Monday, January 7, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: "The Importance of Being Wicked" -Bartenders Need Foreplay Too

The Importance of Being Wicked Author: Victoria Alexander
"Bartenders Need Foreplay Too" by Nakeesha J. Seneb

Victoria Alexander has a great grasp of prose in her historical romance, "The Importance of Being Wicked." However the exposition left me feeling like an overworked bartender. You know the stereotype: someone gets drunk at a bar and winds up telling their whole life story to the bartender who won't remember any of the details. That's how I felt while reading the Prologue, which introduced Lord Stillwell, and Chapter One, which introduced Lady Garrett.

The purpose of an Exposition is to describe how the main characters got into the conflict, or catalyst, which they currently find themselves in. In my opinion, special attention should be paid to the word "currently." Backstory does not always (if ever) mean your character's whole life story. Readers and viewers meet your character in this moment when a particular problem has them in its clutches. Reading or hearing too far into the past can be overwhelming in the first couple of pages.

The Prologue sets up the catalyst that brings these two together. That catalyst is that Lord Stillwell's homestead has sustained major damage from a fire and he'll be in need of an architectural firm. I gleaned that Stillwell was devastated but hopeful as a result of this catastrophe, and that he was the responsible type and up to the challenge of the repair efforts. This story is written in 3rd POV, staying close to Stillwell. In the prologue, Stillwell's cousin Gray is introduced. A lot of writing focused on Gray, and Stillwell and Gray seemed very similar. So much that I often forgot who was speaking and had to reread. The two men talked about a lot of characters while out surveying the damage; a lot of characters who we had yet to encounter. Add that to a male lead and a male support who were very similar and it became overwhelming for me.

In Chapter One we meet the heroine, Lady Garrett, while she's at lunch with her sister who is prattling on as Lady Garrett details her entire backstory, her secrets, and her future motivations in internal monologue. Its very interesting that Lady Garrett is secretly a business women in a man's world. Its even more interesting that her prattling sister wants a divorce and Lady Garrett sanctions something so scandalous. But I had already lost interest by the time we learn all this near the end of Chapter One. There was no room left for foreplay or finding out anything new because Lady Garrett told me her whole life story and future endeavors, including hinting at her willingness to be seduced by the Hero. Even though the "cherry" hadn't been popped, as a reader I knew it was loose and that released a lot of potential dramatic tension.

I decided to give the story until the Lord and Lady met. I didn't have to wait long because that happens at the top of Chapter Two. Yet when these two characters came face to face, they read to me like two totally different people. Lady Garrett came off cold and distant "reminiscent of a governess that said, far louder than words, that this was a woman not to be trifled with," and Lord Stillwell turned his devastated, responsible eyes from his ruined property and was fixing her with a charming smile that labeled him a rake. Perhaps if the work had started with Chapter Two and I could have discovered these two and their backstory in action I would have maintained my buzz instead of acquiring a hangover.

ARC courtesy of

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