The year is 1780 and we’re on book 3 of The Wildes of Lindow Castle by Eloisa James, Born to Be Wilde (Avon). The Wildes are an extraordinary extended family:  eccentric, outrageous, loving and full of joy. They are the perfect reflection of rambunctious Georgian high society. The Wildes are an utter delight.

Born to be Wilde is the story of Parth Sterling, adoptive son and brother to the Wilde clan, and Miss Lavinia Gray, a beauty who believes herself to be an heiress until she discovers that her mother’s criminal behaviour has ruined the family.  Lavinia and Parth have always had a prickly relationship but when Lavinia needs to find a rich husband she proposes to Parth, only to be rejected. Parth’s counter-offer is that he will find a suitable husband for her, a process that only serves to show him that he actually wants Lavinia for himself.

This is a story about self-discovery. Both Lavinia and Parth learn about themselves and about each other as the story progresses. Parth has the reputation for being able to solve any problem but Lavinia shakes his certainties. She surprises him, she challenges him.  He’s forced to discard the plan he has for an amiable marriage to a lovely Italian Contessa because he not only desires Lavinia but he starts to understand her passions and realises that far from being a frivolous fashionista, she’s a sharp businesswoman.

Lavinia is a very interesting character. Her self-confidence has been hit by the discovery that her place in society as a beautiful heiress has gone. She no longer knows who she is. First she finds a way forward by harnessing her passion for fashion. This gives her back her self-worth and she is then in a position to demand the same respect from Parth. The process by which Lavinia and Parth start to understand each other and strip away the assumptions and prejudices they hold about each other is deeply emotional and beautifully written, full of insight. I loved them both and desperately wanted them to be happy.

Added richness and texture is brought to the book by the rest of the Wilde family in all their glory.  We get to find out what happens next for Diana and North, the hero and heroine of Too Wilde to Wed, there’s an intriguing encounter between Betsy, the eldest Wilde daughter and a dark and damaged war hero, and best of all, we’re treated to more wit and wisdom from Lady Knowe, the Duke’s sister, who is the sort of aunt we’d all like to have. The dialogue is diamond sharp and sparkling and a scene at Vauxhall Gardens with some rope-walkers in tight pantaloons makes the book worth picking up for that alone. Throw in some fascinating detail about Georgian fashions and you have a truly great book.  Born to be Wilde is witty and sexy and utterly charming. I’m running to order the rest of the series!

Born to be Wilde will be available to purchase July 31st.

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Eloisa James is a New York Times bestselling author and professor of English literature who lives with her family in New York, but can sometimes be found in Paris or Italy. She is the mother of two and, in a particularly delicious irony for a romance writer, is married to a genuine Italian knight.

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