Miss Zoë Armstrong is beautiful, charming, rich—and utterly unmarriageable. So, while she may be the ton’s most sparkling diamond, her choice of husbands looks more like a list of London’s most unsavory fortune hunters. Since a true-love marriage seems impossible, Zoë has accepted—no, embraced—her role as society’s most incomparable flirt and mischief-maker . . . until in one reckless, vulnerable moment, her future is shattered.
Stuart Rowland, the brooding Marquess of Mercer, has been part of Zoë’s extended family since she was a child. As dark and cynical as Zoë is lively, Mercer has always known they would be the worst possible match . . . until his scapegrace brother Robert does the unthinkable, and winds up betrothed to Zoë. Now, secluded on Mercer’s vast estate to escape a looming scandal and the ton’s prying eyes, Zoë and Mercer may find that a dark obsession has become a tempestuous passion that can no longer be denied . . .
The follow up to Tempted All Night, Wicked All Day features our last heroine’s feisty sidekick. Born on the wrong side of the blanket, Zoe has taken pleasure in scandalizing the Ton. But one night of innocent pleasure sets off a chain of events that threatens everything Zoe holds dear.
This is a more traditional hist-ro in comparison to Tempted All Night, but nonetheless thrilling and enjoyable. I actually liked this one better–it moved quicker and I really felt invested in the characters. Towards the end, I found my heart wrenched by the inevitable climax.
Zoe is reckless because of oceans of hurt and rejection. Her actions are motivated by these emotional scars, so that what we experience is a real character arc by completion of the novel.
Carlyle digs deep into the emotional lives of all the characters in this book, not only the hero and heroine. It is nice when supporting characters have flesh–there is no lazy, cardboard cutout creations here. She invests enough stuff on the bones of her story that it really packs a powerful and satisfying conclusion.
The hero is also burdened by his own demons and struggles, not the least of which is a long, unrequited love for Zoe. This is perhaps the most romantic and sweet part of the storytelling. An otherwise infallible man has his one weakness–a reckless girl he once tried to shelter and guide.
Maybe that is also the only weakness of the story, too. Immature and given over to selfishness Zoe is flawed while she is fun and it is hard to understand exactly what our hero finds so appealing about her. But then again, the magic and mystery of romance itself which keeps us turning the page is never truly revealed.
I recommend this one highly, but do caution about explicit sexual content.