My Wicked Marquess by Gaelen Foley
Little Miss Sunshine-and-Light goes to the ghetto to help adorably needy children. Max, the dark-haired and goateed (cuz that's sexy--seriously, if Johnny Depp can't pull it off, it shouldn't be done) lord of something-or-other lurks across the street in a brothel, ignoring a prostitute who's throwing herself at him while watching Miss S&L because that's how he likes to stalk his bitches. Actually, haha, it's not like that at all--you see, he is merely in a competition with every other male in the country, but most particularly his friends in a super-secret spy organization, to get married; and Miss Implausibly Nice and Beautiful is one of the candidates. So he's spying on her to make sure they'll suit. You see, completely logical!
Then of course the debutante gets into trouble, and Max pretends to be drunk to rescue her from a group of street gang ruffians (which, as everyone knows, are the most dangerous kind of ruffians). She is naturally repulsed by the fact that he's intoxicated and he just came out of a brothel; but nevertheless, as soon as she lays eyes on him, her loins light a-fire! It's because of his "raw masculinity," you see. As he fights his way through an entire gang of street thugs (for the lulz), she drives away to save herself. But she valiantly notifies other people that a man is being attacked as soon as she is far from danger. What heroism! Max gets the warm fuzzies when he finds out, and decides then and there that he will make this paragon of female virtue his wife (even though he won't admit that's what he's decided because, I guess, that would ruin the fun).
Using his super-spy skillz, Max finds out Miss Perfect is going to a ball the next night, and finagles an invite. Yet he still sneaks into the ball anyway, because that's the spy's life, baby! As he oils his way through the ballroom in a cartoonish imitation of B-movie vampire, he runs across Lord Albert (? I think that's his name), a childhood acquaintance. Max hates Albert. In fact, one might almost say his hatred is of the kind that can only come from... unrequited love? Sparks fly as the two meet and it is obvious they struggle with a long-held mutual attraction. Yet Albert continues to reject him. So Max persists in his pursuit of Albert's former fiance, Miss Sweetness and Light.
Um, actually I might have made that last part up because by then I was wishing I was reading another book. But either way, Max attempts to woo Miss Gracious, who says things like pish-posh and whose "bosoms" light on fire when he was talks to her (seriously! first her loins now her bosoms?! that guy should carry a fire extinguisher).
The bosoms did me in. That and the fact that I wanted to toss the heroine off a balcony.
This book is pretty bizarre. Imagine if Gaelen Foley tried to write in the style of Julia Quinn. Of course, she's not JQ, so she sucks at it. Ensue much eye rolling and sighs of impatience on my part. Admittedly, part of my frustration with this book had to do with the fact that I expect more from Foley. If someone else had written this novel--well, I would have still thought it was totally dumb, but I wouldn't have spent the entire time going, "WTF?!?"
Then again, perhaps Foley is simply phoning it in on this one. Either way, I hope she rethinks her strategy on her next book, because this one was so bad, I wasn't able to finish it. It was ridiculous from the beginning and I couldn't understand what anyone would see in either of the main characters. When it wasn't being dumb, it was either cheesy or boring. I never thought I'd see Gaelen Foley use the fired-loins-at-first-sight trope, but she does here. Blech. Oh well.
If you liked this book more than I did, please let me know. I would love to hear that it has some redeeming qualities.
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