27 June, 2013
Review: Lord of Wicked Intentions by Lorraine Heath
Heath is working with a problematic trope in that the hero (Rafe) buys the heroine (Evelyn) at an auction. (Spoiler alert - he's not secretly a reformer.) Evelyn is believable as a highly sheltered daughter of privilege who is unable to understand that her world changed overnight. It takes her quite a while to get with the program. Rafe is just plain crazy yet he's far more credible than he was in the earlier Lost Lords books. This is a kid who has been traumatized by circumstances very similar to Evelyn's. Both of them lost their father in one breath and found their entire world altered in the next. Where Evelyn's brother auctions her off without her knowledge, Rafe's brothers sell him without his consent. (This somewhat mitigates that Rafe's actions. In his view he's offering Evelyn more of a shot than he got, making him the good guy. In the reader's view he's telling himself pretty lies about his actions. But again, dude is crazy.) I liked the way Heath presented Rafe and Evelyn. It would be unrealistic for a woman in Evelyn's situation to have more options than the distasteful ones Rafe explains to her. Certainly Rafe could have escorted her to any number of charity homes but then we'd have a different book. So Rafe shows Evelyn her only currency is her body and offers to pay an insanely high price for it. Evelyn realizes he's right and makes her own bed to lie in. she gets her Pretty Woman and they work toward HEA.
Overall, Lord of Wicked Intentions is the best of my least favorite Heath series. However, like the rest of The Lost Lords Lord of Wicked Intentions repeatedly pulls the WTF card. There are errors of time and place that threw me out of the story repeatedly. Early on Rafe examine a wide selection of ornate molded chocolates. That's great, but molded chocolate is late Victorian and this book is not. He could've bought rolled truffles, I suppose, but Heath explains them in a way that strongly indicates molds. Rafe takes Evelyn slumming so she can react with horror at the wretched lives of the underclass. Nobody wants to be the underclass, not even them. Wretched things do happen when you add lack of options with lack of resources. It's still pretty obnoxious to walk Evelyn through it like a cautionary zoo exhibit. Rafe claims to process a million pounds a night at his gaming house. (I don't feel like doing math, so here's an excellent article on Crockford to explain how ludicrous this number is. Just know the guy would be turning over more than 4 billion a month at that rate.) The heroine runs away for obscure heroine reasons and takes shelter with the hero's estranged family. Because of course their desire to se him happy means they've befriended this unknown quantity and placed her needs above his. (That's the kind of family they are.) It's full of things that require a veritable bungee cord of disbelief. I can't leap off a bridge that has the hero divested of all his belongings and scrubbed naked at ten then has him in adulthood stroking a coin he's held onto since the day of his father's death. (Where did he hide it during the strip and scrub?) Toward the end our hero proves his love by administering a beat down to someone who wronged the heroine at the beginning of the book. He assumed a woman being auctioned off for sex was a whore, we must pummel him now. Because love. And he wasn't the winning bid. And reasons. I don't even know.
I closed the book feeling tired of Heath writing in this era. She's had some great stories to tell but Lost Lords feels like she's more than ready to move on. So am I. Hopefully her next outing finds her back in form because I don't think we've got more than one date left in us. There was enough here to make me come back, but not enough for me to fall in love.