Pub Date: August 2010
Publisher: Zebra (Kensington)
Length: 329 pages
FTC: Purchased at RT11 book signing
This month's TBR Challenge theme was, "All About The Hype (a book that created such chatter that it was inescapable)." Normally, that comes in the form of squeeing fangirls, glowing reviews from every single person on Twitter, and the non-stop appearances on various review blogs. My choice is a bit different, as it was the negative attention that made this book omnipresent for a few weeks back in 2010.
There was a lot of hoopla surrounding A Little Bit Wild when it first came out. Those who loved it, and those who...didn't. If you follow that link, you'll see accusations of the heroine possessing "raging horniness" and being "unapologetically lusty". Which promptly called forth the backlash against the standard historical models and resulted in a huge internet kerfuffle. I wanted to find out what the fuss was about and make up my own mind...but of course, was distracted by some newer, shinier book and this book was promptly relegated to my embarrassing TBR.
Victoria Dahl writes unconventional heroines who are, for the most part, not hung up on their sexuality. And that can cause some push back from readers who expect their historical heroines to be either a) virgins or b) widows. But anyone remotely familiar with Victoria Dahl knows that her heroines are naughty, so I went into this with eyes wide open.
Unfortunately, this book was a struggle for me to finish. I can take sexually adventurous heroines, even in historical romances, but I have major issues with selfish, idiotic, and immature ones. Which pretty much describes Marissa York to a tee. She's so shallow, and I have a difficult time spending 300 pages with a character who annoys me. Instead of coming off as sexually curious (and a wee bit hormonal), she is vain, superficial, and completely self-absorbed. Incapable of seeing beyond her own desires to show any empathy or compassion towards others.
Which is how she ends up caught in the act under a grunting man she was mildly attracted to, but hadn't really considered marrying. And not giving a thought to getting caught or potential scandal. It's like she just couldn't think beyond her own wants and needs to consider anything or anyone else.
I love stories where characters undergo an emotional growth arc, but it's a bit of a struggle for me when they start out as someone so completely unappealing. And I do have a bit of a double standard, here, as I love *heroes* who start out as asshats. But in my defense, they're rarely superficial ninnies. That being said, Marissa's growth in this book is lovely. She's still a bit of a shallow ninny at the end, but she's a far better person overall.
Jude is without a doubt the only thing that kept me reading for the first 150 pages. He seems to be the only one NOT shocked by Marissa's wild escapades. In fact, he's very attracted by her naughty nature. If Marissa is as deep as a mudpuddle, Jude is the opposite. So deep, so calm, he sometimes seems a bit unreal. But he's honorable, compassionate, and quite smart.
I doubt I'd want to read this book again, simply because Marissa is so teeth-grindingly annoying, but it's well done, unusual, and I appreciate an author who takes chances in a genre that trends towards homogeneity.
My Grade: B-
He Is Not What She Had In Mind.Jude Bertrand is not an excellent dancer. Nor does he wear the most fashionable coats. But when Marissa York's brother approaches him, desperate to preserve Marissa's tenuous reputation, Jude does prove heroic enough to offer to marry the girl. In fact, the union should more than make up for his lack of social graces—and his own scandalous past...But Minds Change...Marissa knows that betrothal to the son of a duke—even one as raw and masculine as Jude—will save her from ruin, but that doesn't mean she's happy about it. Soon, though, she finds that Jude has a surprisingly gentle touch—and plans to use it to persuade Marissa that their wedding day cannot come soon enough...