Book Review: Born to Be Wilde by Eloisa James

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For the past three months, I have thought about this book every single day.

I am not exaggerating.

Eloisa James is arguably my favorite author and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed both of her Wilde books so far. Yet, throughout the two books, I salivated at every scene that featured Lavinia and Parth—their bickering made the series for me. Needless to say I was very, very, very excited for this book.

So last night, at nine pm (I live on the West Coast), when the book popped up on my Kindle homepage I screamed. I sounded like a sixth-grade girl at the release of a Justin Bieber album. I promptly ignored the entire world (including my ten friends at my house for Bachelorette night) and started reading.

This book thoroughly met my expectations. I’ve already read it twice. It gave me all of the warm and fuzzy feelings and at least five daydreams. Watching Lavinia and Parth dance around their feelings touched my little heart.

This book was much darker than I excepted. Lavinia is dealing with her mom who, in the depths of an opioid addiction, squandered Lavinia’s dowry and stole from their friends. At the beginning of the book, Lavinia asks Parth to marry her out of desperation. Of course, she also asks due to her lingering infatuation—all of those insults she flung around for the past two books were really just a product of her inability to express her feelings. A very relatable issue to be honest.

Parth doesn’t know what to do with Lavinia after discovering her circumstances. He promises to help find her an adequate spouse but the more time he spends around Lavinia he begins to recognize her intelligence, her acute business acumen, and gains respect for her passion for fashion. She is not at the shallow vain girl that he once pegged her as.

This book is a gradual burn: lust is not conflated with love and there are very few sexy time scenes. In some ways, the book is less about Parth and Lavinia’s romance and more about Lavinia’s journey to find her confidence and self-worth. Born to be Wilde did not wallow in angst, but it is not a cheery read either. If you come into this book excepting 300 pages of silly flirtation and hurling insults (essentially Parth and Lavinia’s relationship in the previous two books), you will be disappointed. The reality of Lavinia’s situation is grim, and Eloisa James does not sugarcoat. However, the serious tone of the book fits the plot and definitely brings new depth to the characters we first met in Wilde in Love. And, as someone who loves cutesy romances, I actually believe the book is all the stronger for its serious tone.

I truly believe this is one of Eloisa James’ best books. While her writing is always superb, I don’t always like James’ characters. I loved Parth: his dedication to the Wildes, his confidence, and his sardonic humor. However, this is Lavinia’s book. Her quiet strength, ambition, and grab-the-bull-by-its-horns approach to life made her one of my favorite romance heroines of all time.

While this book can definitely be read as a standalone, I would highly recommend reading the previous two books in the series so you can gain a sense of Parth and Lavinia’s relationship before this book.

This book simply amazing. It has earned a spot on my all times favs shelf.

Rating: 5/5

Book Review: Too Wilde to Wed

Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 4.19.04 PMOver 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.

Rating: 3.7/5