Victoria Dahl - A Little Bit Wild
Paperback: 329 pages
Zebra Books published by Kensington Publishing Corp.
Genre: Historical Romance
Main Characters: Jude Bertrand & Marissa York
He Is Not What She Had In Mind.
Jude Bertrand is not an excellent dancer. Nor does he wear the most fashionable coats. But when Marissa York's brother approaches him, desperate to preserve Marissa's tenuous reputation, Jude does prove heroic enough to offer to marry the girl. In fact, the union should more than make up for his lack of social graces-and his own scandalous past...
But Minds Change...
Marissa knows that betrothal to the son of a duke-even one as raw and masculine as Jude-will save her from ruin, but that doesn't mean she's happy about it. Soon, though, she finds that Jude has a surprisingly gentle touch-and plans to use it to persuade Marissa that their wedding day cannot come soon enough...
Although I have several books of Victoria Dahl on my shelf A Little Bit Wild is my first acquaintance with Dahl’s work but it won’t be my last. I had no problem in finishing this story in one sitting, Dahl’s typical style of wit had me flipping the pages and I could not stop. A Little Bit Wild is not your average historical romance novel; it is as the title says a little bit wild and unconventional. Jude and Marissa, the main characters, break every rule the stiff Victorian society has laid on them.
This story takes place in England in 1847 and Dahl literally drops us in the middle of a scandal. Marissa York comes from a respectable, noble family but scandal always seems to find her family. She gets caught red-handed by her brother while making love, her reputation is ruined. There is only one solution to fix her reputation and avoid scandal, Marissa must marry and fast. Only Marissa has no intention of getting married and especially not to the guy who took her virginity. But her brother is relentless, so when Jude Bertrand, a friend of the family and house guest, offers to marry her she has no choice but to agree for the time being. Jude is raw, muscular and anything but graceful, he is everything she is not looking for in a man but she soon finds out that Jude has a very pleasant touch…
Jude Bertrand, born out of wedlock, is the acknowledged son of a duke; he has always liked Marissa York, even though she never really noticed him. He has often seen her eyes linger on elegant young men he still considers to be boys not men. He is also the only one who noticed that Marissa is full of passion and she desperately tries to contain it. She is different than the other ladies and her streak of wildness turns him on, he plans to use it to his advantage and show Marissa that she really doesn’t want to spend the rest of her life with a graceful young lad but that she needs a real man like him who knows exactly what she needs…
This story is even-paced and character-driven. It is a journey of soul searching, a heroine who claims to be a proper lady but is really a bit wicked and an illegitimate son who wants to be truly accepted for the man he really is and not just as the acknowledged son of a duke. Marissa is headstrong, feisty and outspoken but also a bit spoiled, shallow and naïf. She likes to flirt and seduce men to kiss her; she does not realize that she is restless and bored with her life as it is. Jude is honorable, loyal and strong. He is coarse-featured, broad shouldered with a wide face that looks hewn from stone. He has masculine features and an unrelenting height; he looks more like a blacksmith than a gentleman. He likes to provoke Marissa into very unladylike conversations.
I love the way their relationship unfolds, their witty, bold and naughty conversations vibrate from the pages. They really are perfectly fitted for one another. Their emotions and passion spice up the story even further. There are not many secondary characters in this story, but the ones that caught my eye were Marissa’s brothers. Also a bit unconventional, they are known for their bad temper, their bickering and the way Dahl describes the occurrings in the York's family home reminded me by fits and starts of a slapstick, really hilarious. But the brothers mean well and will do anything to protect their little sister and family name. Edward, who is the head of the family obviously runs his family with a not so firm hand and Aidan is the tortured one, now he is the one I would love to see in his own story.
The plot thickens a bit when the family gets blackmailed and Marissa’s escapades are about to become public knowledge. Although you can see the blackmail coming from a mile away the blackmailer comes from an unexpected corner. There were also a few things that irked me about this story, although Marissa is a very adventurous and untamable lady, she really gets a lot of freedom. In those days ladies were not left alone with a man without a chaperone, but Marissa has done so several times, she pretty much goes her own way, Jude even spent time in her room. For such a smart lady she does not really seem to care for her reputation. At some point she even drinks brandy, but a lady was not allowed to drink hard liquor in those days. These things were “not done” at that time and a respectable family like Marissa’s would not have allowed that. Also modesty and propriety demanded in those days that a pregnant woman of the gentry who is already showing remained confined, she certainly would not have openly received three men no matter how urgent the matter was. So even though Jude, Marissa and the York family are a bit unconventional for those days these things irked me a bit.
But I did enjoy A Little Bit Wild very much, it is a refreshing story. The dialogues sparkle with wit and both Marissa as Jude are penned down so vividly that they jump of the pages. A Little Bit Wild is refreshingly different and wickedly witty read.