Book Review: Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean
Devil will do anything to keep his brother Ewan from violating their agreement to get revenge on their father by ending the line– no heirs. He assures on-the-shelf spinster Felicity Faircloth that he can win her a duke (Ewan), with the idea that he will send a message to Ewan by ruining her before their wedding. But things get complicated when Devil and Felicity fall in love.
Wicked and the Wallflower is my third Sarah MacLean. I’ve read Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (LOVED! So good.) and No Good Duke Goes Unpunished (meh). So I was ready to go either way on this one.
Our hero: Devil (WICKED)
Devil’s origin story, along with his siblings, will be the foundation of the series, but it was a bit overwrought. Our hero, Devil, is the bastard child of a Duke– one of 3 who were born on the same day. The cruel duke put the boys in a kind of Hunger Games situation where the best one was to become his heir (for reasons, he needs an heir). Devil and his brother Whit escaped, becoming crime bosses in the gritty Covent Garden, and their brother Ewan remained behind to inherit the duke’s title. The boys have sworn never to allow the duke to have heirs, to get revenge on their father, but Ewan arrives in town and seems to be seeking a wife. Devil and Whit engineer a plan to prevent Ewan from succeeding, involving…..
Our heroine: Felicity Faircloth (WALLFLOWER)
Our heroine, Felicity, is on the shelf and has been ostracized by her [jerkwad] society friends. Felicity wants to reclaim her place in society rather than abandoning it altogether, and in her attempt to do that she announces that she and Ewan are engaged after things get weird at a ball (where she also meets Devil on the balcony). Devil strings Felicity along with his plan to marry her to Ewan, and as she gets to know Devil she becomes more enamored of him as well as his life in the rookery. Little does she know that Devil is using her as part of his plan to keep his brother from marrying and producing heirs. She is also ignorant of the fact that her family has lost all their money and is counting on her marriage to bring in a fortune. There are a lot of things this woman does not know, but she does know how to pick a lock. For some reason.
Our story: Wicked and the Wallflower
So we have the complex background story of the Bareknuckle Bastards who are the foundation of the series (plus their sister who I haven’t mentioned), we have Felicity’s family’s money problems, Felicity’s society problems, Devil’s plan to submarine Felicity’s engagement to the duke, Devil’s feelings for Felicity, and Devil’s business in the rookery. There is a lot going on in this book, and there is a lot to like but it’s easy to get lost in the bits and pieces. For all of the descriptions of Felicity’s brazenness and Devil’s darkness, they weren’t as well-portrayed as, for example, Calpurnia in Nine Rules. Calpurnia was OVER IT with society after being on the shelf for so long. Felicity is teetering on the edge of society, and although I followed the story of her being pulled deeper into the world of the rookery, I didn’t FEEL IT. This book felt very heavy on descriptions but didn’t manage to dig into the characters’ emotional depths. Maybe the characters’ motivation got lost in the complexity of the storytelling. But overall, Felicity is a strong heroine and Devil is an enticing hero. He is loyal to the people who work for him in the rookery and to his brother and sister. These problems may just arise from being the first in a series, it seems like romance series have to have all the exposition for the series in the first book. I’m a monster and start reading series in the middle with romance, and I’m starting to think I’m on to something because of this first-in-series problem. It’s definitely worth reading, but I’m guessing that the next books will be even better.
3.5 stars for this Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean! I would recommend it as worth reading.
My thanks to Edelweiss and Avon Publishing for providing me an ebook ARC free of charge. My opinions are my own.