by Tessa Dare, historical (2012, reissue)
Avon Impulse, $3.99, ISBN 978-0-06-227137-2
The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright was previously published in the indie anthology Three Weddings And A Murder back in 2011, and it's now available as a separate short story. I'm not sure if there are any significant revisions in this particular edition, though, as while I'm confident that I do have that anthology, it's buried somewhere in my digital pile of unread books and I am scared to dig through it at this moment.
This one is not related to the author's Spindle Cove books. In fact, it feels more like a traditional Regency story in some ways, although a chapter all about the boinking is slapped on to ensure that it still qualifies as a mainstream historical romance.
Eliza Cade can't make her Season debut until her older sisters are married first, mostly because of a big social faux pas that she made back when she was fourteen. Her father is certain that she would do something equally thoughtless when she is inflicted on London, so he decides to err on the side of caution and make sure that his other daughters are all respectably married off before Eliza drags the reputation of the whole family through the mud.
This may sound like an overreaction on her father's part, but considering how Eliza just happens to find herself in a room with only a gentleman with a horrible reputation - our scandalous, dissolute, no-good Harry Wright, naturally - for company, her father may just be on to something there. At any rate, nothing dramatic happens during that encounter, but Harry and Eliza will bump into each other over the next two years or so, until they realize that they may just be right for one another after all.
It says a lot about the author's way with words that Harry's coming on to Eliza from the start - which can seem predatory and disquieting, considering that she's a sheltered proper lady and he has no intentions of making an honest woman out of her - actually seem both amusing and brimming with sexual tension at the same time. I actually find the more PG-13 type of interactions between those two more sensual than the actual no-clothes all-boinking moments, heh. Eliza comes off as a charming young lady who is more sheltered than stupid, and Harry is a pretty appealing rogue.
I feel that the story is the strongest during its first few dozen or so pages, when the characters match wits and play one another off very well. The momentum of the story slowly peters out as months pass by for the characters, and the familiar tropes start piling on. Still, the story manages to retain its initial gloss of good-natured charm, and I finish this story with a smile. It's pretty incredible, considering that the hero pulls the tedious "I'll boink you but I'm not good enough for you so I'll take my leave afterward, bye!" act that never fails to come off as a weak justification for a self-serving user.
All things considered, The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright is a pretty adorable read. It won't make the world a better place, but it will do for an hour or two of vicarious fun.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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