I wanted to like this book because I liked the characters. Well, most of the characters. But Wicked Lovely has a lousy villain, and a plot centered all around said villain. The bigger crime of this book lies in the cover, which proclaims “Enter a world of faery romance.” In fact, there is absolutely nothing the faery king, Keenan, does that could be considered even slightly romantic. That’s because he’s not courting the main character, Ash, because he loves her. He’s doing it because if he doesn’t, THE WHOLE WORLD WILL DIE.
WHY? Why must a freaking romance novel eschew all pretense of romance in favor of a plot that MAKES NO SENSE. And why must a romance book about fae go all the way to a plot about saving the world just to build tension? I… *deep breaths. I need to calm down.
Okay, I’m going to list what I liked. I liked Ash, and I liked that Ash already had a great guy who had been courting her long term. I liked how their relationship developed, and I give kudos to the writer for covering oral sex, even in the coy way in which she did. I liked Keenan, at first. But the more desperate he gets about saving the world, the stupider his ideas are. It’s like he’s the dumb teenager, and Ash is the millennium-old fae.
But the whole reason all of these characters are interacting is because Keenan’s mother, Beira, has seen one too many Disney movies and thought, “I could be a villain too.” Her plot is stupid, and frankly pathetic, and because her plot is the only reason all of this is happening, it strips away all the great possible conflicts that could have come through these same characters and a different motivation for their actions. But having a crappy cardboard cutout standing in place of a plot is still a plot device.
Also, what is the deal with YA and their unhealthy fixation on preserving virginity until one is 17? I used to read penny porn as a teen, and there was this recurring plot were a girl just turns 18 and becomes hot to trot. We can all agree that’s ridiculous, and this books tries to address the cliche by giving Ash a boyfriend, Seth. But he’s not sexually active with her despite his being a “player” and them being together 7 months. Why? Because Ash is worried about keeping their relationship “pure.” If this wasn’t bad enough, with two separate subplots, Ash is made to worry about whether or not she’s still a virgin, and this is the best the writer could come up with for tension, apparently.
That’s why, with a broken heart, I give Wicked Lovely 2 stars, and would recommend that romance fans avoid it because there’s not a whiff of romance anywhere in the story. The closest the book came to a romantic scene, the author “fades to black” and then implies with one coy sentence what an awesome cunnilinguist Seth is. Oh, be still my Puritan heart.
The romance label is false advertising from the publisher, in my opinion, and I will not bother picking up the next book in the series. I also wouldn’t suggest this book to anyone, unless they just had to have a complete collection of texts on faeries.