August 9, 2016
Tall, Dark and Wicked is the second book in Madeline Hunter's Wicked Trilogy and
somehow I lost it in my overloaded Nook. So, after a bit of reorganizing and catching up, I read Lord Ywain Hemingford, aka Ives', story.
Ives is the younger brother of the Duke of Aylesbury from The Wicked Duke. Ives is a barrister and a darn good one at that. While Ives isn't one of those Romanceland heroes who have spied for their country, he has prosecuted numerous people for the government. The problem with that is he's an honest, straight-forward kind of a guy and he doesn't like to see people railroaded. He is disturbed by some of the unethical things the government has done to get confessions. He also knows that there is a case coming which in all probability he will be asked to prosecute. Imagine his surprise when the daughter of his possible future case, Padua Belvoir, shows up on his doorstep asking him to defend her father. All that Padua knows is that Ives is the best barrister in the country and she just knows he will save her father. As much as Padua triggers Ives' Mr. Toad to twitch, he turns her down. Disappointed Padua leaves, Ives should be relieved - right? That should be it - he should be able to dust off his hands and go on from there. He is not able to; he just cannot forget the Padua. Against all common sense and I suspect legal sense, Ives starts snooping into her father's case. The more Ives tries to remain detached, the more he becomes attached. It was fascinating watching Ives struggle against Padua's appeal.
Padua is an interesting heroine - she's a quiet determined woman who has dreams. She wants to go to a university in Italy. Evidently Italy was one of the few countries who allowed women in to get a college education. But now her dreams have been put on hold because she believes her father is innocent. Some readers might wonder why she would even care about him. Her father is one of those Romanceland fathers who have ignored their children through the years. He has treated her as if she is of no importance to him. She has tried for many years to win some kind of affection from him, to no avail. Even when she visits him at Newgate, he is detached; he tells her not to come, to leave him alone. He doesn't speak to anyone about any of the crimes he's been accused of. By the way, he has been accused of counterfeiting and sedition, not crimes that would have any kind of light-weight outcome. While I understood Padua's need to have her father's affection, I keep wondering just how many times must one be kicked in the teeth before one moves on. She is definitely loyal and Ives know she is headed for some major pain as he digs deeper into the case. But still her desire for his love at times was very poignant - I did cheer for her when she finally told him where to get off.
Padua and Ives make a nice couple. But I do have a small quibble with their romance. As with most of Ms. Hunter's stories, the sensual tension is thick, the hero overtly sexual, and the whankee-roo in abundance. In fact, there was so much bedroom, floor, wall, table, chair bouncing that I had to skip a few passages. There's finger-puppet action all over the place. Sometimes it seems to me the only reason these passages are in a book is to demonstrate the variety of positions.
Watching how Ms. Hunter was going to solve Ives' conflict of interest was an interesting process. I'm always delighted when an author is so good they can dig really deep holes for their character and then get them out them - without doing what I call "silly" writing. Both Padua and Ives were intelligent people who fall in love. This is pretty much a character-driven book with just a little bit of mystery thrown in. Overall this was a wonderful addition to a great series by Madeline Hunter and I do recommend reading Tall, Dark and Wicked.
Time/Place: Regency England