Reader’s Edyn

I always felt like I could do something more than just read. Finally, I have found both a creative outlet and a chance to do something meaningful with my reading. This blog was created in appreciation of and tribute to all of the authors who have brought me joy through their books. These reviews are my way of giving back to authors and providing recognition for the hard work that each one completes every day!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Review (ARC): My Wicked Little Lies (Sinful Family Secrtes, Book 2) by Victoria Alexander

Title: My Wicked Little Lies
          (Sinful Family Secrets, Book 2)
Author: Victoria Alexander
Release Date: January 31, 2012
Publisher: Kensington Zebra
Category: Historical Romance
Type: Kindle/Paperback/Audio


Book Blurb:

Evelyn Hadley-Attwater has it all — a genteel Victorian life replete with loving husband, ball gowns and elegant parties. No one, including the man she married, suspects that she was once “Eve,” a spy for England’s most enigmatic intelligence agency. Summoned for one final assignment, the excitement of her former life and memories of her mysterious, flirtatious boss “Sir” prove too tempting...

Adrian Hadley-Attwater is a respectable, dignified gentleman. But even the most proper gentlemen have secrets of their own. Secrets from the rest of the world, from their families, from their wives. Secrets that have a price. Now, as a veil of secrecy frays, a tantalizing game of cat and mouse will test the bounds of unfailing love...

Book Excerpt:

And hadn’t he wondered who was really the love of her life? A dashing, dangerous man she had never met face to face or the steady, reliable, respectable, dull lord she had married? Sir or Adrian? It scarcely mattered that they were one and the same. This might well be his chance to find out. Fate had presented him with the prefect opportunity, and he would be a fool to pass it up.

“I shall make you a bargain, Max.” The plan formulating in his head even as he said the words.

“A bargain.” Max’s brow rose. “I’m not sure I like the sound of that. As I recall, your bargains always left me with more work.”

Adrian grinned and retook his seat. “You have become a most suspicious man.”

“It goes with the position.” His eyes narrowed. “And this bargain?”

“I shall make myself available to you in whatever manner you may need my services.”

Max stared. “You’re coming back to the department?”

Adrian shook his head. “In an advisory capacity only.” He paused. “For now.”

“And later?”

“We shall see.”

Suspicion shone on Max’s face. “There’s more, isn’t there?”

“There usually is in a bargain.”

Max considered him carefully. “Good God, you have that look on your face.”

“What look?”

“That look that says you have come up with something terrifying but brilliant.”

Adrian grinned.

“I’m not going to like it, though, am I?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Adrian said in a casual manner. “I suppose that depends on how much of a bureaucrat you’ve become.”

“More than I would appear, I would say.” Max sighed. “And less than I should. What do you have in mind?”

“It’s, well, a personal mission, as it were.”

“Oh, that sounds good.”

“I should like to resurrect Sir. Only in dealings with Evelyn, mind you,” Adrian added.

“You want to become Sir again?” Max said slowly. “But only with your wife.”

Adrian nodded.

Max studied him for a long moment. “Dare I ask why?”

“As I said, it’s personal.”

“Not if you’re using me department, it’s not.”

“It used to be my department.”

“Past tense.” He paused. “However, I do have a certain amount of discretion. Aside from the questions surrounding the file, it’s an oddly slow period. Won’t last long, no doubt.” He leaned forward in his chair and met his friend’s gaze. “What did you have in mind?”

“I simply want to renew Sir’s correspondence with Eve.” Adrian shrugged. “There’s little more than that.”

“I see,” Max said thoughtfully.

Annoyance surged through Adrian. “What, exactly, do you see?”

“I see a man who isn’t at all certain of his wife’s affections.”

“Rubbish.” Adrian scoffed. “I trust Evelyn implicitly.”

“I never mentioned that.”

Adrian’s jaw clenched. “I extrapolated.”

Photo courtesy
I loved this picture and thought you all needed to be included in the viewing pleasure!

Dialogue Highlight:

“You know, you quite swept me off my feet the very first time we danced together.”

“I recall it was much later that I swept you off your feet.” Desire flashed in his eyes and her knees weakened. Good Lord, what the man still did to her after two years of marriage.

“Yes, well, indeed you did.” She swallowed. “But the first dance was when I fell in love with you.”

“Did you?” His brows drew together. “How very disappointing.”

“Disappointing?” She arched a brow. “How is that disappointing?”

“I have always thought you fell in love with me the first time you laid eyes on me.” He shook his head in a sorrowful manner. “I thought it was love at first sight.”

She bit back a grin. “Darling, if I were to confess to that, it would go directly to your head. And you are far too arrogant already.”

“I prefer the word confident.”

“Yes, I know,” she said primly. “Precisely why I chose arrogant.”

“To keep me from becoming to confident?” He guided her through a perfect turn. But then they did dance perfectly together, and had from the very beginning. As though they were made one for the other. As indeed, they were.

“Too arrogant.” She laughed. “Although I once heard it said that two of the attributes most desirable in a man are a little arrogance and the willingness to laugh.”

“I think I laugh exceptionally well.” He expertly maneuvered her around another couple. “When we return home, I should be happy to demonstrate some of my other skills.”

“Oh, I am a fortunate woman.”

“Yes, you are.” His tone was matter-of-fact but his eyes twinkled. “No doubt the envy of every woman here.”

“Well, this is a very nice gown.”

He laughed.

“Which reminds me, I’m not at all sure I want you to dance with out hostess.”

“Ah, well, I can understand that.”

“Can you?”

“Indeed.” He nodded. “Her gown is quite lovely as well. The latest fashion from France, I believe.”

“Your sisters and I have you well trained. But I am not so shallow as to prefer you not dance with a lady because of her gown.” She glanced at Lady Dunwell over Adrian’s shoulder. “I don’t like the way she looks at you. As if you were dessert and she is considering how very tasty you might be.”

“I am exceptionally tasty.”

“Yes, you are, but I am unwilling to share my dessert.”

“Nor does this dessert wish to be shared.” He grinned. “But Beryl Dunwell looks that way at every man.”

“No, she doesn’t,” Evelyn said firmly. “You are the one who evaded her clutches. And she is not a woman to give up easily.”

“Nonsense, she only turned her attention to me when Richard proved uninterested.”

“Your sisters have told me she pursued you for several years.”

“Unsuccessfully,” he said firmly. “And then I met you and I was lost. Besides that was two years ago.” He shrugged as best he could without a misstep. “She is now married to Dunwell, whose ambition suits her own.”

“You are a better catch than Dunwell,” she said.

“Yes, I am.”

“You do realize there is such thing as too much confidence?”

He chuckled.


I’d like to begin this review by explaining why I chose both the excerpt and the dialogue highlight. The excerpt was chosen because it is the catalyst within the story from which there is no return. Once Adrian sets his plans in motion, he has little choice but to see them through. Adrian and Evelyn are madly in love with one another, but both having come from rather exciting backgrounds, they each begin to feel a bit restless and consequently start questioning why they had chosen to marry each other. The excerpt is a terrific example of Adrian’s war within himself. Part of him knows that Evie loves him without a doubt and that they were made for another. But the other part, the part harboring that tiny bit of doubt, is what ultimately propels him to put Evie’s love and loyalty to the test. But there exists an unfair advantage. Adrian has not told Evie about his past life, as it were, yet he knows all about hers. He was, after all, the face-less superior she reported to and had cultivated an innocent flirtation with. But was that flirtation so innocent? And there in lies Adrian’s problem. Does Evie truly love him, or does she still hold feelings for  … um … him … in her heart. Evie, of course, has no idea Adrian knows anything at all about her past, nor does she realize Adrian’s role in her former life.

The dialogue highlight I chose because it is one of the many fun, flirtatious scenes within the story. While the question of infidelity between the main characters in no laughing matter – and you all know what I mean – we do not, no how, no way, want to see even a hint of anything screwing with the HEA of our characters – Ms. Alexander crafts a wonderfully romantic story that includes mystery, intrigue, and some entertainingly lighthearted humor between the characters. This dialogue highlight showcases the wonderful relationship between husband and wife. Not to mention how much I appreciate the snark and very obvious love between them. It almost makes Adrian’s plans to seduce his own wife that much more ridiculous. How could that kind of sweet banter not be the result of true love?

As my first read from the talented Ms. Alexander, I can say with confidence that I will be returning to her books. I will say that this story was somewhat predictable. We learn Adrian’s identity very early on, so I do not feel that it is a true spoiler, but even with the predictability, I do not feel that such foresight destroyed the story in the least. Had it not been for the snark and witty interactions between the various characters, I may not have been able to make such a claim. I also found myself invested quite a bit with the relationship developments between Max and Celeste. We are not told their entire story, but are provided enough to know that there is, without a doubt, another installment to this series in the making. I am actually ashamed to have just discovered that I have had book 1 in this series on my wish list for the past few months, but did not make the connection until writing this review. You can safely bet that I will be picking that novella up right quick. Another safe bet is that I will buy any further series books without hesitation.

Those of you who love historical romance with a bit of mystery, a whole lot of witty humor, and some smexy scenes that steam up the pages, Ms. Alexander is an excellent choice for your reading pleasure. I look forward to adding a few more of her books to my collection and am interested in finding out if her writing style deviates at all depending on the plot. One thing is for sure: the Sinful Family Secrets series is a definite win for me. My Wicked Little Lies in nothing short of a wicked fun treasure.

(Advance Uncorrected Proof Paperback provided by Kensington for review)

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