"When I am honest, I am unfailingly so." - Helena Hadley-Attwater, Dowager Countess of Waterston
Victoria Alexander's latest book, MY WICKED LITTLE LIES, is a delightfully charming addition her `Sinful Family Secrets' series and the wonderful Victorian era world of the--not quite as proper as they think--Hadley-Attwater family. And anyone who likes their historical romance smartly blended with a delicious mix of passion, excitement, thrills, espionage, and mystery, topped with scintillating dialogue and a healthy dose of humor will be highly entertained by this book.
The story introduces us to Adrian and Evelyn Hadley-Attwater, the Earl and Countess of Waterston, a couple who have been very happily married for two years. The author then shows us, through the eyes of this very loving hero and heroine, how even the most blissful and content of married couples can still have their fair share of little secrets--whether about past jobs, relationships or minor indiscretions, or simply, private thoughts and pleasant fantasies--that they keep from each other for any number of reasons. And Ms. Alexander's approach to making this revelation is not only creative, exceptionally clever, and vastly amusing, but also quite perceptive and insightful. I can tell you her choice of a married couple as the main characters makes for a very interesting premise and a thoroughly romantic and engaging storyline. And speaking from the perspective of someone who's been married for some length of time, much of it is remarkably realistic and easily conceivable. :)
The chemistry between Adrian and Evelyn as a married couple is wonderfully harmonious, and gratifying to read. They're warmly affectionate, caring, passionate and devoted, and it's patently clear that their love for each other is deep and true and they are meant to be together. This makes it completely understandable as to why they'll go to such--madcap--lengths to save their marriage, all while trying to keep from revealing their little secrets, or admitting each are responsible for imparting `lies of omission' as whole truths. Though they should have known, as Shakespeare said, "in the end truth will out". As the reader witnessing HOW it all plays out, you just can't help but love and cheer for this couple, even as you shake your head while grinning at their somewhat wacky and misguided antics.
I think it's normal within the happiest of marriages for things to pop up occasionally that can cause little, tiny trickles of doubt or uncertainty about a partner's feelings to surface, or allow a bit of angst to creep into our consciousness. Especially when--knowing them so well--your significant other suddenly seems unduly distracted or exhibits strange or unusual behaviors. But it's really the fear of actually losing the person you truly love that can, at times, drive even the most practical or reasonable of us into doing some foolish things or making poor, even irrational choices while trying to prove whether or not their suspicions are unfounded.
Adrian, our thoroughly charismatic and hunky hero, is crazy in love with his wife (deservedly so) and we love him for that. He's ordinarily such a poised, confident, dignified and honorable man, however, when he doubts Evelyn's affections, it's then that we see his insecurities and vulnerabilities exposed; and that, I think, made him even more sweetly appealing. Evelyn is a great heroine as well; she's a strong, intelligent woman with an amiable personality, and a sharp sense of humor. Her love for her husband is steadfast, so her anger and determination to teach him a little lesson for mistrusting her is completely justified, and yet most amusing.
The ex-spies and mystery plotline with the hero and heroine were very well rendered and fit in seamlessly with the overall romance and the lighter comedic elements that Ms. Alexander so adeptly delivers in all of her books. I think Adrian and Evelyn would make perfect lead characters in their own Victorian era secret-agent series or even a `whodunit' type private-investigator series; and I'd love to read about their further adventures as a husband and wife team. And I think Adrian's mother, Lady Helena, the dowager Countess of Waterston would make a nifty addition to their team because she has some wonderful sleuthing skills--at least when it comes to finding out what her children are up to, or tracking down possible mates for them. :)
I also loved all the secondary characters in the story. Not so much the villain, of course, but the rest were all superbly detailed, three-dimensional, and incredibly likable; adding much richness and fun to the story. But I have to admit I loved Lady Beryl Dunwell the most. Beryl is as equally sharp and witty as she is boldly flirtatious and promiscuous. She's a bit of a good-natured floozy who unapologetically flouts propriety and refuses to be bound by "pesky" morals, and who, as it turns out, can also be quite a good and loyal friend. Beryl's such a fresh, colorful and unpredictable character that I'd really like to know even more about her and what happens between her and her husband.
In My Wicked Little Lies, Victoria Alexander expertly brings her characters to life for the total enjoyment of her readers... with intrigue, secrets revealed, confession's made, clandestine affairs exposed, dangers faced, and many sly surprises... This captivating story will play out in your head like a first-rate movie. Highly recommended!
Also recommended: The Perfect Mistress and His Mistress by Christmas by Victoria Alexander