When She Was Wicked

Anne Barton
When She Was Wicked
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Release Date
January 2013
Historical Romance


A dressmaker in London's busiest shop, Miss Anabelle Honeycote overhears the ton's steamiest secrets-and (occasionally) uses them to her advantage. It isn't something she's proud of, but the reluctant blackmailer needs the money to care for her gravely ill mother. To make up for her misdeeds, Anabelle keeps to a firm set of rules:

Never request payment from someone who cannot afford it.

Never reveal the secrets of a paying client.

Never enter into any form of social interaction with a client.

Her list keeps her (somewhat) honest-until she encounters Owen Sherbourne, the Duke of Huntford.

Not only does Owen nip Anabelle's extortion plans in the bud, the devilishly handsome Duke soon has the sexy seamstress dreaming of more than silks and satins. With Owen Anabelle enjoys pleasures she never imagined. . . until a scandal from the past resurfaces. Now her rules could mean his family's ruin. Owen's searing kisses carry the promise of passion, but how will he react when Anabelle's most devastating secret is finally revealed?

Book Review by Mary Chen (reviewer)
May 02, 2013   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
82 people found the following review helpful
A stunning debut by Anne Barton, with an original plot and engaging characters that have renovated the unacceptable-statuses trope. Highly recommended for all historical romance lovers.

Anabelle Honeycote is pragmatic and loyal to her family. She will do anything to save her mom and keep food on the table, including resorting to blackmail as her seamstress wages cannot support her mother's medical bills. Granted, her "blackmail rules" are a comical attempt at causing ambiguity in her actions, but it does well to show that she has morals, and really, what's wrong with being a Robin Hood to save her poor family?

It was only due to the sheer stupidity of her first four clients that she wasn't caught, but Owen Sherbourne, the Duke of Huntford, does catch her and makes her a proposition: complete a set of dresses for his sisters or be sent to prison. And so, Anabelle moves into Owen's home and proceeds to prove how much of a Candy character she is.

Overall I greatly enjoyed the story. Anabelle takes on a confidante role to Owen's sisters, and becomes almost motherly to them by the end of the story. Her interactions with Owen are immensely sweet, a complement to their roles as caretakers of the family, and when they are together, all statuses are thrown aside and it's just them, two souls who found something lovely and admirable in each other. The secondary characters are great as well, from Owen's nice sisters (one of whom I hope will get her own book) to Anabelle's sister and mother. They are all quite nice and supportive, so the fulcrum of the book is internal and on Owen and Anabelle, instead of some evil villain hatching murder plots.

The one thing I didn't quite like was how Owen seemed to only accept Anabelle's potential as his duchess after he learns she's the granddaughter of a viscount. I know the realities of the time would not have allowed for such an uneven match between a dressmaker and a duke, but this is a romance story and Owen has already proven himself as a man who does what he wants, so the hesitation between his declaration of feelings and proposal of marriage leaves me annoyed at the man. Regardless, this is a great debut and I look forward to reading Daphne (Anabelle's sister)'s story, as she is such a sweet girl.
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