The Wicked Lover

Written by Julia Ross
Review by Suzanne J. Sprague

Robert Sinclair Dovenby is London’s favorite rogue. His reputation with the ladies is well known. When his current paramour finds two women, one of whom is dressed as a boy, in his quarters, she has every reason to publicly dump him by burning his clothes in the street. Now Robert is out of clothes, a lover, and may lose favor with the ton. As punishment to those who caused the trouble, he insists that Sylvie Georgiana, Countess of Montevrain, disguised as a young man, become his secretary. Sylvie is pleased, because she is under orders from Lord Yvenshire to discover information that will destroy Dovenby. The attraction between the two is undeniable but forbidden, because of Sylvie’s ruse. Eventually her adventurous spirit combined with Dove’s sensual desire to please lead in the direction of all good romance novels.

Ross’s depiction of 18th century London allows us to see erotic and usually off-limits territory from a woman’s point of view. Sylvie’s disguise lets her experience new freedoms as she accompanies Dove to seedy taverns at unwholesome hours of the night. When Dove exposes one of his many secrets, Sylvie responds to this revelation with interest rather than revulsion, leading to sometimes silly sex talk. Overall, however, the dialog is clever and engaging.

This action-packed Georgian romance has a level of suspense regarding the characters’ pasts that will keep the pages turning to the very tidy end.