Review: Wicked Game by Jade Falconer

Niels got more than he bargained for when he broke into a certain townhouse in the fashionable section of London. The arrogant and dictatorial lord who caught him red-handed was more than willing to take advantage of the situation. Temporarily forced into a unique form of servitude, Niels learns more than he ever expected to about the decadent ruling class that he wants so badly to emulate. Masquerading as a foreign nobleman is easy for the charming Fin (sic) who grew to manhood on the streets of London, abandoned by the only family he had. But will his experience at manipulating people and winning their confidence help him with Richard? Or get him into even more trouble?

Elements: M/M, BDSM, Historical Regency Excerpt

Review by Erastes

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad book – but I did find it difficult to read, difficult to stay with and difficult to finish. For a start off, it’s NOT a Regency. In fact I don’t blame the publisher for thinking it is, because – like so many historicals – it’s a wallpaper historical and pretty hard to work out which era this IS in. I was more than half way through the book before I spotted a mention of trains and of Victoria Station which jolted me considerably – suddenly I had to jump forward to the Victorian era and re-set the story in 1862 onwards.

But really, that’s the only clue of the era – the historical background is almost invisible (unsurprising as most of it is set between the sheets) and you could remove the candles and carriages and you would have a modern romance with about four minutes editing.

From the first page I could tell this was going to be one of those books where the sex outweighs the plot and I wasn’t wrong, and apart from the last couple of chapters you could summarise this as “sex” and “shopping.” There’s sex near enough from the first page which continues almost non stop for about 40 or so pages as the reluctant thief is seduced and shown a good time by the randy lord. It starts in a promising fashion – the lord is suitably remote and brooding, due to a bitch of a mother – and the set up was a fun way to get Niels into Richard’s bed but I was expecting a bit more than “Niels gets jiggy with it pretty quickly.”

Don’t get me wrong. I like erotica – I do! It’s just that if I pay for a decent sized book (66,000 words) – and you can call me Ms Picky if you like – I actually like some plot with it. I feel a bit cheated if I find myself skipping entire chapters because the MC’s are “at it again.” It’s like buying a ham and lettuce sandwich and finding that there’s 10 leaves of lettuce and one wafer thin slice of ham.

I quite liked the characters despite all that. Richard was, as said before, nicely brooding and Niels, albeit pretty and virgin to men, is not your typical girlie submissive. I got the feeling that they’d be switching roles at some point. They act like men too in as much as they are totally incapable of saying what needs to be said at the right time, like “don’t go.” The two minor characters are nicely done, too, but this is one of the reasons that I can’t mark the book higher, because at 66,000 words, I’d expect more than four characters – it’s the marathon sex sessions that elbow any possibility of more plot/more characters out of the way, and that’s a pity.

No – or very little -OKHomo, which was a refreshing change – the characters are aware of the illegality of their liaison and the unlikelihood of their being able to just “set up house” together without major problems. But despite that, the anachronisms are legion, a duel in the late 19th century, when the last one was at least 10 years previous – characters saying “piss off”(1950’s) and “that’s brilliant!” and “sexy” (1925) just to mention a few. Oh and “gotten” but that almost goes without saying.

There are other technical problems, subject confusion abounds – and this is caused by switches in POV that make it very hard to understand who is thinking, who is talking. Reviews of Standish pointed this “sin” out to me, and now – as I attempt to keep faithful in POV for longer sections – I’m very glad they did. Phaze should have edited these switches out, especially when it led to me going “who’s talking? what’s he talking about?”

Falconer appears to be a collaboration of writers, as s/he speaks on her LiveJournal in the royal we. I think they aren’t bad writers, but they need to tighten up in a good few aspects, and then they’d have a book I’d really enjoy to read.

Buy from Phaze

5 Responses

  1. Idle curiosity, really, but the mention of anachronisms makes me wonder why so many US authors still write historicals set in England, when they have a rich history of their own dating back to the 17th century that would be every bit as fascinating to read about. Is it because a Regency, by definition, has to be set in England? Is it driven by publisher demand? I’d be really interested to know….

  2. That would be a good subject for a discussion. Fancy whipping up some text?

  3. Interesting! And in response to Fiona Glass, it might be the same thing that makes movie directors set a lot of movies about the 19th century in an Austen-like environment: people are just used to it. I think a lot of people automatically associate ‘Victorian’ with Great Brittain…Or maybe I’m completely off 🙂

    Erastesdotcom: I enjoy your blog a lot!

  4. That’s an interesting idea, 19thcentury. 🙂

    Erastes: boy, I sure talked myself into that one, didn’t I? LOL Let me think about it for a day or two….

  5. Heh. I’m never one to let an opportunity to pass me by!

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