Wednesday, August 11, 2010
A Perfect 10:
A Perfect 10
Lincolnshire, England – 1847
Sometimes being A LITTLE BIT WILD can have life changing repercussions. Bored and a little tipsy from wine at her family’s first house party of the season, Marissa York is tired of simply flirting and foolishly gives up her virginity to Peter White. Decidedly lackluster and over almost before it begins, Marissa tries to push him off so she can escape quickly; however, fate intercedes when her brother Edward, wondering why she was missing from the party, walks in to find Marissa indisposed and threatens to kill Peter. Peter, of course, has accomplished his goal and readily offers to marry Marissa, professing his undying love. Now very sober and in her right mind, Marissa is no longer attracted to her simpering suitor, and unequivocally insists that she’s not having anything to do with a wedding. But Edward knows his sister’s honor is at stake and means to take matters into his own hands…well, as soon as he passes on the bad news to his younger brother Aidan.
Aidan has changed after the death of his fiancée and spends his days angry or stonily silent, but the family has no choice but to include him in a possible solution. So while he glowers at Marissa for getting herself into such a silly and scandalous situation, his close friend, Jude Bertrand, intent on saving Marissa from herself, offers marriage. Jude’s mother is a courtesan who fell in love with a duke, so while he's technically a bastard, his father still recognizes him as his natural born son, making him respectable enough. To Jude it’s a no-brainer because he’s always liked Marissa and her feisty spirit, even though she’s never really noticed him before today. Marissa looks on in horror at this big, rugged man with his broad face and muscular thighs, and Jude simply stares at her with his arresting brown eyes giving her a sexy smile filled with promise. Uh oh…
Jude’s plan is to show Marissa the difference between the pretty boys she’s been playing with and a real man, and my goodness, he excels at it, wearing her down cleverly. He doesn’t mind her naughtiness and assures her she can talk to him about anything, encouraging her to be herself. Marissa doesn’t mince words as she tells Jude she doesn’t even like him, but when he reads one of her romance novels and talks intelligently about the plot, she starts to warm up just a little. Daring to speak about some of the sexual thoughts she’s had and he’s observed, including the “ogling of men’s legs,” Marissa is embarrassed, yet intrigued. It seems Jude can speak on just about any topic, including one of her favorites, gardening. If there are no ‘consequences’ from her act with Peter White, both agree that there will no need to wed. No, he may not be beautiful, but something about Jude is stirring and hot.
A LITTLE BIT WILD delivers a winning plot from Victoria Dahl that has me wondering why I’d never heard of her work before. Dahl’s writing is so effortless and emotionally grounded that she surely must have been born with pen in hand. In addition, she has a wicked sense of humor. When Marissa initially meets Jude, it’s clear that she is a little shallow and that’s the main point of the story. The rest of the cast, while small, play a pivotal role in what appears to be a match NOT made in heaven. Nevertheless, Jude’s deep sensuality and witty conversation have Marissa so twisted in knots she can’t help but be attracted. Aidan may not be as liberal as he thinks, as he subtly attacks Jude’s background, but deep down realizes he’s a hypocrite, with some serious issues of his own. Though a virgin until very recently, Marissa’s dalliances from the past creep up to bite her, creating havoc for everyone around her. Marissa’s mother is the drama queen you’ve seen on the screen, prone to fainting at the slightest hint of trouble, and she’s a hoot. So engaged in this compelling tale, I screamed, “NO!” when Marissa went too far and insulted Jude who has just been this incredible rock. Jude, realizing their backgrounds are too different, says goodbye and calls off the betrothal. He wants everything she has to give and doesn’t think she has it in her. I peeked inside this incredible soul who’s hurting, but still has his pride, and cried because I felt his pain. If that wasn’t enough, I was sobbing all over the pristine pages of the book when Marissa finally gets it, knowing how much she loves this complicated man, needing to fight to get him to stay, hoping it isn’t too late. Used to a quick ending from most of the romance novels on the market, I was pleased that A LITTLE BIT WILD continued to develop realistically, before coming to the stunning conclusion.
Laugh out loud, cry into your hanky, and leap head first into the joy of A LITTLE BIT WILD. Deserving of a Perfect 20, but since our highest rating only goes to 10, it will just have to do.