Review – Wayward One by Lorelie Brown

Wayward One Cover Image
Publisher: Samhain
Publish Date: Feb 5th
How I got this book: ARC from the author

He’ll protect her with every vicious bone in his body.

During her ten years at the prestigious Waywroth Academy, Sera Miller clung to a strict code of propriety to shield herself from rumors that she isn’t an orphan at all. She’s a bastard. Now she wishes she had never allowed her friends to talk her into snooping into the mysterious source of her tuition.

Her benefactor isn’t the unknown father she dreamed of one day meeting, but Fletcher Thomas—underworld tycoon, gambling den owner, and a man so dangerously mesmerizing that he could spark the scandal Sera has worked so hard to avoid.

Fletcher is only two steps away from leaving the life of crime he inherited from his father. First he plans to join an aboveboard railroad consortium, then claim the one thing his ill-gotten gains have kept safe all these years—Sera.

With every wicked caress, Sera fights harder to remember society’s rules and reject the painful memories his touch resurrects. Accepting Fletcher’s love means accepting her past—a risk too great for a woman who has always lived in the shadows. No matter how safe she feels in his arms.

Warning: This book contains a do-gooder heroine, an accidentally charming hero with tendencies toward caveman-itis, inappropriate household décor and fabulous sex against a wall.

This blurb came from the author’s website.

According to one version of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a trope is a common or overused theme or device. Common or overused they might be most of us have several we enjoy reading or watching. One of mine happens to be that of the unknown benefactor–provided they aren’t a sleaze-ball but the hero. So when I saw the blurb for Wayward One my inner book heart gave a jump for joy. My inner book heart was even happier when I finished reading because I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Sera and Fletcher had spent most of their lifetimes trying to make up for their past or to change their present so the past would not matter in the future. Sera was hoping that she could find answers to her past which would wipe out the stigma of not knowing who her father was to the girls of polite society. Fletcher wanted to distance himself from his father’s legacy and find legitimacy in polite society, and the final touch would be marrying Sera.

Fletcher was trying to do the right thing. He rescued Sera from a pretty bad life on the streets and set her up to receive an education and polishing fit for any society lady. He also had a plan to become a legitimate member of society but until he could establish a legal base for his income he couldn’t completely separate himself from the underworld. Fletcher was so incredibly patient and loving despite the world he grew up in. He didn’t know how society did things or what a loving relationship looked like but he knew what it should be, and that he would try to get it. Fletcher also tried to keep his part of the underworld as clean as possible but he still had to demonstrate that he was not weak to those around him. Fletcher’s growth was more of understanding the role society’s rules played and how you could be yourself while still appearing to conform. I was most impressed by his dedication to his plan and to Sera. He wanted her in his life but he wanted her happiness even more.

Sera epitomized staunch propriety. The other students at her boarding school were cruel as only girls can be to another girl. In her defense Sera pulled the rules and trapping of society around her so no one could tell from the outside that she did not have a respectable background. After finding out that her unknown benefactor was not her unknown father, and certainly wasn’t a noble man, she was determined to make the best of her education which meant staying away from Fletcher–until she realized that Fletcher was equally determined. I absolutely loved it when Sera turned the tables on him and moved in to uphold her side of their bargain. Sera did have a long way to go emotionally before she was ready to admit that society’s rules didn’t have to go down to her very drops of blood.

Brown did a wonderful job of developing two characters who appeared so very different on the outside and yet fit together so nicely. They both wanted someone to love them unconditionally which, given society at that time, could only come from someone who had a common background. About 80% of the way in, I had to tweet that Brown was trying to rip my heart out. I felt so bad for both Fletcher and Sera as they struggled to deal with what they had, what they thought they should have, and how it should be expressed. Without spoiling anything, I think Brown provided a very satisfactory groveling scene.

Sera and Fletcher were wonderful to read. Their interactions with each other and the supporting characters were very telling about who they were on the inside. They also had some truly lovely chemistry together. It was very enjoyable to have my favorite underused trope, in an historical, with unusual characters and a great groveling scene. I did figure out who the bad guy was rather early on but Brown included some other enjoyable twists that I did not expect. Overall I enjoyed reading Wayward One. I hope that Brown provides stories for Sera’s two girlfriends because they are rather unconventional themselves.

I give Wayward One an A-

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