Winfield Elliott, Viscount Stillwell, will do just about anything to put his family home back to rights after it is damaged in a fire. Even the argumentative, albeit strangely attractive, widow representing the firm he’s hired to refurbish it. With her sensible, but ugly, shoes and obvious enjoyment at thwarting him, she should be easy to resist. Lady Miranda Garrett knows all about Win’s reputation – three broken engagements and a rakish youth – so she expects him to be charming. She also expected to be able to resist him. But the more time they spend together, the more drawn to him she becomes. And soon they find themselves dangerously flirting with love.
I really like Win. He’s smart, with charmingly befuddled moments thanks to Miranda, earnest and definitely sexy. He has a strong core of responsibility and honor, love for his family, and dedication to his friends. And for the most part I like Miranda. She’s sassy, smart, and funny. I do think her belief that Win is a “twit” and the condescending way she treats him early on is a little overdone. I think that it is supposed to be charming but it just seems mean to me. Yes, he says a few things about a woman’s place in the world and is hesitant to work with Miranda but this is also the prevailing belief of the time. Part of it stems from Miranda’s hurt pride that he doesn’t live up to his reputation and try to seduce her pants off, figuratively speaking, but it just makes her seem a little spiteful. But as their relationship progresses, their interactions become a little more playful and less negative. After that, their road to a happy ending might not be bump free but it is definitely a more enjoyable ride.
There are lies and secrets throughout the story, but what good historical romance doesn’t have at least a few. Win’s failed engagements are part of a previous novella, Lord Stillwell’s Excellent Engagements, but while that story does give some history on Win and a little more insight into his character, I don’t think it is necessary to have read it before reading this one. It is included at the back of the book, though, if readers want to skip to it first and then come back to finish The Importance of Being Wicked. And it should also be mentioned that Alexander has a large number of books in print and some of the characters and events from previous stories appear in this one. Again, I don’t think that it is a requirement to have read them, but I do think that familiarity with them might lend a little extra depth to the story. I enjoyed it any way but I get the feeling I could have had a better understanding of things if this hadn’t been the first book I’d read.
Overall, The Importance of Being Wicked is an entertaining historical romance, with a cheeky heroine who keeps her charming hero on his toes, amusing flirtations, a little heat, and quite a bit of heart.