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ARC review The Importance of Being Wicked by Miranda Neville

Title: The Importance of Being Wicked
Author: Miranda Neville
Source: Edelweiss
Genre: Historical Romance
Length: Novel (approx 384 pgs)
Published by Avon Release Date November 27, 2012

The rules of society don't apply to Caro and her coterie of bold men and daring women. But when passions flare, even the strongest will surrender to the law of love....

Thomas, Duke of Castleton, has every intention of wedding a prim and proper heiress. That is, until he sets eyes on the heiress's cousin, easily the least proper woman he's ever met. His devotion to family duty is no defense against the red-headed vixen whose greatest asset seems to be a talent for trouble...

Caroline Townsend has no patience for the oh-so-suitable (and boring) men of the ton. So when the handsome but stuffy duke arrives at her doorstep, she decides to put him to the test. But her scandalous exploits awaken a desire in Thomas he never knew he had. Suddenly Caro finds herself falling for this most proper duke...while Thomas discovers there's a great deal of fun in a little bit of wickedness.

After happily devouring Miranda Neville's Burgundy Club series I was thrilled with the opportunity to read her debut of a spinoff series The Importance of Being Wicked. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I tried I could not enjoy it :(

I found the heroine, Caroline aka Caro, unlikeable. She idealizes her alcoholic/gambling addict late husband to excess. She acts irresponsibly towards the care of her innocent cousin. She lets her 'friends' treat her like a complete doormat. But the most damning thing, to me, was she married Thomas,The Duke of Castleton, with great enthusiasm but it took months into their marriage and a great tragedy before she showed her true self to a man that she was supposedly completely smitten with. The whole thing was hard for me. Thomas is a wonderfully written respectable gentlemen, if not a bit stuffy (Caro actually refers to him as Lord Stuffy to her friends throughout the book!) He's absolutely in love with her and she keeps him, emotionally, at arms length for the first 250 pages of the book! I felt horrible for the man. He's 30 years old but reminds me more of a naive, sheltered teenaged boy. Caro's character reminded me more of the 'opportunistic female villain' of historical romances rather than the heroine.

Perhaps I'm being harsh because I did love the Burgundy Club so much, and my expectations were too high. I was expecting more of the previous series's formula of mystery, intrigue, and love. What I got was an unbelievable match, almost no drama, and an extremely unlikeable heroine :(

There were a few saving graces to The Importance to Being Wicked. The last 100 pages (when the 'real' Caro finally introduced herself to Thomas) were great. After she decided to stop acting like a rebellious child the relationship was finally believable and highly enjoyable to read.

Oliver, a 'starving artist' type that lives in Caro's carriage house, was funny and refreshing. His open and honest charm was a breathe of fresh air in contrast to the heroine's personality.

I'm just not sure if I can recommend this one. I'm hoping that Neville can bring back the spark in future installments of this series, until then I'll just reread the Burgundy Club series and try to stop hating Caro so much :)


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