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Monday, December 31, 2007:
"Just Wicked Enough" by Lorraine Heath - review

Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (August 28, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0061129704
ISBN-13: 978-0061129704

Desperate for riches, penniless Michael Tremayne, Marquess of Falconridge, is willing to auction away his only possession of any value--his title--to the highest bidding American father. But Kate Rose was the last daughter he had in mind to marry. The willful and headstrong Kate requires from marriage the one thing Michael is unable to give--powerful, unending love..

Kate refuses to give into her husband's sensual demands until he has earned her love. Michael is not one to back down from a challenge, but neither does he believe in playing by the rules. While he is unfamiliar with love, he is extremely intimate with passion. He is determined to convince Kate that one can substitute for the other. And what better way to convince her than by patiently and skillfully seducing her?

I've never read anything by Lorraine Heath before, but I saw a great "A" quickie review over at Jodi's blog, and it sounded like something I'd want to read, so one one of my numerous trips to the bookstore, I finally picked it up.

I'll admit when I first started reading it, I didn't care much for Michael or Kate. Michael was cold, and a bit desperate. Kate was spoiled, a bit too demanding, and too stubborn when it comes to getting what she wants. But as Ms. Heath peels away their layers and I got to know them, I found myself absorbed in their story.

Michael is just desperate enough to swallow his pride and put himself on the bidding block in order to gain a fortune. "Won" by American banker James Rose, Michael is content to marry his older, beautiful daughter Jenny, but finds out it is Kate, the younger, more intriguing sister, he shall be joined to in matrimony. A little wary but resigned to his fate, Michael weds the girl. To him, this marriage is a business arrangement, nothing more, and he will approach it as such.

Kate is stumped when she finds out Michael has asked for her hand in marriage, claiming an attachment she was unaware of. But to please her family, though grudgingly, she agrees to the marriage, determined that he will not claim his husbandly rights until he earns her love. Let the games begin.

At first, Michael and Kate have no idea how to deal with each other. Michael finds it rather humiliating to discuss his financial woes with his new wife, though she insists if she is to pay them on his behalf. He has no idea how to win her love, never having experienced the emotion, and he isn't happy about being denied his right to bed her. As for Kate, she cannot understand how this stranger is the man who wished to wed her, and she has some conditions of her own if she is going to loosen her purse strings to pay his debts. The two start out their marriage on a rather unhappy note.

But slowly, very slowly, details are revealed which explain why each of them are the way they are. Kate is still heartbroken, having given her heart to another man, and Michael has a secret he hasn't shared with anyone, one that fills him with heartache of his own. One thing they share is a powerful attraction, though Michael is unaware of just how much Kate is actually attracted to him personally. Michael isn't used to having anyone thinking of him, caring for him; it's just a foreign experience that he doesn't even consider the possibility from his own wife. And Kate realizes that Michael is not a man of poetry, but a man who speaks through his actions rather than with words. Maybe he doesn't know what Kate's favorite color is, but there are other things, more important details, that make Michael special, and Kate is finally starting to understand that. But when secrets are revealed, will their marriage be able to survive the truth?

As I said, it was hard for me to warm to Michael and Kate in the beginning, but gradually I found myself getting caught up in their romance. I liked how the story was laid out, revealed in stages, and it became more interesting as I continued reading. I loved that Kate was quite smart, and how men such as her father had no problem allowing her to be in control of her money because she actually knew what to do with it. I loved how Michael started out trying to please his wife; at first because he felt obligated, but soon thereafter, because he truly wanted to make her happy, even doing things he wouldn't normally do because it did please her, and that pleased him. They end up hurting each other, in different ways, but then they start to fall in love, and it was lovely and poignant. Jodi was right, it is a sweet and sexy read. I think I just might have to read more books by Lorraine Heath.

Rating: ***** out of *****

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  1. I need to move this towards the top of Mt. TBR ~ I've had it for awhile now, and was so excited to get it, and then nothing. It's collecting dust.

    Thanks for the great review. I hope to read this soon!

  2. Great review, Stacy, as usual.

    I'll have to add this one to my list. Are you still reading THE SPYMASTER'S LADY?

  3. Hey Dev, I think you'd really enjoy it. I liked Jodi's super quickie review enough to buy it, and it worked for me.

    MK, yep, still reading "Spymaster's Lady". What about you?

  4. I just finished an old Sharon and Tom Curtis called Sunshine and Shadows. Couldn't be more different from The Windflower. I'm pondering on what's next. I have Laura Lee Guhrke's newest, I may go with that. Not sure.

    Happy New Year, doll! I've had such fun with you this year.

  5. I, and a few other readers, have this real"upset" on with Lorraine Heath. If you're new to her, then you probably won't be bothered by it like many of us who read her 'before'. I had (in italics if I knew how to do the them)been reading her since her very first book came out in 1994 - Sweet Lullabye. She wrote Westerns that were so wonderful, so poignant, so heartbreaking they honestly could make you cry. I looked forward to her books back then more than any other author as I knew I would be guaranteed something truly special. But then *sad heavy sigh* she began writing for Avon where after a certain date, Avon decided they wouldn't publish any more Westerns. So that meant no more Westerns from Lorraine Heath. I tried a few of her 'set in England' books and while yes, they were still very good, they somehow lacked that poignancy, that something extra that she used to have. I think part of it is she is from Texas herself and her real, TRUE voice should be in what she knows so well. I finally gave her up, knowing as long as her setting was England, and she was writing for Avon, I wouldn't see the like of her previous books again. I know that she is more well known now writing for Avon; probably has much better sales and all that, but if you really want something special, something unique, something that will make you cry and then rejoice, her Westerns are the books to read. The best ones in particular - Sweet Lullaby, Parting Gifts, Always to Remember (heck - even her titles were a whole lot better in her pre-Avon days)
    So even though she still may be very good, I don't plan on reading anything new by her since I know what she's capable of - what she once wrote - and it breaks my heart that this truly gifted writer of Westerns isn't writing them anymore.

  6. Ah, Kristie, thank you for explaining that. I thought she wrote westerns, but didn't remember since I'd never read her stuff before. I admit I'm not a big fan of westerns, but my major thing is that I love emotional stories, and that sounds like what she used to write. Worth checking into, I think.

  7. I LOVED this book! This was one of those stories that I just never wanted to end. *sigh*

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