Too Wicked to Love
by Debra Mullins 
(Avon, $7.99, PG-13)  ISBN  978-0-06-188250-0
**
She's a spoiled brat who who's had her heart trampled upon.  He's a detached commoner with a secret. In fact, a life full of secrets. They don't suit, yet when John Ready's good friend Samuel Breedlove asks him to watch over his new sister-in-law, Genevieve Wallington-Willis manages to pound down the barriers of what had previously been a good firm will and strong intellect.  Too Wicked to Love by Debra Mullins follows John Ready's story and picks up nearly where Tempting a Proper Lady leaves off as the men try to bring a villain to heel.

John didn't want his past coming to light. Actually, had it not been for Samuel needing his aid against a scoundrel and a murderer named Ravencroft, John would  still have been in America, not attending balls and weddings and a particular house party — all of which bring him into contact with exactly the people he knows he needs to avoid if he wants to remain unidentified.

Genny, however, with her flirtations and her poor bruised little heart draw him.  Genny represents a lot of things John shouldn't want anymore, but primarily life in London.  Far be it for me to say what John sees in Genny, who seems shallow, rude, and prone to jumping to conclusions – but she's not getting any great bargain; her lover is not only secretive (and with what amounts to a pretty clichéd reason), but curt and boring, despite everything that he's been through.

Nonetheless, the romance progresses as these things do in a period romance novel.  John has also been charged with keeping an eye on a lovely young lady named Annabelle Bailey, who has fallen under the eye of the despicable Ravencroft.  Ravencroft, as is made clear to those readers who didn't read the previous book, is a known murderer and molester, and at one point had been driven from the country.  Ravencroft's interference in Annabelle's life skirts the edges of John Ready's history with the man — which leads to the history of John himself.  Obvious clues keeping dropping into the laps of guests of the Baileys', yet Genny is the only one critical enough to notice, and she makes a habit of pestering Ready about it.

Can a common man with a false identity and a dark past make a life with a darling of the ton?  The answer is yes, and will all but scream at readers from the beginning.  Too Wicked to Love is trite and trundles along through at least the first half.  You'd think a book with a bad guy as loathesome as Ravencroft would be compelling, but the bulk of the book is about Genny's and John's private thoughts and longing — none of which are interesting or surprising.  The big twist isn't very twisty and the characters, of which there are too many, are unmemorable at best.  Perhaps if you'd become invested in the murderous plotline of the first novel you will still want to pick up this one.  If you do, I'd recommend checking it out at your library instead of paying for it.

--Sarrah Knight


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