Publisher: Pocket Books (2010)
Format: Mass Market Paperback | 402 pages
Genre(s): Historical Romance
Historical romances are usually light, fluffy reads. That's why I read them, at least. They are fun, the heroes are tortured but somewhat progressive (so they are able to take the sass of our female protagonists) and the heroines are cute, innocent but also very sure of themselves. Most of all, there's a "happy ever after". It's like a fairy tail for adults.Description (GR): "She’s been burned not once but twice by London’s so-call ed gentlemen . . .Gwen Maudsley is pretty enough to be popular, and plenty wealthy, too. But what she’s best known and loved for is being so very, very nice. When a cad jilts her at the altar—again—the scandal has her outraged friends calling for blood. Only Gwen has a different plan. If nice no longer works for her, then it’s time to learn to be naughty. Happily, she knows the perfect tutor—Alexander Ramsey, her late brother’s best friend and a notorious rogue.So why won’t a confirmed scoundrel let her be as bad as she wants to be?Unbeknownst to Gwen, Alex’s aloof demeanor veils his deepest unspoken desire. He has no wish to see her change, nor to tempt himself with her presence when his own secrets make any future between them impossible. But on a wild romp from Paris to the Riviera, their friendship gives way to something hotter, darker, and altogether more dangerous. With Alex’s past and Gwen’s newly unleashed wildness on a collision course, Gwen must convince Alex that his wickedest intentions are exactly what she needs."
That said, most historical romances while mostly focused on the romance also show us a glimpse of life in other times. Sure, it's not very historically accurate and the society, politics and economics of the period are not the focus, but there's always something to learn.
And then there are historical romances like Wicked Becomes You. Who give you romance, some historical background (it seemed quite well researched, actually, but then I'm not an expert) and great (and I mean great, great) characters.
Gwen is a very rich heiress but her parents were of common origins. Her origins are still important at the end of the 19th century (1890, when this book takes place) even though land and agriculture aren't viable money making sources anymore. Gentry and nobility alike are up to their necks in debt and business men are on the rise. Still, members of high society still look at "self-made men" as only a necessary evil. At the same time, these business men want to achieve social status so they try to marry into the nobility.
This is the foundation of this book. In this confusing time of Victorian strictness but also of suffragettes, our heroine was trained to be the perfect model of the Victorian female: demure, decorative, always smiling at everyone...
But after she is jilted twice, she decides that enough is enough. She will be wild. She will be free. And the entire journey of self-discovery Gwen goes through is fascinating. Bred to be proper, always, it's difficult for her to overcome her education. To admit her desires. To gain self-confidence.
Duran paints a vivid portrait of the period through description and the struggles of both her hero and her heroine.
I loved the whole book. It would have been a 5 star book except it took a while to "kick off" and those first pages were a bit boring. And the resolution felt rushed and confusing.
Overall an engaging and interesting read. Wicked Becomes You has a lot of plot lines but they blended seamlessly and I liked it. The characters had chemistry and were properly developed. The romance was layered and realistically gradual. Recommended.