ARC-review: A Little Bit Wild by Victoria Dahl

HE IS NOT WHAT SHE HAD IN MIND.
Jude Bertrand is not an excellent dancer. Nor does he wear the most fashionable coats. But when Marissa York’s brother approaches him, desperate to preserve Marissa’s tenuous reputation, Jude does prove heroic enough to offer to marry the girl. In fact, the union should more than make up for his lack of social graces – and his own scandalous past…

BUT MINDS CHANGE…

Marissa knows that betrothal to the son of a duke – even one as raw and masculine as Jude – will save her from ruin, but that doesn’t mean she’s happy about it. Soon, though, she finds that Jude has a surprisingly gentle touch – and plans to use it to persuade Marissa that their wedding day cannot come soon enough…





Title: A Little Bit Wild
Author: Victoria Dahl
Series: Victoria Dahl said for now to call this “the York series”, book 1
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Kensington Publishing (Zebra)
Year of release: 2010, August 3
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 329 pages
Source: Received for ARC-review from the author
First line: The man above Marissa York groaned loudly, his breath shuddering over her cheek.
Memorable Scenes:
– Marissa and Jude in the garden talking about a book Marissa has read and has lent to Jude and J goading her into touching his legs > hot and disarming scene and the start of Marissa’s change of heart where Jude is concerned.
– Marissa confessing to her brothers who she’s been intimate with > humiliating for Marissa but endearing and funny at the same time

Marissa York is a bit thoughtless and bored with her life. She’s a wild child, fearless and a bit lonely. I wasn’t liking Marissa much at first. She is the first heroine I’ve read by Victoria Dahl who has managed to even annoy me a bit, she wasn’t very likeable and I was really hoping this would change during the book and be redeemed. Sometimes she comes across as a bit spoiled, shallow and her family (brothers) seems to indulge her whims a bit too much but they do try to make her see the error of her ways.

She tries to come across as calm, composed and put together but underneath there’s something simmering. She wants to break free from her shell, deep within she’s wild, passionate and impulsive but she tries to keep it contained and when she can’t anymore she does impulsive things or says things without thinking first, it’s like she reaches a boiling point and it all has to come out. This was an aspect of her character that I did like and I am happy to say that in my eyes she was sufficiently redeemed at the end of the book.

Jude Bertrand is the bastard but acknowledged son of a duke and a French courtesan. He is not the typical gentleman as he is rough and ungracious in appearance but he’s also sly seducer who is wicked and silver-tongued. I did like Jude as the hero. He’s very frank and outspoken and he handles Marissa very well. He doesn’t seem fazed by her awkward feelings toward him or her open dislike and disapproval of him and I liked that a lot in his character. Normally I favor Victoria Dahl’s female characters but in this book, it was Jude who stole the show for me

The secondary characters, though not many, were a nice addition to the romance and the plot. I loved their parts in the book and especially Aidan York, one of Marissa’s brothers captured my attention and the little background info on him was very intriguing. But I also liked the little bit of drama queen behavior that Marissa’s mother displayed every time she appeared on the pages and I was amused by Edward’s attempts to stay calm and cool amidst all the mayhem. I understand from Victoria Dahl’s website that A LITTLE BIT WILD is the first in a new series and I hope there will be future stories on Aidan, Edward and cousin Harry.

As it took Marissa a while to warm up to Jude, it also took me a few chapters, well more than a few chapters, about 7 or 8 chapters, to warm up to this historical romance by Victoria Dahl. I adore her contemporary work and A LITTLE BIT WILD is the first historical romance I’ve read by her and I am definitely going to read her other historicals too as I have them all on the shelves but if I have to choose based on A LITTLE BIT WILD between her contemporary work and her historical work, I absolutely choose her contemporaries.

I did get a bit tired of the constant repeating of Jude’s inelegance, unattractiveness and largeness. Yes, I understand that he’s not a pretty elegant man but the constant repeating of it got bothersome at one point as by page 60 it was mentioned on almost every 2 to 3 pages. I understand that attention has to be drawn to it, because it’s part of the romance plot and his interaction with Marissa but it just gets annoying when it’s repeated so many times.

About half way through the book, just before it seemed to fizzle out, as the pace was slowing down a bit, nothing seemed to be happing, the blackmail plot was introduced.
The blackmail plot did surprise me with its outcome. I was speculating as to whom the blackmailer could be and I was completely off in all my guesses and though I really liked the idea of this plot I felt the motive for the blackmail was bit farfetched.

I did love the way Victoria Dahl let Jude court Marissa, It was mainly a verbal courtship, very slowly, very seductive, one baby step at a time and it was very nice to see Marissa melting and falling for Jude little by little, to see how she became fascinating and intrigued by him. Really well done and it was one of the things that I consider a big plus of the book.

The humor that I love so much in Victoria Dahl’s contemporary work is also present in this book too, it’s definitely there but I do think it’s a little bit subtler and I suspect it has to do with the time-period and fitting into the historical vibe. There’s humor in the dialogues, in the interactions between the family members, in the drama queen antics of Marissa’s mother, in the way Marissa handles herself sometimes, the way she thinks about Jude, the way Jude talks to Marissa and in all the little humoristic subtle banter between them. And it all put a smile on my face while reading. Another thing I liked were the love scenes. Though there aren’t many and they were not explicit, they weren’t sedated either as they were definitely sensual, and very well written.

I loved the ending of this book. Around chapter 20-21 Marissa realizes she’s actually fallen in love with Jude and wants to keep him in her life. Those last few chapters of the book were very emotional. I would have loved this intensity in the whole book because it packed a pretty good emotional punch at the end and made me tear up a bit earning this book an extra half point.

A LITTLE BIT WILD is an unconventional historical romance with against-the-grain characters and though I liked the pace, the plot, the love scenes and the humor it remains just a good read for me. It didn’t blow me away, it wasn’t very intense but it was an enjoyable, light and fun historical read with a sometimes annoying heroine, a wonderful hero and a perfect ending.

Favorite Quote:
Jude and Marissa discussing her indiscretion with Mr. White:
“He wasn’t rough?”
“Oh no! He was only…unimpressive.” (…) “I mean–“
“Unimpressive eh? Well, that is a tragedy, but perhaps a welcome one for a lady’s loss of innocence.”
How so?”
(…)
“It can be painful, and I would hate to think of you in pain.”
“Well, there was a bit of discomfort, but I rather think that was due to him squishing me.” She snuck a glance at Jude. “Now that I think of it, you look unfortunately heavy.”
(…) I can assure you I’ve not yet squished a lady. Not even once.”

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