Over the course of the past year I have read over 150 regency romances. Amazon sells thousands of regency romances — many too poorly written to be worth reading. Thus, I find myself most often choosing what books to read based on authors.
Eloisa James is my absolute favorite. I truly believe that (other than the first desperate duchesses book that felt vaguely mildly incest-y) that she can do no wrong. Her book ‘When Beauty Tamed the Beast” is my go-to recommendation for regency romance novel virgins.
That said, while I liked “Too Wilde to Wed” I found it slightly underwhelming. The book tells the story of North and Diana — two characters introduced in James’ previous book “Wilde in Love.”
In “Wilde in Love” North, the heir to a dukedom, is engaged to Miss Diana — a seemingly docile beautiful woman. Despite awkward conversations and the obvious reality that Diana simply wasn’t into him, North fancies himself in love with Diana. To a reader, it is pretty clear that North is thinking with his dick on this one. At the end of the book, Diana jilts North and flees. In response, North runs off to the Americas to go find in the Revolutionary War.
The book starts off two years later after North returns home and discovers that Diana is working as a governess at his house! She is caring for her young nephew (although he suspects for a while that the boy is her son). Immediately sparks fly as North discovers that Diana is not docile at all while Diana discovers that North is not nearly as stuffy as she thought (i.e. he doesn’t always wear heels). I’m not going to spoil the rest of the book, but I will let y’all know that it has a happy ending (but then again, what regency romance novel doesn’t?).
The writing style is Eloisa James at her best: full of humor, witty banter, and sizzling chemistry. For that reason alone, the book is a must read for summer. However, like I mentioned earlier, the book was remarkably underwhelming: neither North nor Diana were particularly likable, and I found their story ridiculously inconceivable (and not in the everyone is getting kidnapped and this isn’t remotely historical accurate way…I love those kind of books).
As a reader, you are excepted to believe that North feel in love with Diana at first sight. He loved her as a quiet, blushing woman under her mother’s thumb who went out of her way to avoid him. And, despite going to war, never fell out of love with her. When he meets her again, he realizes she is a dramatically different person than he originally thought — full of fire, snarky comebacks, and a burning desire for independence. And yet he never seriously doubts his love towards her despite this monumental shift in her personality. This seriously bothered me. I mean, I’m all for Diana’s newfound confidence, but North’s unwavering devotion makes me think that the only reason North wants Diana at all is her looks — that he didn’t give a damn about her personality.
My other issue with this book resided in the character of Diana. I tend to really enjoy books that feature spunky heroines who defy societal expectations, but Diana made decisions that were simply irresponsible and, frankly, stupid. James paints Diana as a woman devoted to her nephew, and yet the choices Diana makes are selfish and not in the child’s best interest.
All that said, I would recommend one reads “Too Wilde to Wed” if they have the chance. The ending of the book is truly unique and I smiled at the lighthearted humor the entire duration of the book. However, it is definitely not James best.