Lady Elinor’s Wicked Adventures by Lillian Marek, a Victorian Era Romance taking place in the 1850s, has plenty of action. Perhaps a little too much, but the plot, for the most part, moves along at a fast clip.
Lady Elinor Tremaine is a sweet, but frisky young lady who scorns the restrictions placed on women while being forced to constrain her actions (up to a point) to the parameters allowed by society due to her father’s diplomatic position. Is her behavior wicked or does her curiosity and love of travel lead her into situations where evil might occur?
Luckily, she has her brother, Pip or Philip Tremaine, Viscount Rycote, and his childhood friend, Harry or Harcourt de Vaux, Viscount Tunbury, to look after her, although she is perfectly capable of defending herself. When her mother, Lady Tremaine, decides her father, the Marquess of Penworth, needs to relax and spend some time away from English politics, Elinor finds herself along for the ride with her brother and Harry, who is drafted to facilitate the travel arrangements. The author Marek takes the time in her narrative to describe the sites the characters visit in their trip across the English Channel through France and into Rome. In addition, the political struggle of the battle to unify Italy is highlighted as a central theme when the Tremaines unintentionally become embroiled in the troubles of their Italian host family. Add an architectural dig of Etruscan artifacts, a thief willing to kill, and some romance to achieve the full impact of this novel.
Whereas some novels have too simplistic a plot, this story almost overdoes the action. Perhaps a little editing or combining events would solidify this novel. However, Marek is a master of character development as each player is brought to life. Lord Tremaine remains ever the diplomat with a capable wife who can easily manipulate any situation to her satisfaction. Nobody messes with Lady Tremaine. Their son, Pip, although romantically handsome, is something of a prig due to his insecurities. Pip would rather stay on his estate and be a simple landowner, yet he finds himself in the midst of intrigue. Elinor is as capable as her mother, yet she hasn’t found the right man to marry. Anyone she chooses to wed must show the proper respect of her abilities and refrain from treating her like a dimwitted ninny. Harry, has been in love with Elinor for years, but feels himself unworthy due to his parents’ scandalous behaviors. He believes Elinor deserves someone better. Yet, when Elinor realizes they have an electric connection which can only be love, she decides to find a way to convince Harry to reveal his true feelings. All this in the midst of their adventures. When the two finally culminate their relationship, the sex scenes are sensitive and not too graphic, leaving something to the imagination. Additional characters are equally well defined.
Although the book dragged in a few places, despite all the activity, I enjoyed reading this novel. I hope Marek decides to write additional stories with these same characters, especially involving the debut of Harry’s two younger sisters and their subsequent adventures.
I give this book three and a half stars.
Thank you to Sourcebook (Casablanca) for allowing me to download this title for free in exchange for an honest review.