Title: Too Wicked to Wed (Lords of Midnight #1)
Author: Cara Elliott
Format: Mass Market Paperback & eBook
Publication Date: November 1, 2011[i]
Rating: 3.75 out of 5
Ms. Elliott is an author I’ve never read before, and when I saw that Too Wicked To Wed was the first in a new series, I thought this would be the perfect time to check out her books. Although I had a few issues with some of the nicknames for the male characters (more on that later), I thought this was an engaging read with intriguing characters and steamy romance.
Lady Alexa Hendrie[ii] has always managed her father’s estate, but now that her brother Sebastian is married, she will be relinquishing that job. She therefore decides to head to London and attempts to find a husband on the marriage mart, but her years of study and work on the estate have left her outspoken and intelligent, a dangerous combination in a lady competing with simpering misses. Her impetuous ways have gotten her into trouble before, most notably when she entered the notorious gaming hell and brothel, The Wolf’s Lair, to search for her brother. The owner of the Wolf’s Lair, Connor Linsley, Earl of Killingworth, kissed her silly, and she’s never been able to forget the experience.
Connor Linsley, or the Irish Wolfhound as society likes to call him, is undergoing a run of bad luck. He’s forced to borrow money from his friend Gryffin Dwight to cover his losses at the tables. Unfortunately, during a night of heavy play at the card tables, Gryff writes an IOU on the back of the slip of paper granting him half ownership of the Wolf’s Lair. To compound his error, Gryff’s lost to none other than Lady Alexa, disguised as a Norwegian youth. Suddenly Connor Linsley and Lady Alexa find themselves co-owners of a disreputable gaming hell and the focus of a vicious attack. When the two escape to Linsley Close so Connor can recover from his wounds, they must find a way to fight their attraction to each other, for he is Too Wicked To Wed a young lady like Alexa.
I always enjoy heroines who are intelligent and outspoken, and Lady Alexa is no exception. I like that she’s well-educated in spite of society’s strictures and has experience running an estate, which comes in handy when she arrives at the nearly abandoned Linsley Close. In fact, the time that the hero and heroine spend at Linsley Close is my favorite, because we witness Alexa winning over both Connor and his people. Alexa works hard to restore the manor, and I really enjoyed both her competent manner and upbeat personality.
Connor Linsley is one of the grumpier heroes I’ve read in a while, in addition to being quite the hottie. Nothing says sexy like a bad-boy hero, and you don’t get much worse than a notorious rake who’s secretly running a brothel and a gaming hell. Of course, we learn later that he’s quite the “softie,” as he pays fair wages and protects the women who work for him, even going so far as to help them realize their dreams after they retire. But he can’t resist Alexa’s innocent passion, and frankly he doesn’t put up much of a fight.
I only have two complaints about the novel, the first of which drove me batty while reading. When I read the prologue and several later comments made by Alexa concerning her brother, I was under the impression that they were characters from another book. Sebastian is well-known to the other male characters and apparently has a history with them, since Connor references a favor Sebastian grudgingly owes him. However, when I searched Ms. Elliott’s webpage, I couldn’t find any mention of Sebastian. It’s very possible that I was looking in the wrong place, but the way the action unfolds in the prologue led me to believe that I had started reading in the middle of the series, which is not the case. In fact, Too Wicked to Wed is the beginning of a new trilogy.
My other issue with the novel has to do with the dog-related nicknames for the three male leads featured in the trilogy. Connor is the Irish Wolfhound, his friend Gryff is the Deerhound, and their mysterious friend Cameron is the Bloodhound. Frankly, all the dog references got old quickly. I was a little surprised that the trilogy is entitled Lords of Midnight, because I’m not sure how that title plays into their nicknames. It was a bit odd, and I’m not convinced that Gryff would be the Deerhound just because he runs after women. Cameron’s name, the Bloodhound, seems more appropriate, given his tendency to hunt down and acquire objects for himself and others. Still, it felt forced.
However, the romance was steamy and the heroine spirited, and I really enjoyed their time in the middle of the novel at Linsley Close the most. Since I usually get bored around the halfway point, this was a huge selling point for me. And despite the canine nicknames, the secondary characters were really interesting, and I will without a doubt check out Gryff’s book when it releases.
[i] Just FYI, the mass market paperback version of this book was available last Tuesday, but for some reason the eBook version wasn’t available until today. I’m not sure why that is, because I haven’t seen that sort of delay in releasing an ebook in nearly a year. In fact, just a few weeks ago you could purchase the ebook of Elizabeth Hoyt’s Scandalous Desires a week earlier than the paperback, which also seems odd. Anyway, as of November 1 you should be able to purchase Cara Elliot’s Too Wicked To Wed in either paper or electronic form.
[ii] In the synopsis on Amazon and Goodreads, she’s referred to as Lady Alexa Bingham, but in the ARC and other reviews have called her Alexa Hendrie.