Publish Date: Out now
How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
SOME RULES SIMPLY BEG TO BE BROKEN
A dressmaker in London’s busiest shop, Miss Anabelle Honeycote overhears the ton’s steamiest secrets—and (occasionally) uses them to her advantage. It isn’t something she’s proud of, but the reluctant blackmailer needs the money to care for her gravely ill mother. To make up for her misdeeds, Anabelle keeps to a firm set of rules:
– Never request payment from someone who cannot afford it.
– Never reveal the secrets of a paying client.
– Never enter into any form of social interaction with a client.
Her list keeps her (somewhat) honest—until she encounters Owen Sherbourne, the Duke of Huntford. Not only does Owen nip Anabelle’s extortion plans in the bud, the devilishly handsome Duke soon has the sexy seamstress dreaming of more than silks and satins. With Owen, Anabelle enjoys pleasures she never imagined. . . until a scandal from the past resurfaces. Now her rules could mean his family’s ruin. Owen’s searing kisses carry the promise of passion, but how will he react when Anabelle’s most devastating secret is finally revealed?
This blurb came from the author’s website.
I have read my fair share of historicals but I have never encountered a hero/heroine who was a blackmailer. As a result when I read this blurb and learned that the heroine was a blackmailer, one who had scruples I had to request this book. Overall it turned out to be both an entertaining and a touching read.
Anabelle really was a good person, she was just in a desperate situation. Her mother was really sick and her job as a dressmaker didn’t pay enough for the doctor, medicine, rent, and food so she did what she had to do. However, because Anabelle didn’t want to hurt anyone she stuck to her rules and she kept her word. Then one day she chose the wrong victim and ended up violating her third rule. The bargain that she struck wasn’t exactly in her favor but it was better than having her crimes reported. Throughout the entire story it was evident that Anabelle regretted what she did to survive but she had been unable to come up with an alternative. I will admit that her unrelenting insistence on keeping her word despite the provocation did wear on me after a while but I enjoyed her interaction with Owen and his sisters too much to really complain. I also admired her dedication to her mother and sister.
Owen just flat out loved his sisters. He wanted them happy so he was going to fix the issue of a blackmailer and worry about the rumor later. When he discovered who the blackmailer was he decided to take care of his sisters in more than one way. What was unexpected was how far he went in easing Anabelle’s life without realizing his ulterior motives. However, once he realized what he wanted he was rather persistent. That did bother me because Anabelle had very valid reasons for maintaining the proprieties. I felt that he discounted the potential effects of altering their arrangement with the smugness that only someone who knows their place in life won’t slip can manage.
Anabelle and Owen had a complicated relationship. It started with mistrust and deceit and every time I thought they had gotten over their start something would happen to bring them right back. There were times when I thought Owen was an incredible jack@ss and other times when I thought that Anabelle was a holier-than-thou ninny yet the two of them fit. They both cared for their respective families. It also helped that Owen’s sisters conspired several times to help break down the barriers caused by class status. The mystery behind Owen’s protectiveness towards his sisters while answered for the reader relatively early in the story was still an integral thread as the main characters worked towards their discovery of the answer and the resulting aftermath.
Even with my complicated feelings towards both Anabelle and Owen I ended up liking When She Was Wicked so that my thoughts when I finished reading overall were positive. The teaser of a snippet for the next Honeycote novel was also intriguing.
I give When She Was Wicked a B/B-
Links to purchase