TOO WICKED TO KISS
Author: Erica Ridley ISBN: 9781420109931 3/2010 HISTORICAL Publisher: KENSINGTON ZEBRA
RRAH's THOUGHTS AND PONDERINGS:
TOO WICKED TO KISS is a Gothic romance with a dash of the paranormal. Evangeline can see the future, or the past, simply by touching someone. She has no real choice in the matter much of the time, and often it leaves her feeling dizzy and head-achy. She learned from her mother, who also suffered from the gift, to keep it hidden (especially from the ton) because what people don't understand they'll try to exploit. Or demean. Or in someway, make her life miserable.
Gavin isn't really supernatural at all, except how quickly he can make people flee his presence. That's more to do with his reputation (parent killer) and demeanor (just shy of murderous on good days) than any power on his part, however. Yet his home is the perfect setting for a Gothic romance. Filled with dark corridors, secret passageways, and an extended family with so many skeletons in the closet you'd mistake them for their own mausoleum, it's no wonder a murder is committed.
Evangeline is a mix of innocent miss and worldly temptress, because through her gift she has unfortunately been witness to some people's very private thoughts. Gavin hates people. It's pretty much as simple as that. He tolerates his family, but he has no illusions as to how they feel about him. The two of them together makes for interesting banter. Evangeline is both repelled by the fact she can't glean a thing from him and mesmerized by his male sensuality. Gavin doesn't trust Evangeline, which is fine; she doesn't much trust him either, quite frankly, but he can't help being drawn to her.
Despite their fiery attraction, this is a rather chaste romance novel. Other than some heavy make out scenes, they don't do anything that is irreparable until close to the end. This is more of an emotional romance as Evangeline tackles her demons (her abusive, perverted, wastrel of a stepfather, for one), and Gavin comes to grips with the fact that he created his own Hell by being a jerk.
I liked that Ridley didn't have them instantly trust one another, despite their attraction for each other. They both act quite shady, even if they have good reason, and lust shouldn't cloud them to the other's faults. Once the murderer is apprehended, a new threat emerges; but at this point, one can guess the outcome.
The secondary plots weave in and out of the main two plot points quite well, as Gavin slowly finds redemption and Evangeline slowly begins to trust. Evangeline's friend Susan is being given her own novel, as it turns out, which pleases me greatly. I liked Susan, despite her somewhat superficial ways, and have high hopes that she can get away from her mother's conniving, manipulative, and spiteful ways quickly in her own book (due out in 2011).
In the end, this was a fun, mysterious, Gothic romance that kept me guessing as to the identity of the killer and his/her motivations to the very end.