Kit★'s Reviews > Wicked Loving Lies

Wicked Loving Lies by Rosemary Rogers
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's review
Apr 22, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: historical, romance
Recommended for: People who like the abuse
Read from December 07 to 20, 2011

First off, I have to laugh a little, because I read this back in December, and am just now typing up my (handwritten) review, and the details of this book are already pretty foggy in my mind. Dunno if that's anything to go for recommending this book ;) Onto the review:
I picked this book up mostly because of its notoriety, I wanted to see for myself what this story was all about. It was the winner of a 'Pick My Next Read' poll in the Western and Medieval Romance Lovers Group... so it was time to get on with reading it. To be honest here, this book was a struggle to read in places. Don't get me wrong, I grew to be invested in the heroine, Marisa, rather quickly, and wanted to see her end up happy, but whenever the 'hero' Dominic appeared, it was sometimes hard to keep reading the abuse he heaped on her. It was a constant barrage of totally wrong accusations, name calling and other forms of verbal abuse, and of course, the notorious rape... again and again. It's a wonder the poor girl's parts were even functioning by the end of the book. Thankfully, for a good portion of the book they are separated, or I might not have been able to finish.
So the premise is - poor young Marisa has been raised in a Spanish convent ever since her French mother and nursemaid were killed in the French Revolution when Marisa was just a child. She's a little bit wild and headstrong, but determined to become a nun. She vows she'll let no man touch her, since she witnessed the brutal gang-rape of her nurse as they fled the Terror in Paris. So one day, she gets news from her father (who's been living in Louisiana on his huge plantation all this time) that she's to wed Don Pedro Arteaga. She also overhears Don Pedro himself talking bawdily with his friend, and so she swears she will not marry him. Instead, she decides to run away with her Gypsy friend Blanca, whose caravan is leaving for France. Disguised as a Gypsy girl, she's unfortunately caught out alone one night at a festival, and it's here she officially meets the male lead of this tale, Dominic Challenger, who was shown earlier in the novel to have had a pretty damn rough life so far... He's hated by his (secretly) homosexual Duke father (who may not really be his father, due to the fact that Dom's mother was abducted from their plantation property back in America by a group of raiding natives, and supposedly fell in with a wild frontiersman) who ships him off to Ireland where his mother came from. Here he gets involved with the rebellion, and is captured, and brought to the Duke, who imprisons him and tortures him before packing him off to the Royal Navy as practically a slave. So anyway, this is where our lead characters meet, and he and his friends assume her to be a Gypsy and force her to go along with them, despite her protests and attempted escape. Dom really shows himself to be a dick here for the first time, treating her roughly and being rude. But of course he just thinks that she's a worthless Gypsy girl, and she doesn't tell any of them her true identity because she doesn't think they'll believe her anyway. By the end of the night, she's been intoxicated and hauled off to someone's house, where Dom rapes her, quite roughly, and even worse because she's a virgin. It's only the first in a long line of rapes for Marisa. The next morning finds him all pissy because she didn't tell him she was a virgin, and he tells his man Donald to give her some coins and take her back to the Gypsies. However, the caravan has moved on. She begs Donald to help her get to France, where she has a wealthy aunt and a powerful godmother. So Donald smuggles her onto Dominic's ship, which just so conveniently happens to be heading to France. Of course it's not long before Dominic discovers her presence and makes her a captive in his cabin, raping her a bunch more times, degrading her at every turn, forcing her to remain naked most of the time despite her discomfort. So of course she hates his bloody guts, and tries to fight back in any way she can, but being all small and tiny female doesn't help. At last they reach France, and she makes a wild escape, running and falling bedraggled into the arms of Philip Sinclair, who just so happens to be ol' Dom's cousin. After hearing a slightly edited version of her story, he rushes her to the palace of Napoleon Bonaparte, whose wife Josephine turns out to be Marisa's godmother. Marisa is reunited with her and also with her aunt Edmee, and it's not long before she's introduced to society and quickly is a beautiful and sought-after woman. Philip becomes her favorite companion and they spend a lot of time together, she fancies herself in love with him, his kindness and gentle way of treating her a huge contrast to Dominic's abuse. However, the happy bubble is not to last, and Dominic reappears, as her aunt's lover none-the-less. At least he doesn't rape her during this time, but he does take his chances to berate her some more. Soon Napoleon has his eye on Marisa, wanting her for his mistress, though she really doesn't want to be. One night she and Philip go for a stroll in the gardens while at a party, and they are caught alone together, though they weren't misbehaving or anything. Dominic quickly steps forward and tells the gathered crowd that he's had his way with Marisa loads of times, and therefore will marry her himself. She's outraged, but her aunt and everyone else thinks it's a splendid idea, even though she told her aunt that it was Dominic who had raped her before she made her escape. On her wedding night she's supposed to remain under Napoleon's roof, but Dom steals her away to a secluded villa, where he proceeds to yell at her for forcing him to marry her (which really ticked me off seeing as how the bastard volunteered his self for whatever reason!) and heaps some more name-calling and verbal abuse on her. She yells at him for being a rutting beast, and so he rips her gown off and carries her upstairs where he actually doesn't rape her this time, but uses some foreplay and such and shows her pleasure. For about a day they start to get along, and even sort of seem like they might start to care for each other... but one little comment by her about his previous treatment of her sets him off again, and he's back to being King Bastard of Dickwad Hill, throwing accusations of being a lying whore in her face and all that good stuff. After getting one more nice good extra brutal rape in, he leaves, taking all the servants and supplies with him, leaving her completely alone in the house save some halfwit peasant dude. When she awakes she's not feeling so hot, and collapses in a haze of pain. Seems she was pregnant from her time on Dom's ship, and his most recent brutality upon her person has caused her to miscarry. She send the peasant guy for help, and when she awakens again her aunt, and Josephine, a Jo's daughter are there to comfort her. After some time passes, she accompanies her aunt back to Edmee's home in England where Marisa has been set with the task of gathering info from French emigres about possible Royalist plots against Napoleon. She's also reunited with Philip and accepted into society, and eventually meets Dominic's father the Duke, with whom she forms an uneasy sort of alliance. She decides to become Philip's lover, and while on their way to Bath, they are set upon by what seems to be highwaymen. Philip is tied up and forced to watch while one of the men rapes her and brands her with a hot iron on her inner thigh. She's given a warning to give up her spying and whoring. Once the mystery man leaves, she unties Philip, only to have him, excited by watching her get used roughly before his eyes like a prostitute, fall upon her and have his way with her. Then they make haste to Bath where her aunt calls a doctor and tries to console her. Marisa's not upset with Philip for his actions though, and they become lovers in full. Soon however, Dominic makes his return to London and she's forced to play the obedient wife. He keeps his hands off her for awhile though, until one night when they argue and he proceeds to get drunk and decides to 'punish' her again. Her traitorous body unfortunately responds though, and she ends up, well, not hating it. The next morning she decides to run away with Philip. They wind up at the Duke's house, where, unbeknownst to her, the Duke and Philip have arranged an attempt on Dom's life. However Dom doesn't die, instead, the Duke does... and when Philip tries to shoot Dom in retaliation, the gun explodes and kills him. Immediately Dom rounds up Marisa and they are on the move. Dom confesses to being the mystery rapist who had branded her, as well as confessing to killing her father through injuries acquired in a duel (before he ever met Marisa). He books them on a ship to Spain, but before they get there, they're set upon by pirates and taken captive, along with the other passengers on board. Marisa tells them who she is, and that they'll get a hefty ransom from Napoleon for her return. She and the other two captured women are taken to stay at the house of Kamil, an important Turkish military man. He has sworn off traditional sex with a woman for a period of time, something to do with his career in the military, but convenient for him, he really enjoys the company of young boys, as that form of sex is not forbidden by his vows, and it's not uncommon or strange where he's at, so he's not deprived of all sex. It just so happens that Marisa isn't a curvy girl, in fact she's rather slim and could easily pass for a boy, especially with her newly cropped hair. It's not long before Kamil is all hot for her, and they become lovers... but due to those pesky vows, he can't do her normal style, he's gotta do her the other way, like... y'know what I'm saying? But he's kind to her, and shows her loads and loads of pleasure in their romps by night, and by day she goes about garbed as a boy, accompanying him everywhere, riding, patrolling, etc, learning and reveling in the freedoms she gets. All too soon though it becomes apparent that she's pregnant with Dominic's child, and she fears Kamil won't like her anymore if she starts to look more womanly. He consoles her though, and offers her a way to be rid of the pregnancy, but she decides she wants to have the child. Kamil promises her that he'll let her keep it, but his real plans are more cruel. If it is a boy, he will sell it to one of the many pleasure houses to be trained and used for bad things. If it is a girl, he may let her keep it, but only to eventually sell it off as a young wife to someone else. When the baby arrives, it is a boy and is secreted away in haste. They tell her it was a stillborn (girl if I remember right), and since her attendants had drugged her during labor, she knew no different. She's depressed by the news, but Kamil promises her that when his vow period is up, he'll give her many more children. He's decided not to ransom her after all, and wants to marry her instead. But it's not to be, as war with America seems to be looming. He is called to a different town, and his scheming jealous sister arranges for the bashaw to ransom Marisa back to France, and so she's off again. Dom in the meanwhile has found shelter with a tribe whose leader he saved. He joins up with a group of American soldiers, and finds a way to kill Kamil and rescue his baby son and his nurse Selma, who was one of the other captured passengers. Back in France, Marisa at last becomes Napoleon's mistress, for a few months anyway. After that, she heads to New Spain to be reunited with her uncle, a very important man in the Church. She thinks she wants to become a nun after all, but he tells her she needs to experience more in life first. So he sends Marisa off to meet her father's widow Inez, and to see the plantation and lands her father had left to her (M). Her escort to Louisiana turns out to be Don Pedro, who it seems hasn't lost his desire to wed her. For awhile he seems ok, a gentleman for the most part. When she reaches Louisiana, she finds her stepmother is just as much of a bitch as she had envisioned her to be. Marisa's quickly accepted into the local society, and they attend parties and balls and all that. Ah, but kismet shows its face, and it turns out that Dominic's here in Louisiana too, and engaged to a wealthy plantation owner's prim and proper daughter. While out riding, Marisa has the misfortune of running into him without the protection of other people around, and of course they set to fighting, and well, as we know Dom, he pulls her off her horse, throws her down, and rapes her. But having been well-taught about pleasure now, she responds and it becomes a heated thing. When she returns to her stepmother's home, she's berated by her and Don P. Then she learns Dom has a son who is about the same age as her child would've been had it lived. She begins to get suspicious and confronts him about it. He confirms that it is her child. She says she will do anything to see him, and they go to a room above a tavern where he demands to know why she thinks she deserves it after having abandoned the boy. She tells him the truth about having been told it was stillborn, and amazingly he believes her, but they're arguing anyway and he gets mad when she mentions Kamil, so he flips her over onto the bed and takes her the way Kamil always did, but without the benefits of oil and massage and all that stuff that makes it a bit more pleasurable. He then tells her he won't let her see the boy after all, and she returns home desolate. Stepmother decides it's time to head to the family plantation. When they arrive though, she learns of Inez's dastardly plans. Seems Inez has 'discovered' that Marisa's mother wasn't actually her father's 1st wife, but a quadroon slave, the same woman who was Marisa's nurse. The story, which may or may not be true, is that when the wife's baby died, Marisa was passed off as the daughter instead, having been born at nearly the same time. Since her mother in this version of events was a slave, though she had light skin, well, that makes Marisa a slave as well. Inez quickly sells her off before any scandal can arise, and Marisa is shipped off for some more abuse. Dom ends up buying her, and to work off the money he had to borrow to do so, he is sent into New Spain to capture wild horses. He takes her along, but leaves her alone until one ni9ght she decides she can't take it anymore, and she sorta seduces him. This begins a new chapter of sorts for them, and they actually start to talk and get to know each other and all that good stuff. She even realizes she's in love with him. Ok, I'll interrupt my narration here to say that amazingly, I grew to like Dom in this part of the book. All up to this I hated him, but here he shows his human side and I'm almost ashamed to say I kinda liked him. So yea, they capture the horses and prepare to head back. Alas, Don P. has decided he'd like to kill Dom and his troops are heading to their encampment to capture the American spies. Dom decides he has to send Marisa away so she won't get killed, and since he was adopted by a Comanche tribe he tells her to go with them and they'll ransom her off to the gov't of New Spain, but she has to be raped by a member of the tribe first, it's a rule. OF course she argues about the decision and he decides to do the rapin' himself in front of his men and the natives, and then off she goes with the Comanche, where she's ransomed to kind Capitan Higuera who takes her to San Antonio to stay in the convent she'd been at before when traveling with her uncle. Word is sent to her uncle in Mexico City, but it'll be months before he can get to her. Marisa is desolate, believing Dom was killed by the Spanish troops. Having learned it was Don P. who led them, she vows revenge. She becomes Higuera's lover, as well as to the governor, in order to get Don P. called to San Antonio. He comes, bringing a tortured group of captured Americans with him. She plans to kill him, but when he tells her he has Dom, and she sees for herself his battered condition, she has to save him. She pleads with Higuera and the gov' but they tell her nothing can be done. Then Don P. says that if she marries him, he'll arrange to look the other way while Dom escapes, but if she refuses, he'll torture him some more. Having discovered earlier that she's again pregnant with Dom's baby, she agrees. He takes her to the dungeon to see him, and in a power-trip a-hole move, Don P. throws her down and tries to rape her with Dom chained up to watch. Before he succeeds though, Higuera comes in and fights with Don P., and Dom trips him, causing him to fall down one of those really deep torture holes and die. But there's still nothing to be done to save Dom from his sentence, at least until her uncle arrives with the viceroy and his sentence is nulled due to the fact that Marisa is carrying his child, as well as her uncle's position. Their son is sent for along with Selma, and they are remarried and set off with her uncle to start anew in California, where their new son is born.
Ok, so this was a hard book to like. But I did... sort of, really only once I got to the last third of the story. The first two-thirds was just hard to take the abuse. I think Dom did learn to be a bit of a better man by the end of the book, but it was a hell of a battle. Took starvation, torture, and more torture to get him to realize 'Hey, maybe I shoulda been a li'l nicer to Marisa'. My problem wasn't with the author's writing, the book was well-written, and the plot and such made me want to keep reading, but it was just the barrage on the poor heroine! I'm not sure if I'll try anymore in this series or not... it's a hesitant maybe. But definitely not for a good long while. I need to let this one fade a little. I'll definitely be reading something lighter to cheer myself back up after reading this.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by ShoSho (new)

ShoSho This book sounds awful! How did you get through it?

message 2: by Lisa Kay (new)

Lisa Kay You need to cheer yourself up? Really!

Carol Storm What an amazing review! I've never seen such a perfect plot summary of one of my all-time favorites. You were right about Dom the Dick. The thing that saves this book, IMHO, is that so many of the minor characters are really fascinating. Her aunt, the desert sheikh, her slave Lalie, the Spanish governor . . . there are a lot of people whose stories get told, and some of them are genuinely kind to Marisa and interesting people in their own right!

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