Sunday, April 27, 2014

New Review: Barbara Cartland’s THE WICKED MARQUIS – A Classic Regency That Still Appeals and a Plot to Entertain!

First published in 1978, six years after Kathleen Woodiwiss’ classic bodice ripper THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER, this Regency romance presented quite a change. It’s lighthearted banter, short length (at 217 pages), and no more than kisses for its love scenes might seem incongruous with the romances being written then. But it just shows you how varied the historical romance genre was and is.

I loved this story and it kept me up reading late into the night wanting to see how it would end. Set in England in 1817-18, it’s the story of Orelia Stanyon, the niece of a country earl deeply committed to improving the life of the poor, who dies as the story begins leaving Orelia and her cousin Caroline in need of funds. But Caroline, though in love with a young lord who went abroad to make his fortune, has managed to become engaged to Darius, the handsome, wealthy and wicked Marquis of Ryde. Caroline does not love him but sees it as a good move for her future security. When Caroline and Orelia move into the marquis’ home to await the wedding, Orelia realizes that the marquis is the same gentleman who stole a kiss from her outside the George and Dragon Inn.

Darius has never forgotten that kiss he gave to the young woman he thought a mere country lass. And he is shocked when she appears in his home as his betrothed’s cousin. Orelia with her heart of gold is determined to see her cousin happy and the social ills of London addressed. By the terms of Caroline’s father’s will, she was made Orelia’s guardian, and Orelia was to be Caroline’s conscience. As the wedding approaches, Caroline plays fast and loose with her amours and Orelia has a job keeping up, all the while she is beginning to realize her true feelings for the marquis.

The most striking thing about this story was the fast-paced dialog and the intriguing twists in the plot. Cartland’s writing style sometimes drops into the omniscient, narrator voice but I quickly got used to it. She shows you what all the characters are thinking in her own way and it’s quite charming. While the story is not deeply emotional, it has enough action (including a wretched villain who wants Orelia for his own), and enough angst to keep you on the edge of your reading seat. You will enjoy this one, I promise. I recommend it!


  1. Oh, what a terrific review! I haven't read a Cartland in years but I used to devour them like M & Ms! They were always so sweet and exciting and so sigh-worthy romantic! I'll have to go hunt one down. I'm sure I have some on my shelves!

    1. Kat, you are so right. This one was sigh-worthy. Send me a pre-paid mailer and you can have my copy. (Contact me via email.)