Saturday, 8 January 2011
#70 (#7) - Slightly Wicked ~ Mary Balogh
This shouldn't have been called "Slightly" Wicked, far from it ............. Completely Depraved Wanton might have been a better title to describe what Miss Judith Law got up to early on in the book.
She has had to leave home (probably for good) to live with her wealthy Aunt Effingham due to the excesses of her selfish young Brother, Branwell. Of the 4 sisters, it was her who volunteered to go. In actual fact, she knew that in all probability she would be acting as unpaid servant, and treated shabbily, as was so often the cases in those days.
With very little money, and travelling on the stage, there is an accident and it overturns. A heroic stranger (Ralf Bedard) offers to take her on to the next inn, as help would be many hours away. She accepts, but somewhere along the way she loses all sense and involves herself in one reckless night of passion, thus also losing her virtue and reputation. At least she will have something to dream about now to carry her through the dreary days as a companion.
He wants her to go away with him for a time, but she comes to her senses whilst he is off looking for a carriage to take them on, and runs away. Eventually making her way to her Aunt's home, Harewood Grange just in time for a large houseparty.
A big shock, however, is in store for her as one man of the party, Lord Rannulf Bedwyn arrives to woo her cousin. The very same Ralf Bedard who had bedded her just days before.
He makes honourable and dis-honourable advances to her, so does Aunt Effingham's oily step-son, but she holds firm against them. But scandal rocks the household when she is accused of stealing a vast quantity of jewels. The only thing she can think of to do is run .... but Rannulf pursues her to help here clear her name.
Is it possible that love can grow out of a something that started off slightly wicked?
I think as the last one in the Slightly series that needed reading there were marvellously layered examples of a hero and heroine. It was thoroughly enjoyable, and a highly recommended 4.5 ***** Star read. As it was some time ago I read the story of Wulfic, Duke of Bewcastle and his Christine, I think I will go back at some point very soon and re-read it. Actually, I think that I will miss this series a lot.