Review: Too Wicked to Wed by Cara Elliott

This is the beginning of Cara Elliott’s new trilogy Lords of Midnight and one of the best things about this book was undoubtedly the aforementioned Lords. I loved the interactions between Connor, Cameron, and Gryff. They each have distinct personalities, which is sometimes a pitfall in these types of historical romance series. I’m most looking forward to Cameron’s story; he’s a mysterious chameleon and I’m very curious as to what his story is.

Lady Alexa is an independent and unusual heroine—who actually was independent and unusual. She is very likeable and has the perfect balance of spitfire and common sense. For many years she was responsible for running the family estate and is much more comfortable in the countryside than in a London ballroom. In various different situations, we see both Alexa’s strength of character and her vulnerability and as I mentioned, she was very consistently written. Some might find her insecurities annoying, but they are all expressed internally, so we’re the only ones who know them; on the outside she remains calm and composed.

I did have some problems with Connor. As a character, he definitely had his moments and there were a lot of times when I really liked him. I’m a fan of the working HR hero, which includes down-on-their-luck lords who have to come up with creative ways to support their family. My main issue was that while Alexa actually was as she was supposed to be, Elliott did not achieve the same authenticity with Connor. He is nicknamed Wolfhound and is supposed to be this grumpy and forbidding man, whom everyone is a little wary of. There were times when that description fit him to a “T”, but it was not done consistently. The “Wolf” thing is mentioned all the time, and while I was expecting someone like The Raven Prince’s Edward de Raaf or If You Deceive’s Ethan MacCarrick, we’re instead given a milquetoast version.

The dynamic between Alexa and Connor was great and I really enjoyed their exchanges. The chemistry between them was well done, though I didn’t like the first love scene and found it far too corny. I love when standard romance setups are turned around, and that’s the case with Too Wicked to Wed, in which Alexa emerges as the pursuer and Connor the one being pursued. She puts herself out there several times, while Connor can’t seem to decide whether he wants to pull her in or push her away. Despite several situations that could have been turned into Big Misunderstandings, Elliott thankfully avoids those opportunities. Because of how the plot unfolds, Alexa and Connor end up having a lot of one-on-one time together, which I liked; unless characters know one another before the book starts, that is almost always necessary in order for me to believe there is a connection beyond lust.

I enjoyed their developing respect and affection for one another, but it was overshadowed a little by the two major obstacles Elliott puts in their way. The interpersonal obstacle felt very contrived and I was never quite clear on why Connor objects the idea of marriage for so long. There are allusions to the standard hero-has-been-alone-and-was-hurt-and-can’t-trust-anyone, as well as he-wants-to-be-with-her-but-he’s-not-right-for-her-and-for-her-own-good-he-will-leave-her-alone, but nothing was fully fleshed out. That last one always drives me crazy, because it is so condescending to the heroine. The mystery plot obstacle was unbelievably ridiculous. The subplot of someone targeting Connor started off well, but the mystery of who is doing it and why did not make any sense and it ended up feeling like something of a farce.

The book was an enjoyable read and despite my criticisms, I did find it hard to put down. Nonetheless, certain aspects could have benefitted from a little more tightening and refining, and were too bothersome to ignore. I like Elliott’s writing style and I always find her characters to have that little something different that keeps them interesting, which is much appreciated by a reader who has read hundreds of historical romances. I look forward to the other two books in the Lords of Midnight trilogy—Cameron’s in particular—and hope they don’t repeat Too Wicked to Wed’s mistakes.

One of My Favorite Quotes:

Honor be damned. At that moment, he was sorely tempted to follow her out of bed and do just that. Instead, he contented himself with a crooked grin.

“You are tantalizingly lovely.”

“You are dangerously delirious.”

“Then perhaps you ought to come back to bed and minister to my dying needs.”

Recommendations:
If you like these character types and/or plot setup, you might like …
Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas
Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas
And Then He Kissed Her by Laura Lee Guhrke
Dangerous by Amanda Quick
A Notorious Love by Sabrina Jeffries

Rating: C+
Too Wicked to Wed by Cara Elliott
November 1st 2011 by Forever
Historical Romance
Series
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