Wicked Angel, by Julia London

>> Saturday, June 14, 2003

For some reason, I violently disliked Julia London's Wicked Angel (excerpt). I usually finish every book, but for the second time in a couple of weeks, I decided not to finish one.

She raced across the pasture, vaulted a fence, and landed, stunned and breathless, on top of the most handsome man she had ever seen. The bemused stranger stayed to capture the fancy of the brood of orphaned children in her charge, then stole Lauren Hill's heart with a searing kiss as he left. Lauren couldn't tell him she was a widowed countess fallen on hard times. She tried to forget him--until she saw him again at a London ball. The man who haunted her dreams was a duke, out of her class...and he was pledged to another woman.

The ton is ablaze with talk of the ravishing Bavarian countess. Stunned, Alexander Christian, Duke of Sutherland, recognizes Lauren as the country girl who's captured his heart. Duty has forced him to pledge himself to another, to take his proper place in society and in Parliament. He wants one night with his blue-eyed enchantress, but will he be able to walk away from her again, or will he risk it all to be with the woman who fires his blood and makes him think of a . . . Wicked Angel.

I tried, I swear! I read some 150 pages before I chucked it, but I just couldn't go on. I'd already set it down about 50 pages before, but I had convinced myself I had to finish it, but enough! I have too many more books waiting for me. Plus, there's another trader I know wants this one, and she always trades me for books on my Wish List, so I don't feel as guilty as I'd normally feel!

What made me hate this so much? Well, again, I found a book that pushed all my hot buttons. Many of the problems I had would have been bearable alone, but the accumulation was too much. Case in point, the virgin widow. I'd rather not have to read about this character, but I've been known to like some (see, My Lady's Pleasure, or Wicked Widow). Here, it irritated me to no end.

Oh, and I hated Lauren. She's so good! Stupid kind of good, of course, the type of woman who gives up her inheritance because she doesn't deserve it, when she really does need it. And of course, she keeps sacrificing herself "for the children". Literally, at one point she's thinking about how her uncle had practically sold her into marriage the first time, and she thinks how "she had done it for Rosewood and for the children". These children, BTW, are orphans.

Look, I admire people who are kind and good, but there is a fine line between being good and being a perpetual victim and martyr, and Lauren goes way across this line. And the worst part is that all this is just bad characterization on the part of the author, she wants her readers to love Lauren, so she has to make her just perfect. It's overkill, basically.

Apart from all this, everything felt so clichéd! (Lauren's parents, of course, had died in a carriage accident. Just one example.) The only original-ish element was having the hero be engaged to someone else, and this was something I hated. To me, a guy who's engaged and still thinks nothing of pursuing another woman is the worst kind of skunk. And the operative words here are "thinks nothing", ok?

A mess. Just that, a mess.

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