For Winfield Elliott, Viscount Stillwell, finding a prospective bride always seemed easy. Perhaps too easy. With three broken engagements to his name, Win is the subject of endless gossip. Yet his current mission is quite noble: to hire a company to repair his family’s fire-damaged country house. Nothing disreputable in that—until the firm’s representative turns out to be a very desirable widow.
Lady Miranda Garrett expected a man of Win’s reputation to be flirtatious, even charming. But the awkward truth is that she finds him thoroughly irresistible. While Miranda resides at Millworth to oversee the work, Win occupies her days, her dreams…and soon, her bed. For the first time, the wicked Win has fallen in love. And what began as a scandalous proposition may yet become a very different proposal…
March 1887: Winfield Elliott, Viscount Stillwell stands and watches as his beloved family home, Fairborough Hall burns. Win keeps reminding himself it could be worse, the Hall could have burned to the ground, his family could have been hurt and, he could be far too poor to rebuild the great Hall. Fortunately, much of the great hall did survive, all his family is well and accounted for, and he certainly has the means to hire a top-notch architectural firm to rebuild and restore his home.
After three failed engagements, Winfield Elliott never does anything without proper thought and consideration. He investigates every possible avenue for increasing his family’s wealth before investing and he certainly inquires as to the quality and character of those he may be doing business with. The architectural firm of Garrett and Tempest comes highly recommended so when the firm’s representative shows up to meet Win outside his ruined home, he is absolutely prepared. Until Miranda Hadley-Attwater Garrett steps out of the coach and into his life.
Miranda Hadley-Attwater Garrett is unlike anyone Win has ever met. She is confident, intelligent, quick-witted, and completely at ease with overseeing the re-construction of Fairborough Hall. And why shouldn’t she be? For the past six years unbeknownst to virtually everyone, Miranda has been Garrett and Tempest’s chief architect and designer. Following her husband’s death, Miranda assumed the company’s debt and continued to work behind the scenes creating all the plans for each and every client while one of her male employees oversees the work and deals with clients face-to-face. Miranda has not only managed to decrease the debt but has even seen her business begin to turn quite a profit. The only problem? If word were to ever get out that Garrett and Tempest were run by a woman, the business would fail and all Miranda’s employees would be without an income. This is something Miranda simply cannot allow.
Instantly, Miranda and Win are at odds with one another. Win is as completely unsure about a woman overseeing construction as Miranda is sure about her abilities and qualifications. Miranda is no-nonsense and straightforward and refuses to allow the stunningly handsome man to intimidate her. Miranda knows architecture and convinces Win she and Garrett and Tempest are the best firm for the project. Miranda even convinces the old-fashioned and as his mother calls him “stodgy” Winfield to modernize the place with electricity!!
As construction on Fairborough Hall progresses so do the snarky comments, pokes and jabs between Miranda and Win. The two absolutely infuriate one another but there is also an underlying attraction that each wants desperately to ignore. Win doesn’t completely trust Miranda, he knows she is hiding something and is fearful of giving himself over to her before knowing all her dark secrets. In order to satisfy his curiosity, and because simply asking would just be too damn simple, Win hires a private investigator to dig into Miranda’s life. Miranda is hiding something from Win and is desperately afraid he will turn away from her if he discovers her true role at Garrett and Tempest. While Miranda know she will eventually have to tell Win her dirty little secret, she hopes it is not before she completes the Fairborough project and secures her employees’ future.
Perhaps my favorite part of this read is the constant bickering between Win and Miranda. The two are ruthless with their barbs and are often left wondering about their own snarkiness. Miranda refuses to back down and Win refuses to be bested though he often is. 🙂 Both characters are as fun as they are frustrating and so easy to connect to; you want them to fight so when they do finally get together it will be well worth the wait! Easily my second favorite part of the book is the moment when Miranda confesses virtually everything, including her feelings for Win in an outburst of anger to her family. All of Miranda’s finest qualities come screaming to her aid as she quite succinctly albeit rather politely tells everyone to go to hell! Fantastic moment for Miranda and the reader 🙂 My third favorite part of this read, Miranda and Win’s mothers. Those two old birds have got everything figured out and maneuver everyone just as they need to be and just when they need to be in order to get Miranda and Win together at last. Love those two ladies somethin’ fierce 🙂
The Bottom Line: The Importance of Being Wicked is a fine historical romance with relatable, funny and caring characters. The dialogue is witty, snarky and funny (personal faves!!) and caries the reader easily through the book. While there are no hugely intense moments of action there is a very steady pace to the read with little to no slow spots. There is little to no cursing and only a few light naughty bits so I would feel safe recommending this thoroughly enjoyable historical romance read to new adult readers and beyond.
Win’s mother: “Do try to be pleasant.”
Win: “I am being pleasant!”
Win’s mother: “My mistake then. I thought you were being rather stiff and stodgy and annoyed and just the tiniest bit outraged. I’m sure no one else noticed.” (pages 56-57)
He watched her for a moment, then huffed. How on earth had she managed to turn the tables? Why, as he had clearly won, did he feel as though he had somehow lost?
“I know exactly what you just did, you know,” he called after her.
“Good.” (page 212ish)
She did so love annoying him and everything was so much easier when he was confused. This was going quite well thus far. (page 349)