Every once in a while you click with a book and you enjoy it so much, you are completely happy to be left alone, just to read. I will say right now that I loved this book. How have I never read anything by Victoria Alexander before? I finished The Importance of Being Wicked by Victoria Alexander on Saturday and had to write a review.
I love a romance that has wonderful chemistry between the hero and heroine and a fabulous group of secondary characters. This book delivers on both accounts with flying colors. The dialogue flowed and the story line was fresh and interesting. I can’t tell you how many times I laughed out loud while reading this book. It’s a very good thing I wasn’t reading this on the NYC subway, or people would probably have moved their seat away from me. :)
The question of the book was posed by Winfield’s cousin. ”What if you did meet and marry someone you were convinced was your soulmate….what if..you were wrong?”
Lady Miranda Garret has been widowed for 3 years, and has taken over her husband’s architectural firm. What the world doesn’t really know is that she is, and has always been the actual architect, drawing the plans and supervising the construction site. She hides behind plain and proper clothes, a severe hair style, and horribly ugly boots. She believed she had the perfect marriage with her late husband and couldn’t imagine she could be happy again.
Fairborough Hall is the ancestral house of the Earl of Fairborough. At the start of the book, a fire burns down half the home and while everyone makes it out alive, the house is in shambles and needs to be rebuilt. Lord Stillwell hired Garrett and Tempest, the firm owned and operated by Lady Miranda Garrett, to bring his estate back to its former glory. They meet and argue about everything related to progress, including electricity and the telephone. Miranda brands Winfield stodgy and constantly keeps him off-balance and confused. However, a tiny piece of her is attracted to him and wonders why, with his rakish reputation, he never has tried to even kiss her.
Lord Winfield Elliot, Viscount Stillwell, heir to the earldom of Fairborough has had three failed engagements and has been left with a terrible reputation of being a rake, and just an all around wicked rogue. He was never in love with his ex-fiancee’s, but he thought that maybe, in time he might have been able to love one of them. The first lady jilted him for a better prospect, the second jilted him because he was too amusing, and the third, because she loved someone else.
You see, the truth is that Winfield, Lord Stillwell, is really a very nice man. He doesn’t know what love is, but he wants to fall in love. That was the only fault of this book for me. I never felt that Winfield was so very wicked. He was a sweetheart; just the kind of man a woman could fall for.
Which of course leads us back to Lady Garrett, who, no matter how hard she tried to push him away by arguing, confusing Winfield, and throwing every obstacle in his way, fell in love with him, at the same time he was falling in love with her. Neither one of them saw it, but everyone around them did. Winfield had no idea he was in love, but knew he didn’t want to compete with a dead man, and Miranda didn’t want to think that she could love someone else again.
The plot involves the identity of the mysterious investor in the architectural firm. Even Miranda had no idea who he was. Miranda had secrets of her own, as she was reluctant to tell her family and Winfield that she was the actual architect. But the main plot of the book was the wonderful interplay between Miranda and Winfield as they fought first the attraction and then the love between them. Miranda realized that maybe she does need a little bit of “wicked” in her life, and Winfield realized that all the women who he had before were only a prelude to this woman, who was the love of his life. It was truly lovely writing and emotion.
For me, this book ranks up there for me with one of my favorite Susan Enoch books, The Rake. It has the similar chemistry, comedic feel and same wonderful cast of characters. And I do mean characters. Just the scheming mothers alone in this book are worth the read.
The one thing I didn’t like, is that since I have never read any of Ms. Alexander’s books before, I started out with the last book in the series, instead of the first. Of course that doesn’t mean I won’t be reading all the other previous “Milworth Manor” books. You should too. You will not be disappointed at all.