This RITA® Reader Challenge review was written by Zulma, who really enjoyed this book. This novel finaled in the Historical Romance category.
Plot Summary: Jude Bertrand is not an excellent dancer. Nor does he wear the most fashionable coats. But when Marissa York’s brother approaches him, desperate to preserve Marissa’s tenuous reputation, Jude does prove heroic enough to offer to marry the girl. In fact, the union should more than make up for his lack of social graces and his own scandalous past. . .
Marissa knows that betrothal to the son of a duke, even one as raw and masculine as Jude, will save her from ruin, but that doesn’t mean she’s happy about it. Soon, though, she finds that Jude has a surprisingly gentle touch and plans to use it to persuade Marissa that their wedding day cannot come soon enough. . .
And here is Zulma’s review:
A Little Bit Wild by Victoria Dahl has all the elements that I love in romance novels – the strong hero who is eventually captured by love, and a strong heroine who defies conventions and explores her sexuality despite the moral restrictions placed on women of the era.
I loved this book because it had two very likable main characters. Jude Bertrand is the bastard son of a French courtesan and an English duke. He is not handsome but rather brutish looking, yet still manages to capture the eye of certain unhappily married women who look at him with “avid hunger” in their eyes. They seem to sense he can make them happy. Marissa York, on the other hand, is a gently bred young lady who has a certain wildness about her that only Jude seems to sense. She is impatient to experience sexual pleasure.
The book begins with Marissa having sex for the first time with a gentleman who leaves her unsatisfied and, unfortunately for her and her family, compromised. This beginning in itself was unexpected and refreshing. Marissa is a rebellious heroine, curious and naughty, who does not wait around for prince charming to come rescue her. Instead, she seeks her pleasure but refuses to betroth herself to her less than ideal suitor. She instead finds herself temporarily engaged to Jude who, as a friend of the family, has eagerly accepted to step in and deflect the scandal that threatens to engulf the York family because of Marissa’s actions.
What follows is a wonderful story of how these two so very different characters learn to appreciate each other. Marissa is partial to young men who cut dashing figures. Her eyes travel over men’s bodies, especially their thighs, while they are dancing. Jude, for his part, is attracted to the wildness that “lurked under her skin.” He likes her because she is “wicked, and there can be no finer blessing for a man than good and wicked wife,” he explains. He sets out to seduce her into wanting to become his wife by appealing to her desire to experience sexual fulfillment.
Marissa is at first repelled by Jude’s brutish looks and “unrelenting largeness.” She likes her men a bit more refined. She is a bit shallow in this respect. But as Jude shows her the difference between men and boys, as he refers to her refined admirers, Marissa comes to appreciate him and eventually falls in love with him.
What I most like about these two characters is how they grow throughout the book. Marissa is not your typical historical romance heroine without sexual experience. She has a past and Jude accepts this. She realizes how shallow she is and learns to appreciate Jude for who he is, a kind, caring, and sexy man. Jude, on the other hand, realizes Marissa is more than just a wild thing. He learns not to take her for granted.
The love scenes between these two are hot and steamy. Jude is clever in appealing to Marissa’s desire to experience sexual fulfillment. Yet he soon realizes this is not how he wants to tie her to him. Of the two characters, Jude is the more interesting in that he undergoes deeper emotional changes, although Marissa also learns to appreciate more than a nicely turned leg in a man.
This is definitely one of those books that deserve a second and even third read.