Series: Maiden Lane #1
Genres: Historical, Romance
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A man controlled by his desires…
Infamous for his wild, sensual needs, Lazarus Huntington, Lord Caire, is searching for a savage killer in St. Giles, London’s most notorious slum. Widowed Temperance Dews knows St. Giles like the back of her hand— she’s spent a lifetime caring for its inhabitants at the foundling home her family established. Now that home is at risk.
A woman haunted by her past…
Caire makes a simple offer—in return for Temperance’s help navigating the perilous alleys of St. Giles, he will introduce her to London’s high society so that she can find a benefactor for the home. But Temperance may not be the innocent she seems, and what begins as cold calculation soon falls prey to a passion that neither can control—one that may well destroy them both.
A bargain neither could refuse.
Wicked Intentions lacked wickedness for me.
Thoughts on Wicked Intentions
Since I started reading (re: going on a bender of) historical romances last year, I’ve had a solid, consistent run of 4-star (ESR: 8) books, with a few outliers on either side. I was beginning to think I’d lost some of my critical edge—not necessarily a bad thing, just surprising—and was going to enjoy every historical romance I read.
Then I read Wicked Intentions.
Guys, I didn’t like the characters. Caire supposedly felt nothing, but angered quickly and seemed to enjoy provoking Temperance by saying crude and shocking things to her. Because he wanted to unleash her “passion.” Talking about sex acts to her and then claiming he knows the talk excites her was… unromantic. Confusing.
Normally the passionate heroine who hides her “true” nature and the hero takes it upon himself to show her that passion’s okay and good and delicious trope is cool. I actually like it. And had Caire flirted with Temperance instead of being a jerk, I might have liked it in this book too. But he was jerky and I have no idea why Temperance liked him.
And Caire was physically pained when people touched him. Like, he couldn’t bear being touched by another human. Naturally, the more in love he falls with Temperance (only he doesn’t know it’s love at the time because, as you recall, he feels nothing), the more he craves her touch. I… don’t understand. Like, what would cause a person to hurt, physically, when someone touched him? It seemed like a psychological issue, but at the same time… I was just all, “Whut?” I can buy a lot of implausible shit, but it has to have a believable explanation.
Caire seemed less loving and more obsessed and possessive, but whatever. Let’s talk about his sexual kinks. The book starts with another character telling Temperance about how awful Caire is and how he’s known for his “odd” sexual deviance. Instantly, I think, “Oh, cool. What kind of kink are we going to get?” Because it has to be pretty terrible for people to, like, want to run away from him when they see him on the street.
When Caire takes Temperance to a whorehouse (because they were investigating a murder), his kink is revealed when he forces Temperance to watch what’s going on in another room (while thrusting his erection into her backside [don’t worry, given her hidden passionate nature, she likes this]). Which is… he likes to tie women up, make them wear a hood, and give the woman pleasure.
Because heaven forbid a man should want to put his mouth down there on a woman. Listen, I get this was uncommon for the time, but the way they talked about it, you’d think he was fucking animals or small children.
And then there’s Temperance. I know people were Puritanical and shunned sex, but that’s not the kind of message I want my historical romance heroine to be spouting. Sex was bad and she was bad because she craved sex and desired to do non-procreating activities like taking a man’s cock in her mouth. Yet she does it without hesitation or recrimination later in the book.
Make up your mind about who you are, woman. She also resisted getting attached to the children of her home and I get not wanting to risk sadness, but you run a children’s home. Can you be distant around children? Won’t they sense that?She denied everything she felt until it was nearly too late. Then she wouldn’t shut up about her feelings.
And toward the end of the book, she’d go running to Caire every time there was some kind of problem. Why WHY would you run off, leaving your charges and duties to others, because you “had a problem,” which, by the way, Caire never solved. Every problem in Temperance’s life (mostly family or money related) seemed to be an easy plot device to get Temperance in Caire’s bed.
The emotional transformation that both characters go through baffles me.
If you’re wondering why I kept reading, it was because I wanted to see who the murderer was (got that answer) and because I wanted to see how other characters who got word time (Temperance’s sister Silence, the Lady Hero and the “ghost” of St. Giles) were central to the book (same order: don’t know, next heroine, don’t know). I’m curious enough to read on to the next book because I have to know if it’s really this bad or it’s just this couple.
And the way Temperance and Caire act, you’d think passion and sex make a person lose all your normal facilities. The blurb should have been my first clue. A passion that could destroy them both! Since when is passion so fatalistic and destructive? Most of the book seemed to preach “sex is bad” all the while leading both main characters into having it. Which is just confusing, but somewhat fitting for how I felt about this book.