MARRIAGE TO A NOBLEMAN? NOT IN HER WILDEST DREAMS. . .
The daughter of a disgraced woman and a common actor, Madelyn Swann has been shunned by the nobility. No proper lady would traipse about on a Covent Garden stage, let alone sell herself at auction to the highest bidder. So why in heaven’s name would Nathan Atwood, Viscount Rowley, make a generous offer for her hand?
Turns out Maddy is exactly the type of woman Nathan wants as his wife. Finally, he can embarrass his snobbish and cruel father, the Earl of Gilmore—and scandalize London society—with his beautiful, unsuitable bride. Then he’ll depart England forever and leave his wife behind. Having secret plans of her own, Maddy is happy to play the role … only to find that enjoying her husband’s seduction requires no acting whatsoever. But as she falls madly in love with Nathan, can she persuade him to stay with her for always?
Candelabra and horse-drawn carriages stylishly adorn Drake's fifth Cinderella Sisterhood Regency romance (after Bella and the Beast), a spirited but sometimes predictable romance between two tainted blue bloods with separate revenge agendas. Actress Maddy Swann makes her living on the stage, just like her parents did. Her dream is to own a women's clothing shop. To get the money, she organizes a private auction to sell her virgin self to the highest bidder as his mistress for one year. Nate Atwood, the rakish Viscount Rowley, offers a bid too good to be true: for marriage, not a mistress. He intends to scandalize his snobbish, tyrannical father. The unconventional business arrangement gets complicated when Maddy and Nate fall deeply in love, and then the shocking secrets of their pedigrees come to light. Readers may struggle to enjoy the tale of two very unhappy individuals in a contrived situation amid a long-winded plot of familial vengeance. Drake concludes with a message of love and forgiveness as an antidote to the leads' bitterness.
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Wilde’s writing is a pleasure as we skip through the scenarios
We’ve all seen this: heroes and heroines in historic romance with fairly commonplace traits: second sons, dysfunctional family relationships, inappropriate or scandalous career choices and beliefs, even a deep-rooted hesitation to commit. With all of those similar issues, there is a need for the author to make these moments fresh and new so their story stands out from the crowd. In Olivia Drake’s His Wicked Wish, she does just that with characters that bring themselves to the table, good and bad, and show how they learn to function with, or despite, those traits that are unusual or unexpected for their sex or position in society.
Nathan is back in England after a long absence, brought home only by a letter from his Godmother, telling him of his father’s impending death. With delays and miscommunication, and a recovery, Nathan arrives only to find his father is recovered but his brother has died. A cruel blow, as he despises his father and now must accept his position as the heir and Viscount Rowley. Still chafing with childhood resentments, he decides that he will marry the most inappropriate female he can find who accepts his offer, thus destroying his father’s reputation and getting some of his own back.
Madelyn Swann is an actress, supporting herself in a scandalous profession because she has no other choice. The disgrace of her birth brought her mother low, and she’s also got several chips on her shoulder, and does want her own chance at revenge. She’s also aware of the need to find a ‘protector’ who will allow her to exist if she exits the stage, but not leave her struggling. An unusual request from Lady Milford, requesting she meet the newly title Viscount.
These two arrive with their own agendas, and Nathan, while charming initially, is quite dismissive of his prospective bride: he needs her to accomplish his plans, and she’s done nothing to deserve his short-shrift. HE offered the contract, he set the terms, and she is simply following along with both. There is a solid attraction between the two – and while their ‘public’ faces are solid in the acting their parts, particularly with Maddy’s acting contrary to her rather refined nature as she steps into the role of crass, loud-mouthed and grasping actress, their personal alone time shows more of her true character which intrigues and amuses Nathan.
A touch of mystery, a bit of action and a revelation that tests their new bond bring these two to the point where only honesty and the connection that binds them can bring us to a conclusion, but it is touch and go as to whether that will mean a happy ever after. Engaging and intriguing, Wilde’s writing is a pleasure as we skip through the scenarios facing the couple on their way to the end. A wonderfully written story that brings a new twist to the usual, and shows that appearances and professions do not always ring true.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.