cover image A Little Bit Wicked

A Little Bit Wicked

Victoria Alexander. Avon, $7.99 (373pp) ISBN 978-0-06-088262-4

Bestselling author Alexander returns to Victorian England for her latest, the promising kickoff to a four-book series. In 1854 London, four titled gentlemen make a bet: the last man to avoid the inevitable trap of marriage wins an expensive bottle of brandy-as well as his precious freedom, for as long as necessity will allow. The first to face his trial is Gideon Pearsall, Viscount Warton, who lost his heart years ago to a conniving woman who briefly married him to make another lover jealous. Gideon firmly believes he will never love again, and the new ""adventure"" he's begun with Lady Judith Chester is merely that-a chance for excitement, a quenching of desire. Lady Chester, for her part, feels the same. A widow whose former husband abused her in secret, Lady Chester simply wants to enjoy her freedom with a man who's merely bad, rather than controlling and cruel. But the wounds of the past have a way of catching up with the carefree lovers, conspiring to expose their real, raw feelings for each other. The rich characters in this first installment of Alexander's ""Last Man Standing"" series (wickedly similar to Stephanie Laurens's Bastion Club novels) make this a satisfying start, though one hopes for a little more action and passion in future installments.