Fiendishly Bookish's Reviews > A Little Bit Wild
by Victoria Dahl
bookshelves: favorites, sweet-romancy-romance, 5-star
Last night I was reading A Little Bit Wild, a historical romance/erotic novel by one of my favorite authors, Victoria Dahl. In reading Dahl’s book, I was struck how unlikely a character Jude Bertram was as a hero and how much I liked him the way that Dahl had cast him. I didn’t see A Little Bit Wild as a Beauty and Beast re-telling, but rather a challenge to the historical romance stereotype of hero and heroine.
In my quest for the unlikely gentleman, the one that lives and breathes outside the stereotype that authors fall prey too, A Little Bit Wild holds a secret place in my heart. Its plot in a way parallels the dilemma that I had been musing on earlier. It got me to thinking, do we as readers set the template for our hero and heroine? Do we demand it? Are our desires dictating that authors conjure up the most improbable of fantasies?
In A Little Bit Wild, Dahl’s male lead Jude Bertram is very much an outside-of-the-box hero, and better yet, his character knows it. It’s what makes him so endearing to readers. As the acknowledged illegitimate son of a Duke, Jude is a self-made man who has carved his life and his body by sheer mind-numbing work. He is not a fop and he’s definitely not pretty. He has none of the soft features that society favors but one that is full of character and sharp edges. He doesn’t cavort around with a holier-than-thou attitude a `la Fitzwilliam Darcy, but is rather the anti-stereotype.
Dahl has infused Jude’s character with a vulnerable side that is directly linked to his self-perception. Jude knows that he does not fit in with the model template of society. He more resembles a groundskeeper than a polite gentleman. But there is a sense of self-acceptance and earthy sensuality to him that I find rather appealing. He knows exactly who he is and who he wants. His vulnerability to his looks is brought to the fore when he desires the one thing he thinks he cannot have: Marissa York.
For Marissa, being a “bit wild” or that that innate curiosity into the affairs between men and women has been a mystery that she has been desperate to solve. It also challenges the stereotype of feminine “purity” so common in historical romance heroines. Her past minor dalliances have left her mostly unscathed and relegated to youthful fumblings. That is, until her latest fiasco with Peter White which has left her compromised and at the mercy of her family and society.
Jude offers to court Marissa to stave off any impending scandal and protect her and her family. But all the wiles he possesses will not dispel the fact that Marissa has an “ideal” in mind, and painfully Jude knows that he does not fit into it. Marissa has always been attracted to fops, to the tons “pretty” boys- fair-of-face and body. But can Jude convince her? Possess her? Can he woo her into seeing who he really is?
A Little Bit Wild is a great romance, a grand romance. Its unlikely love affair wound itself delicately into my heart and did not let go. Readers will be rooting for Jude all the way, as he demands nothing more than the truest, deepest form of love from Marissa-one that transcends looks and class status. It touched on the most vulnerable facets of love…our self-perceptions and worthiness to love and allowed to be loved. It was absolutely refreshing to have a character aware of their shortcomings and it dually provided a challenge to the author to craft them in a way that is appealing and went beyond superficial artifice.
I cannot recommend A Little Bit Wild highly enough as well as any of Dahl’s numerous accomplished novels all of which I adore.
A Fiendishly Bookish Review (and one grumpy cat)