivienne and Dashiell were both endearingly flawed characters. Far from being “large and in charge,” they were both emotional and a little goofy, making poor but well-intentioned decisions. There was a rather complicated mystery that unfolded during the story and it kept the reader’s attention. A secondary budding romance between his grandfather and her aunt was pretty close to adorable. Ives successfully managed to poke fun at religion without being irreverent. My only significant criticism of the book was that the writing was a bit choppy. It didn’t flow as nicely as I would have liked. At times the movement of the story seemed a bit erratic, but Wicked Little Secrets made up for that with fun. You don’t want to miss this book – it was a hoot.

**ARC provided by NetGalley**

Purchase: | Amazon | Kindle | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository |


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