In Scandal They Wed

Once Upon a Wedding Night

Wicked Nights With A Lover by Sophie Jordan
(Avon Books, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0-06-157923-3
Wicked Nights With A Lover starts with a very interesting scenario that I think every woman can relate to, which fired my imagination at the beginning of Sophie Jordan’s new tale.

Marguerite Laurent isn’t your typical turn of the century heroine, she’s the bastard daughter of a businessman named Jack Hadley. She lost her mother fairly young, and then Jack, sight unseen, sent her off to Penwich School for Virtuous Girls, a cold, lonely and helpless girl stuck in a place where no one loved her at all. Now, Marguerite is a grown woman with a job that helps her stay off the streets, she is a sick nurse to the dying. Marguerite finds her calling helping her terminal patients find peace in their last days, although she acknowledges that her life is sadly lacking in other areas.

She has no family, no love interests and no hobbies. She’s hoping that one day, after saving for her nest egg, she will be able to truly live her own life. Marguerite is tending to her most recent patient, a woman who has startlingly taken a turn for the better, when her patient calls for her diviner, Madame Foster, to tell her the future. Madame Foster tells the patient that she will soon die, and after Marguerite confronts her, Madame Foster tells her that she will die just after Christmas. Marguerite is in shock, she’s young and has saved a lot of her dreams for the future, when she will be more secure. Unfortunately, it now looks like Marguerite’s future will be short and sweet, if she believes Madame Foster’s prediction, which she is unsure of until her patient dies right on cue as predicted.

Marguerite decides impulsively to enjoy what time she has left, and what better way to spend her last months than with her first lover, and she knows just who to ask – an old friend named Roger who propositioned her in the past. They’ll journey to someplace hot for a few months, and have an affair.

Marguerite’s plans for her year are set until she’s suddenly called to Jack Hadley’s house to meet her absentee father. She’s not too interested in meeting him until he mentions that she has two sisters. Marguerite’s longing for a family draws her to her father’s house. She briefly meets her two sisters, and finds out that Jack’s motives for the meeting are none too pure, he wants to parade his three bastard girls in front of some gents for advantageous marriages that will elevate his social standing. Marguerite is nonplussed, and gets ready to leave.

Ash Courtland, Jack Hadley’s business partner is waiting in the wings and he abducts Marguerite after confirming that she is one of Jack’s daughters. Ash has spent years building up the business interests that he and Jack share, but his lack of breeding and polish fail to impress the lofty thinking Jack and he’s pissed that Jack won’t even let him court one of his daughters. So, Ash steals away to Scotland with Marguerite, trying to convince her that marriage to a rich scoundrel wouldn’t be so bad along the way.

Wicked Nights With A Lover starts with glorious what if question…what would you do with your life if you knew you had only months to live? Such a question would spur any person into action. Marguerite’s carefully planned life suddenly seems boring instead of cautious, and her impetuous, outlandish decisions after Madame Foster’s dire prediction suddenly seem perfectly right. I was so excited to dive into this book for the first few chapters, the magic of Marguerite’s suddenly free spirit was great and her first meeting with Ash was fun, and sexy. Somehow, after the kidnapping, the chemistry absolutely fizzled for me.

Ash seemed wheedling and weak as he trapped Margurite at every available opportunity and tried to sway her to marry him without being forced. His on and off attraction to Marguerite seemed forced and tedious. The excuses he found for her behavior towards him were ridiculous and I caught myself thinking that he had better be cute or she should just jump out of their moving carriage.

Marguerite was enchanting for the first little while, but once she and Ash were confined to each other’s company, she became hard-edged, mean and edgy. I didn’t like her anymore and I couldn’t believe that Ash still whined to try to make her marry him when she acted like a complete shrew. Yes, of course she had her own secret reasons behind her behavior, but Ash didn’t know them. I did, and I still didn’t like her very much.

Meanwhile, the few momentary meetings with Marguerite and her newly found sisters were an opportunity for character growth that flopped. I’m sure that Marguerite’s two sisters will have their own stories coming right up, but I didn’t learn anything about them that would intrigue me enough to pick them up when they come out.

Wicked Nights With A Lover had a great cover, and a great premise that were ruined by annoying characters and very watered down chemistry. If you would like to borrow this book only to read up to chapter 9, and then imagine your own ending, you have my blessing entirely.

--Amy Wroblewsky

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