Friday, January 22, 2010

REVIEW: Wicked All Day by Liz Carlyle

ISBN 978-1-4165-9492-5
(c) October 2009, Pocket Books, Simon and Schuster
Buy Link (ebook): Barnes and Noble Ebook 

"Enjoyable with a unique, fiesty heroine" 

I read this and Tempted All Night back to back and while I was writing my reviews, I interchanged them. Ugh. Good thing I discovered my mistake on time or y'all would have been confused.

Before I start my review, I would like to take a moment and say I love love love the cover. And I rarely gush about covers, since all of them are interchangeable, one way or the other. The same with titles. I know, I know. I'm digressing. As I was saying, the woman in this book's cover could have been Zoe, with her dark hair, heart-shaped face and that impish expression on her face. She's so pretty it's not a stretch to imagine her breaking hearts all over London.

Our intrepid heroine, Zoe Armstrong, is the bastard daughter of Lord Rannoch, hero of My False Heart. I call her brave because it takes a lot to go against Society's notions of how an unmarried yong lady should behave. The reason she behaves deliberately in this way is rooted in her youth, when as a little girl (before her father married Evie) she hears ugly things about her due to her parentage and decides, why not be bad instead since being good does not seem to do anything for her?

It's her way of thumbing her nose at Society, who looked down on her due to her parentage, her way of declaring she doesn't care how they see her. But deep down, I believe she does care. This can be seen in her reaction when Robin, betrothed to her, kissed a tavern maid in front of her. She rebukes him for his actions, not because he'd been unfaithful to her, but because she couldn't bear the pity in other people's eyes. She cares about what people would think of her. As can be imagined, she is a trial to her father, whose infamous temper is once again displayed here. However, Lord Rannoch truly loves his daughter and only wishes for her to be happy.

Stuart Rowland is the grim Marquess of Mercer, cold and restraint, and Zoe has always incited strong, frustrating feelings in him that he can't quite grasp or control. Hence, he denies them, forces them out of his mind and heart, and feels it's safer to lose himself in the arms of his paramours or mistresses. Until the day he sees Zoe in a compromising position in Robin's arms and realizes he could lose her in marriage to another man. And his world explodes in his face.

To head off a scandal, Robin and Zoe are engaged and they all head to Greythorpe, Mercer's country seat. It is here that Stuart (Mercer) comes to terms with his feelings and decides to act. I buy into Mercer's feelings for Zoe and his self-revelation, but are we to believe that Zoe never realized how attractive Mercer was before they went down to Greythorpe and she had her alone time with him? Maybe she was blinded by the fact that she thought the only thing Mercer felt for her was annoyance and vexation at her pranks? That he lived only to scold and chastise her? That she could never do anything good/right in his sight? Or, maybe Robin's subsequent behavior finally put Mercer's strength and restraint into good light.

Because I haven't read any Liz Carlyle when I heard about Wicked All Day, I went and read My False Heart and A Woman Scorned and Tempted All Night first before coming to this book. And I like visiting with previous characters, since it's a treat for me to know what happened to them months, years after their romance. Another added plus is the interaction between the characters. Rannoch is still temperamental, especially where his children (inclusive of Evie's cousins) are concerned, and Evie is there to soothe and balance him. We can also see the respect Stuart and Robin have for Cole (their stepfather), and Stuart's role as the older brother to Robin, and the conflict he felt in their current situation. In any case, it's interesting to see the characters keep true to their previous characterizations, with Stuart the grim and restraint Lord Mercer, when duty and responsibilities are forced on his young shoulders, and Robin's carefree, devil-may-care attitude. Though this is not to say that the characters didn't change and grow throughout the book.

However, I feel it isn't necessary to read the other books in order to enjoy Wicked All Day, since it's basically a stand-alone book. The only thing that left me slightly dissatisfied is my wishing for more romantic scenes between Zoe and Mercer. I feel there's not quite enough of them.

Rating: 3 stars

Buy Links (paper): Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble
Buy Link (ebook): Barnes and Noble Ebook

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