I picked up What The Groom Wants at my library and fell in love with the novel.
By day Wendy Drew, an inhabitant of regency London, owns a dress shop for the haut ton. By night she finds herself still paying off her brother’s gambling debts after months of working in Deamon Damon’s Gambling Hell. While she is the main protagonist in the book she has a definitive dark side, one you can feel her wrestle with as the book progresses. She definitely has the spirit of a Borgia as is exclaimed by one of the ton after Wendy’s particularly vicious revenge on Deamon Damon! Her spunk and grit give the book an immense amount of depth.
On the first reading I found Radley Lyncott flat, but after the second read I found him to have quite a bit of substance. I think this is because Wendy Drew and Deamon Damon are such domineering characters. Radley, by contrast arrives on shore after his ship is attacked by pirates determined to pursue a courtship with Wendy, only to be waylaid by her impending eviction and his sudden Dukedom. My interpretation of what Lee has written with Radley’s character shows her skill at subtlety. Radley, known as the “Prince” of he and Wendy’s childhood neighborhood, left for sea on the urging of Wendy after his sister had been brutally attacked by Deamon Damon. He was raised knowing he was a poor due to love and the grandson of a duke. He is definitely human and a sailor at heart. I would have like the character to have been deeper. Radley is definitely human and a sailor at heart. He is enamored by his cousins radiant beauty but knows the only woman for him is Wendy.
The show stealer is Deamon Damon. It is rare that the antagonist is so fascinating in a romance novella. He is definitely a psychopath and sociopath, he takes pleasure in hurting people without their consent. Damon orchestrates in successive order the downfall and ruination of Wendy Drew. He “ruined” Radley’s sister, by marking her as Damon’s whore, by carving his initials into her breast. At one point he has Wendy cowed and submissive, through blackmail and intimidation, as he holds “court” in his Hell. There is a dark quality to the man that seduces Wendy. She marries Damon and the plot thickens. The confusion he brings to the story by tempting her darker nature is what make the story so intriguing.
Plot wise Lee has this tale in the bag. There are twists and turns that surprised me as well as floored me. The ending was spectacular!
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