Read an excerpt: here
This is book one of the 'Last Man Standing' series by Victoria Alexander. The premise is simple; a group of four gentleman friends set a wager that one of them will remain unwed the longest whilst the others fall victim to matrimony. The prize is paltry; a mere four shillings (and a good bottle of cognac), but its really the symbolic nature of the bet that entices our gentlemen. Among their ranks, we have the ever-dashing Gideon Pearsall, Viscount Warton. Gideon has been betrayed by 'love' in the past and has been at odds with the concept ever since.
When the beautiful Judith Chester catches his eye at a gathering, his first instinct is that she must be bedded. Judith Chester has been widowed for almost a decade; and in her time, has only dallied with 3 gentleman. Her reputation proceeds her, but she doesn't give the injustice much thought. When Gideon seeks her out after she makes a hasty escape while in attendance at a 'night of entertainments';which can be described as slow, polite torture; Judith doesn't put up pretenses and all but tells him to jump into her bed.
A hot introduction to their 'arrangement', in the form of a 'dinner date' sets up our hero and heroine down a path of undeniable passion. Right off the bat, Judith lays down some 'rules'; pure enjoyment of one anothers company, no affections, and once one is ready to end the arrangement, it will be without recrimination.
The 'rules' last for about 2 chapters and then dilemma starts to brew. Gideon makes Judith feel things she's never felt (even with her husband), and Judith's honorable tendencies and kindness of heart beings to wear down Gideon's resolve. Both fear (and are warned by numerous outsiders) that the speed with which their 'relationship' has taken off are signs that something much more deeper is starting to form. Love scorched Gideon's past with unpleasant memories, and love steadily started to become a buffer for Judith's abusive marriage; it also becomes the catalyst in the defense against the undeniable feelings between the two.
Some blasts from the past threaten the happiness of the two and the ultimate decision must be made. Do you steer clear of the ledge, neither forfeiting your heart nor your pride , or do you do something 'a little bit wicked' and leap head first?
Rating: 3 1/2 Aww's
My Favorite Part of the Book: Is the scene where Judith is having a conversation with 1 of her 3 'past-adventures' and he is warning her that the party she is present at is being attended by all 3 of her 'adventurers'. It was a simple ploy, constructed by the old flame from Gideon's past whom wanted him back. She ends the conversation by impulsively and passion-lessly kissing said gentlemen in thanks for some kind words when Gideon walks in. I love this scene because not only does Gideon keep his cool and ascertains the situation 'isn't as it appears' , he and Judith share one of the hottest scenes in the book. Once again, no billiards for me!
Overall I enjoyed the book. Miss Alexander has a wit and an ability to produce stellar dialogue that can hold together even the most trivial of novels. As I said in my review of another one of her books; 'The Virgin's Secret' , her repartee is sharp; although, in this book it wasn't enough to solidify a higher rating. I am a fan of action and drama and high conflict; so when this book is really centered around inner-conflict; battling ones resolve, and the constant volleying of emotions and thoughts, it grew a bit tedious. I favored the word 'thought-y' earlier and I think that was accurate. It wasn't a smash hit, but with sinfully steaming scenes and always entertaining banter, 'A Little Bit Wicked' has a lot of merit and will bridge you through any rainy day!
*Check out the next book in the 'Last Man Standing' series. In my opinion , the most cynical of the 4 gentlemen; 'What A Lady Wants', Nigel's Story./ My Review of this book can be found: here