In the Garden of Disgrace by Cynthia Wicklund

  • Title: In the Garden of DisgraceIn the Garden of Disgrace by Cynthia Wicklund
  • Author: Cynthia Wicklund
  • Series: Book 1 in The Garden series
  • Genre(s): Historical
  • Publisher: Self-Published, October 2010
  • Purchase: Amazon, 99¢
  • Tropes: Reformed Rake, Ruined Virgin, I Hate You Except When We Kiss
  • Quick blurb: Lord Wicked accidentally drags along friend’s 17-year-old sister as he’s fleeing from a duel. Shit hits fan, yada, yada, yada.
  • Quick snark: Scandal (+) eight years (-) all the juicy bits = boring hero and obnoxious heroine.
  • Grade: DNF

Only 99¢, and a fun blurb like this – what’s not to like, right?

17-year-old Lady Jillian Fitzgerald sneaks out to spy on a duel, believing she is merely guilty of an indiscretion. But when the duel takes a deadly turn and Jillian becomes an unwilling passenger in the fleeing carriage of the infamous “Lord Wicked,” she knows what began as a lark has become a disaster. One night of bad judgment and her life is changed forever.

Not so much. I gave up on this about a third of the way through because the heroine annoyed the hell out of me, and all I could foresee was more endless chapters of “I Hate You Except When We Kiss.”

I had high hopes – a unique and intriguing premise – and the story started out great. Unfortunately, the initial drama was over much too soon, and suddenly we’re thrown forward eight years and the characters have changed completely.

If I’m reading a “reformed rake” story, I want to SEE “Lord Wicked” change over time and EARN his redemption. Telling the reader “it’s eight years later and he’s really really sorry” just doesn’t cut it. We miss out completely on the restless, conflicted wickedness and get him tirelessly patient, self-sacrificial and boring.

Likewise, I would have been much more likely to have compassion and respect for the heroine if I could have SEEN the consequences of the initial drama. Instead, we leave Jillian as a 17-year-old caught up in the aftermath of a scandalous duel and never really understand what turned her into a rude, self-centered bitch. She refuses to acknowledge her own behavior in the fiasco and blames everyone else around her.

I know the author was trying for an “independent and feisty” heroine, but Jillian veered off that narrow path straight into “obnoxious and unlikeable.”

A reformed rake needs someone worth reforming for, and Jillian – at least in the first part of the book – definitely isn’t it. And Lord Wicked was already reformed by the time he got to her, so what’s the point?

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