Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “We have been bad, I think…very bad.”
Lord Ywain Hemingford (Ives) is the son of a Duke and a talented barrister who is a favorite of the crown. A man known to have particular tastes in the bedroom, his choice of mistresses is limited to professionals and worldly widows who are more than able to handle his vivacious appetites. Having just let go of his latest paramour go, Ives is in the middle of writing a list of qualities his next mistress will have when his butler interrupts to announce a caller:
Padua Belvoir, daughter of a scholar and a progressive teacher for an all girls school, has come to Ives in engage his services. Her father has been charged with a serious crime and sent to Newgate to await trial. As his reputation is known for helping the underdog, Padua hopes Ives will help her save her father from the gallows. Unfortunately, Ives has already taken the case as the prosecutor for crown. Padua’s best hope has become her greatest adversary.
“It is always useful to meet one’s adversary.”
“I am not your adversary, Miss Belvoir. You are not the one who will be on trial.”
“We will have opposite goals, so I think the word is accurate.”
Ives attraction to Padua and his need to ensure justice is indeed served compels him to help Padua investigate her father’s case. As they get closer to the truth of what her father has done and why, so does the intensity of their attraction. But Padua refuses to become just another woman to warm Ives bed. She wants it all…but Ives isn’t sure he can give her what she needs.
The second installment of Madeline Hunter’s Wicked Trilogy sets up an engaging adversaries to lovers trope filled with humor, wit, erotically charged love scenes, and a strong dose of suspense and intrigue. Steady pacing, delicious dialogue, and a strong initial setup sets readers on a delightful course that introduces our hero and heroine and sets the stage for the next brother to fall victim to cupid’s arrow.
I found myself instantly smitten by our hero and heroine. Heavily character driven, our protagonists are a compelling mixture of contrasts that only serves to highlight their compatibility. Though their stations in life place them at opposite ends of the social spectrum, they are both intelligent, strong, loyal people who mess together brilliantly. Ives is a delightfully sexy alpha with a heart of gold and a commanding nature. A good decent man whose sedate exterior hides a charming rake whose flirtations and naughty suggestions are charmingly displayed. His stealth pursuit and seduction of Padua is shown in his need to make sure she is safe and well cared for at all times.
“What a loss if you had not been born, Padua. To the world but mostly to them. […] And I would have never met the rarity that is Padua Belvoir.”
Padua is a fascinating woman. A flower in the rough, she doesn’t let her station in life stop her from getting what she wants. From teaching her female students complicated math to proving her father’s innocence, Padua is a force to be reckoned with. While her loyalty and intelligence is engaging; it’s her strong nature that pulls you into her orbit. Not a shy retiring miss; she embraces her attraction to Ives, intent on enjoying her time with him as long as she can. Though, there is a vulnerability within her that appears at certain times, letting us know that she is well aware of the differences between her and Ives.
“It would not last, but for a day or so she would not have to worry about where she would sleep and what she would eat. What must it be like to never, ever have to worry about such things? She could not imagine such a life in full, but for a few moments she had a hint of what it must taste like.”
Ives and Padua’s romance begins slowly, neither of them were looking for love due to the awkwardness of their situation. Their chemistry is a physical presence that only serves to increase its flame as the story progresses. Neither are one for games of the heart (though in the bedroom-all bets are off) nor are we inundated with overly dramatic misconstrued events. There is playfulness to their affair and lovemaking that surprisingly blends well with the seriousness of the conflict. Their passions are evenly matched and you will swoon as Ives seeks to teach Padua everything there is to know about the pleasures of the flesh.
“The first thing is that you do as I say,” he explained.
“You command me, you mean,”
“You can say no.”
“It sounds-It should not be exciting, but I find the notion is. A little frightening but-”
“The second thing is you will answer my questions.”
“We will be chatting?”
“You will tell me things I want to hear.”
“You will address me as my lord.”
“This has nothing to do with your title, does it?”
An eccentric and amusing cast of secondary characters only serves to further endear you to this family. Garth and his lovely bride, Eva are back (Wicked Intentions) as is Ives other brother, Lance, the newest Duke. I loved the frank and humorous speech between them all. The brothers truly care for one another and their dialogue more than proves this. All three are an adventurous lot and I look forward to Lance’s story next.
The main conflict resolves itself in a climactic fashion as the pieces all come together in a tidy and interesting conclusion and the story ends in a delightful manner, assuring us Ives and Padua will be just fine together. Ms. Hunter continues to delight and intrigue fans with her latest historical offering and I look forward to reading about the last wicked brother.