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Wicked, My Love

Wicked, My Love, March 2015
Wicked Little Secrets #2
by Susanna Ives

Sourcebooks Casablanca
Featuring: Isabella St. Vincent; Lord Randall
386 pages
ISBN: 1402283601
EAN: 9781402283604
Kindle: B00ORXKT1G
Paperback / e-Book
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"WICKED, MY LOVE is a book that will make your heart sing!"

Fresh Fiction Review

Wicked, My Love
Susanna Ives

Reviewed by Monique Daoust
Posted June 19, 2015

Romance Historical

Because of their respective fathers' friendship as well as partners in a bank, Randall and Isabella had been friends of a sort since childhood. Randall teased Isabella mercilessly while she couldn't, resist showing off her much superior intellect. Randall, the son of an earl, has always been the golden boy while Isabella, a merchant's daughter, is ungainly, clumsy, and bespectacled; she seemed destined for spinsterhood even at an early age. Isabella is a financial genius but a fashion disaster with unmanageable hair, and Randall, the politician, still eclipses the sun with his smile. After her father died, Isabella inherited her share in the family bank and made it prosper until a most unpleasant event occurred, and Randall and Isabella are forced to set their differences aside and work towards the same goal.

WICKED, MY LOVE made me feel as if I had died and gone to book heaven! What a fun, fabulous book! Randall is charisma personified and poor Isabella is his social antithesis, however they are comfortable with each other, because they know each other so well; they do not have to pretend. Randall and Isabella are such engaging characters, as are all the players in WICKED, MY LOVE; even secondary characters are fabulous, down to Milton the cat. Isabella is a splendid heroine: she's selfless, resourceful, brilliant she's a rock; but she is lonely, as is Randall who, in spite of his adoring horde, is not entirely the persona he projects. Through their madcap adventures, Randall and Isabella come to know the other as much more than the perceptions they had retained from their childhood.

In WICKED, MY LOVE Susanna Ives strikes a perfect balance of tender romance and suspenseful adventures in a story that moves along speedily, with ingenious plot twists. The characters are multi-faceted and very appealing, character development is superb, the dialogues are witty, and some quaint euphemisms for various body parts most amusing. Let's not forget Ms. Ives' glorious, gorgeous, luminous, splendid prose. WICKED, MY LOVE is sheer joy and happiness!

Learn more about Wicked, My Love

SUMMARY

A smooth-talking rogue and a dowdy financial genius Handsome, silver-tongued politician Lord Randall doesn't get along with his bank partner, the financially brilliant but hopelessly frumpish Isabella St. Vincent. Ever since she was his childhood nemesis, he's tried- and failed-to get the better of her.

Make a perfectly wicked combination When both Randall's political career and their mutual bank interests are threatened by scandal, he has to admit he needs Isabella's help. They set off on a madcap scheme to set matters right. With her wits and his charm, what could possibly go wrong? Only a volatile mutual attraction that's catching them completely off guard...

Excerpt

Prologue

1827

Nine-year-old Viscount Randall gazed toward Lyme’s coast but didn’t see where the glistening water met the vast sky. He was too lost in a vivid daydream of being all grown-up, wearing the black robes of the British prime minister, and delivering a blistering piece of oratorical brilliance to Parliament about why perfectly reasonable boys shouldn’t be forced to spend their summer holidays with jingle-brained girls.

“You know when your dog rubs against me it’s because he wants to make babies,” said Isabella St. Vincent, the most jingled-brained girl of them all, interrupting his musings.

The two children picnicked on a large rock as their fathers roamed about the cliffs, searching for ancient sea creatures. Their papas were new and fast friends, but the offspring were not so bonded, as evidenced by the line of seaweed dividing Randall’s side of the rock from hers.

“All male species have the barbaric need to rub against females,” she continued as she spread strawberry preserves on her biscuit.

She was always blurting out odd things. For instance, yesterday, when he had been concentrating hard on cheating in a game of whist in hopes of finally beating her, she had piped up, “Do you know the interest of the Bank of England rose by a half a percentage?” Or last night, when she caught him in the corridor as he was trying to sneak a hedgehog into her room in revenge for losing every card game to her, including the ones he cheated at. “I’m going to purchase canal stocks instead of consuls with my pin money because at my young age, I can afford greater investment risks,” she’d said, shockingly oblivious to the squirming, prickly rodent under his coat.

Despite being exactly one week younger than he was, she towered over him by a good six inches. Her legs were too long for her flat torso. An enormous head bobbled atop her neck. Her pale skin contrasted with her thick, wiry black hair, which shot out in all directions. And if that wasn’t peculiar enough, she gazed at the world through lenses so thick that astronomers could spot new planets with them, but she needed them just to see her own hands. Hence, he took great glee in hiding them from her.

“You’re so stupid.” He licked fluffy orange cream icing from a slice of cake. “Everyone knows babies come when a woman marries a man, and she lies in bed at night, thinking about yellow daffodils and pink lilies. Then God puts a baby in her belly.” He used an exaggerated patronizing tone befitting a brilliant, powerful viscount destined for prime ministership—even if “viscount” was only a courtesy title. Meanwhile, Isabella was merely a scary, retired merchant’s daughter whom no one would ever want to marry. And, after all, a female’s sole purpose in life was to get married and have children.

“No, you cabbage-headed dolt,” she retorted. “Cousin Judith told me! She said girls shouldn’t be ignorant about the matters of life.” Isabella’s Irish mother had died, so Cousin Judith was her companion. Randall’s mama claimed that Judith was one of those “unnatural sorts” who supported something terrible called “rights of women.” He didn’t understand the specifics, except that it would destroy the very fabric of civilized society. He would certainly abolish it when he was prime minister.

“Judith said that for a woman to produce children, she, unfortunately, requires a man.” Isabella’s gray eyes grew into huge round circles behind her spectacles. “That he, being of simple, base nature and mind, becomes excited at the mere glimpse of a woman’s naked body.”

He was about to interject that she was wrong again—girls were never right—but stopped, intrigued by the naked part. Nudity, passing gas, and burping were his favorite subjects.

“Anyway, a man has a penis,” she said. “It’s a puny, silly-looking thing that dangles between his limbs.”

He gazed down at the tiny bulge in his trousers. He had never considered his little friend silly.

“When a man sees the bare flesh of a woman, it becomes engorged,” she said. “And he behaves like a primitive ape and wants to insert it into the woman’s sacred vagina. My cousin said that was the passage between a woman’s legs that leads to the holy chamber of her womb.”

“The what?” Where was this holy chamber? He was suddenly overcome with wild curiosity to see one of these sacred vaginas.

“Judith said the man then moves back and forth in an excited, animalistic fashion for approximately ten seconds, until he reaches an excited state called orgasm. Then he ejaculates his seed into the woman’s bodily temple, thus making a baby.”

His dreams of future political power, the shimmering ocean, fluffy vanilla-orange icing, and a prank on Isabella involving a dead, stinking fish all seemed unimportant. He gazed at his crotch and then her lap—the most brilliant idea he ever conceived lighting up his brain. “I’ll show you my penis if you show me your vagina.” He flashed his best why-aren’t-you-just-an- adorable-little-thing smile, which, when coupled with his blond hair and angelic, bright blue eyes, charmed his nannies into giving him anything he wanted. However, his cherubic looks and charm didn’t work on arctic-hearted Isabella.

“You idiot!” She flicked a spoonful of preserves at his face.

“You abnormal, cracked, freakish girl!” he cried. “I only play with you because my father makes me.” He smeared her spectacles with icing. In retaliation, she grabbed her jar of lemonade and doused him.

When their fathers and nurses found them, she was atop the young viscount, now slathered in jam, icing, mustard, and sticky lemonade, pummeling him with her little fists.

Mr. St. Vincent yanked his daughter up.

“She just hit me for no reason,” Randall wailed, adopting his poor-innocent-me sad eyes. “I didn’t do anything to her.”

“Young lady, you do not hit boys,” her father admonished. “Especially fine young viscounts. You’ve embarrassed me again.”

“I’m sorry, Papa,” Isabella cried, bereft under her father’s hard gaze. Humiliation wafted from her ungainly body and Randall felt a pang of sympathy, but it didn’t diminish the joy of knowing she had gotten in trouble and he hadn’t.

The Earl of Hazelwood placed a large hand on the back of Randall’s neck and gave his son a shake. “Son, we didn’t find any old sea creatures, but Mr. St. Vincent has come up with a brilliant idea to help our tenants and provide a dependable monthly income.” He turned to his friend. “We are starting the Bank of Lord Hazelwood. Mr. St. Vincent and I will be the major shareholders and we will add another board member from the village.”

Even as a small child, Randall had an uneasy, gnawing feeling in his gut about this business venture that none of Mr. St. Vincent’s strange terms, such as financial stabilization, wealth building, or reliable means for tenant borrowing and lending, could dissuade. He was never going to get rid of that rotten Isabella.

***

Through the years, he and she remained like two hostile countries in an uneasy truce; a lemonade-throwing, cake- splatting war could break out at any moment. Randall would indeed follow his path to political fame, winning a seat in Parliament after receiving a Bachelor of Arts from St. John’s College, Cambridge. He basked in the adoration of London society as the Tory golden boy. To support Randall’s London lifestyle, the Earl of Hazelwood signed over a large amount of the bank’s now quite profitable shares to his son.

He came home from Parliament when he was twenty-three to witness Isabella standing stoic and haunted with no black veil to hide her pale face from the frigid January air as they lowered her father into the frozen earth. Having no husband, she inherited her father’s share in the bank and began to help run it. The two enemies’ lives would be hopelessly entwined through the institution born that fateful day in Lyme, when Randall learned how babies were made.

For the next five years, bank matters rolled along smoothly. Then the board secretary passed away unexpectedly, leaving his portion to his young bachelor nephew, Mr. Anthony Powers.

That’s when all manner of hell broke loose.


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