Thursday, January 24, 2008

Wicked; Shannon Drake

Wicked was written by Shannon Drake (aka Heather Graham) and published by HQN in 2005. Click link in title to see a list of other titles published under the Drake nom de plume. To my knowledge this is the first title by Ms. Drake I’ve read. Then again, my memory is like a sieve, so who knows? This isn’t intended as a slur on Ms. Drake, simply a comment about my own shortcomings. To me Wicked is a gothic Beauty and the Beast style romance.

W is set in late 19th century Britain. Thematically it’s about trust and facing one’s past honestly, about the faces we wear in public and in private. About revenge and resolution. Quite a lot for a gothic romance. IMO.

Camille Montgomery has finally landed a job working at the British Museum in the Egyptology section. A job she and her little family desperately need to keep themselves afloat. Camille has been raised on the very outer edges of the lower middle class by a man who found sitting beside her mother’s lifeless body. Camille loves her job and her guardian with all her heart and wants nothing more than to help provide a bit of stability for them by her employment. Tristan, her guardian, feels like a failure since no man worth his salt permits a woman in his household to work outside the home.

Brian Stirling, Earl of Carlyle, is a man with a one track mind: justice for his parents, whom he believes have been murdered by those they trusted. To the world he is known simply as The Beast- a man whose face and form and personality have been irretrievably warped by the death of his parents and the ancient Egyptian curse they invoked.

The jist of the story- Camille’s guardian intrudes on Carlyle’s estate. Carlyle decides to use him as a hostage to ensure Camille’s cooperation while Carlyle plots to unveil the murderer. Meantime Carlyle and Camille fall in love. Is Carlyle what he seems? Or is he obsessed with vengeance (as opposed to justice)? Will he succeed or fail? Can Camille be kept safe in the meantime?

I enjoyed the book although I was a bit disappointed that the beast aspect was downplayed. I also feel that the emotional growth and depth I anticipated was sacrificed for the air of menace. Which was quite well done BTW. Reading Wicked felt like watching an old black and white suspense movie. You know the heroine is just asking for trouble with every move she makes, especially the candlelit trips down the secret passageway after the hero tells her to stay in her room for her own safety. Yet you know that no matter what else happens, she will be rescued in the end.

Not a keeper, but well worth my time and money. Image found at

1 comment:

CindyS said...

I read Shannon Drake years and years ago and I wanted to grab her heroes and throw them off the nearest cliff. I figure she's come a long way since then ;) And I've been tempted to try her again.