In Scandal They Wed
Once Upon a Wedding Night
Wicked Nights With a Lover

Wicked In Your Arms
by Sophie Jordan
(Avon, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-006-203299-7
Sometimes fairy tales have princes looking for their princess and most of those times, the Prince is charming and the Princess is deserving of his love. Jordan has written a bit of a twist of that dream: our Prince is often rude and arrogant and our Princess is an illegitimate girl from Wales who worked as a game master of a neighboring estate. Wicked In Your Arms has humor, angst and most of all, a nice romance.

Prince Sevastian Maksimi from Maldania is in London looking for an heiress to marry and have his children. As the second son, he never anticipated marrying for anything but for love. Yet when his brother was killed in the long civil war in his country, he knows he has no choice now but to marry a woman who is young enough to have many children and who will satisfy his grandfather.

Sev is a man who has seen more than he thought he would. He and his army finally crushed the rebels, but not soon enough to save his people from suffering. Their coffers are almost empty so money is a prime consideration in his quest for marriage. He has enlisted his impoverished cousin Malcolm to help him. Malcomís side of the family was banished when Malcolm was just a baby. He is more than willing to ride his cousin the Princeís coattails to re-establish himself in the ton following his fatherís gambling left them in near poverty.

Malcolm has recommended several woman to Sev and has even warned him away from a few. One of those few is Grier Hadley, a fiery independent woman of twenty-eight who is in her first year of the ton. She was raised in Wales by her mother and stepfather. Her real father is Jack Hadley, a man who deserted her mother shortly after Grierís birth and who has just reconnected with his daughters. He is rich and has bestowed a huge dowry on his three daughters. Maurgerite is married and married well. Now it is time to focus on Grier so her half-sister Cleo can be set up next.

Growing up in Wales allowed Grier to be her own person. Her stepfather allowed her to ride like a boy, wear trousers, hunt and generally help him run his estates. She had a male friend named Trevis growing up and she always assumed they would marry. But after stringing her along, Trevis announced that she was good enough for a mistress but he would be looking for someone better for a wife. Grier turned down his offer and went off with Jack to meet a husband.

Sev and Grier donít exactly hit it off immediately. Grier overhears Sev telling Malcolm that he would never stoop so low as to marry one of the Hadley girls due to their lack of blueblood. She takes exception and ends up dumping her lemonade on his head. Of course, they find each other more than attractive and use their sarcasm to mask their true thoughts. Their non-courtship progresses nicely thanks to a house party that placed them in proximity for several weeks. After a couple of stolen kisses and then some heaving panting in a moment of pure lust, they start to realize that they are not just attracted but are in lust. As they fight that, they also slowly start to build a friendship.

The tale moved slowly through the middle and for this, it is difficult to give it a higher rating. There were times that I felt the two acted childishly, but they did redeem themselves later. The barriers to their love story near the end seemed to come out of the blue and thus, were not very satisfying. But the overall love story was fun at times, silly at times, hot at times and even a bit boring at times. Grier and Sev had their moments when they were unlikable. Luckily their sense of honor and willingness to see things in perspective kept them from acting more than just a little stupid.

Wicked In Your Arms is not the best fairy tale with a Prince and his princess. But it is ultimately a satisfying story that had me smiling at the end and enjoying their happy ever after.

--Shirley Lyons

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