by Susanna Ives
Series: Wicked Little Secrets #3
Published on November 1, 2016 by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genres: Adult, Historical Romance, Romance
TAKE ONE MARQUESS: Proper, put-upon, dependable, but concealing a sensitive artist's soul.
ADD ONE BOHEMIAN LADY: Creative, boisterous, unruly, but secretly yearning for a steadfast love, home, and family.
STIR in a sensational serialized story that has society ravenous for each installment.
COMBINE with ambitious guests at an ill-fated house party hosted by a treacherous dowager possessing a poison tongue.
SHAKE until a stuffy marquess and rebellious lady make a shocking discovery: the contents of their hearts are just alike.Take a sip. You'll laugh, you'll swoon, you'll never want this moving Victorian love story to end.
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As the third book I’ve read by Ives (and in the same series, no less), I had a good sense of her writing style. Which I quite enjoyed. Both Wicked Little Secrets and Wicked, My Love were highly entertaining with characters that I found relatable despite the genre (often I don’t really connect with heroines in romances past the reader-book relationship). So I was a bit disappointed with How to Impress a Marquess as it just didn’t quite match the first two in the series with the story, the writing, or the characters.
I think it really began with the characters. Lilith is the “free spirit” who’s being stifled by her guardian Lord Marylewick (George). I already saw where the story was headed from that set-up alone which, while I don’t mind romances being predictable (I’ve come to accept that aspect of the genre), I wished there had been more to it, a spin on the idea.
Throughout the book they’re constantly at odds but also manage to find they’re attracted to each other but don’t want to be. But it all began with a moment during one of Lilith’s “parties” that George claims to dislike where the two end up in a heated discussion that leads to lusty physical contact. Cue insta-love. No real lead-in to it all, just throwing it at you from the very beginning.
I like the writing style. I did in the first two books and it didn’t disappoint on that front with How to Impress a Marquess. But it didn’t make up for the fact that I just never felt these two worked well together.
Oh her own, Lilith is an interesting character. A secret author (of a story that George happens to really enjoy), she lives a dual life. Her conversations with her Muse sprinkled throughout were cute but didn’t really serve any purpose of plot advancement other than to emphasize that she has this secret life that will likely come back to haunt her in some plot twist down the road. George was all pomp, and all about the rules, but always came off as unnaturally stiff as a character. It felt like he was forced onto the page to be this extreme character (much as Lilith is the polar opposite) so that the two could come together and have this big realization that they balance each other out.
I think this book had a lot going on ultimately but it really didn’t go anywhere, if that makes sense. I wanted more of the humor and natural chemistry I felt in the previous books. Instead, I felt that these characters were living through stereotypes and not offering anything new to the world or plot, leaving the romance flat and the story stagnant. I don’t think this will turn be off of Ives’ books entirely but it was disappointing to follow up the previous installments in this series with this one, which just didn’t fit in.