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REVIEW: Something Wicked by Kalen Hughes

Dear Ms. Hughes,

Yes, I’d heard of your name but I’d not truly looked into your books nor read any reviews of them. Now that I’ve read this freebie you sent me and have posted at your website, that’ll change.

I have to say that the description of the novella doesn’t exactly match up to what I read. I didn’t get the feeling that Eleanor thought her card game wagers with Viscount Wroxton were desperate. More that both were bored with penny stakes and the fact that the weekly games they played, in the presence of their mothers no less, seemed to be heading into the same-old, same-old territory. So, a little spice, a little daring, a little…something wicked was seen by both as a way to liven things up.

I like that both know their increasingly daring wagers are headed beyond the pale; no one’s a spring chicken or naive newcomer here. They know what the rules are and that they’re breaking them. I like that Eleanor keeps Wroxton guessing about her interest in him. I like that he has a healthy respect for her father and five brothers. I like the period feel and that you don’t rush the story though the ending was a tad abrupt.

As a appetizer, I think the novella works very well. It has sparked my interest and made me eager to try your full length novels. Jane has written posts about how give aways and freebies can increase sales. Here is a perfect example of that. B

~Jayne

You can download Something Wicked for free at Kalen Hughes’ website.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

17 Comments

  1. Ana
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 05:43:55

    Hey Jayne

    both Lord Sin and Lord Scandal are really good. They have a different feel from any other romance novels I read of late, with very daring characters. I also loved the period setting and the research mrs Hughes has done for her books.

    You mention that you haven’t read any reviews of them: the Smart Bitches recently did a review of both books which prompted me to read and review Lord Sin myself.

    Hope you do give these books a go and review them here.

  2. Estara
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 07:38:29

    Now that’s handy: Since I read that Kalen Hughes loves P.C. Hodgell on this site (in one of her comments) I was interested in the lady, visited her website, was impressed by the historical facts and various good things I had heard.

    I ordered Lord Sin and am just starting it today, and after the first ten pages I have already ordered Lord Scandal. I love a good 18th century romance (although my measuring stick remains These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer, which starts of in pre-revolutionary France, quite a bit earlier).

    Serendipitious to read this review right after I ordered Lord Scandal from Amazon, heh ^^

  3. Jayne
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 07:52:24

    Ana, when I’d finished this novella, I hadn’t read either of her books. Since then, I’ve read Lord Sin and am currently working up my review of it. It’s good stuff.

  4. Jayne
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 08:00:03

    Estara, though I like These Old Shades, I have to say my favorite Heyer Georgian era books are The Black Moth and The Masqueraders. Heck I even prefer Powder and Patch though I know the heroine is a silly goose. The transformation of the hero is so much fun and I love his valet.

  5. Ana
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 09:13:23

    Excellent! Can’t wait to read your thoughts on Lord Sin!

  6. Estara
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 13:57:53

    Jayne, The Masqueraders I can agree with ^^, but as far as I remember the villain of the Black Moth got renamed for These Old Shades and is the hero (then of course we get The Devil’s Cub with his son and An Infamous Army with his granddaughter). I guess it’s the only family saga Heyer ever wrote ^^.

  7. Jayne
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 15:55:48

    Yes, TBM villain does get repackaged as the Duke of Avon. And for the most part, I love him in either book. But there’s one aspect to TOS that drives me bat shitty. It’s

    S
    P
    O
    I
    L
    E
    R
    S

    for those who haven’t read the book

    the idea that somehow Leonie has some innate sort of gentility. She has long tapered fingers, flies into tantrums and otherwise acts high strung so she therefore must be of the upper classes. It’s not the way she’s been raised – I could understand it if that was the reasoning behind it – but something in the blood. It pissed me off when I first read it and still does on any reread.

    I wondered if the era in which Heyer wrote the book (1926) did play a role in how she wrote these issues. But I also felt that it probably was close to the actual feelings of the Georgian age. One was born a worthy aristocrat or one wasn’t. If one wasn’t, one was a member of the great unwashed and therefore unworthy. I could easily see the Revolution growing out of the way the class system was then.

    And just to totally “about face” myself, I don’t feel that I would have acted any differently had I lived in that age. It would be what I grew up with and knew. I hate faux PC-ishness in books. However, it was hard to read though from a modern viewpoint.

    To the barricades!

  8. SonomaLass
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 16:21:34

    I read Something Wicked as a free download, which I found when I was checking out the author’s web site because one of her books was in the DABWAHA tournament. I enjoyed the novella enough to put her other books on my TBR list.

    Anyone from the industry tracking these things should see what’s up here. Reader/reviewer web sites generate interest and spread the word about authors, and free downloads lead directly to sales. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

  9. Lynne
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 17:30:49

    Jayne, that’s one of my biggest problems with TOS. They’re wayyy too hung up on Leonie being noble. Bleh.

  10. Kalen Hughes
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 10:54:58

    Ok, I’m going to have a moment of total spazzy *SQUEE* here (you all know I’m a lurker here anyway). I’m so glad to see you enjoyed SW (I agree that it’s too short, but I wrote it as an Amazon Short, only to discover they canceled the program!). Maybe someday I'll expand it into a full novel . . . I've had quite a few emails requesting just that, LOL!

    And any comparisons ever made to Heyer are A) probably accurate and B) make me a happy girl. I've read her books over and over, and her Georgian books simply ARE 18th century England in my head. I don't lift directly (except that my characters do have “capacious pockets” and I love the word “puce”), but the influence is undeniable.

  11. Aoife
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 10:55:28

    the idea that somehow Leonie has some innate sort of gentility. She has long tapered fingers, flies into tantrums and otherwise acts high strung so she therefore must be of the upper classes. It's not the way she's been raised – I could understand it if that was the reasoning behind it – but something in the blood. It pissed me off when I first read it and still does on any reread.

    I think of this as The Princess and the Pea myth of the aristocracy, and TOS is far from the only place it pops up in Romance–in fact, I would say it’s an integral part of the genre. It’s annoying, and silly, but I rank it up there with Virgin Widows, Chicks in Britches, and Skanky Villain Sex in my personal list of Things that Require Major Suspension of Disbelief.

    Thanks for the review of Something Wicked, I think I’ll give it a try.

  12. Estara
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 13:13:59

    @ Jayne and Aoife: you’re both right, I never considered that though because I felt it was part of the mindset of the time – I also never had a problem with Leonie being so much younger than the Duke, because that was also not untypical at the time – my Syrian grandmother was married at 13 years of age, my Dad tells me, and she must have had about 15 children, of which around 12 lived to adulthood.
    My dad visited a brother in Kairo once when he must have been around… 55 and the brother was in his 80ies, I believe.

    So that’s not so outlandish even these days ( I never asked whether she was happy with that, she WAS the unquestioned matriarch of the family though – her second husband having been dead since the 50ies).

    @ Kalen: I believe in giving praise where praise is due ^^, your work is quite able to speak for itself

  13. Jayne
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 17:16:58

    Aoife, I agree that TOS isn’t the only book with the ‘innate gentility’ thing going but I also recall how much —

    ooops

    more

    spoilers for

    These Old Shades

    the adopted lower class son was denigrated and sneered at because he grew up to be a boorish oaf interested in farming, – quelle horreur! – but then what can one expect when a peasant is raised up beyond his station in life? The combo of this plus Leonie bridling like a Thoroughbred on speed went overboard for me.

  14. Vanessa
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 21:50:00

    Crawling out of lurkdom to say that I just downloaded and read this, and it’s pretty freaking excellent. I agree with thinking that the end was a shade abrupt, but that is the only bad thing I can think of. And that’s only bad because I wanted to read so much more about the couple. Count me in with people who have been convinced to buy a book because of a free short, I’m definitely going to look for Lord Sin and Lord Scandal when I hit Borders tomorrow.

  15. Aoife
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 08:35:14

    spoilers for

    These Old Shades

    the adopted lower class son was denigrated and sneered at because he grew up to be a boorish oaf interested in farming, – quelle horreur! – but then what can one expect when a peasant is raised up beyond his station in life? The combo of this plus Leonie bridling like a Thoroughbred on speed went overboard for me.

    Jayne, I certainly don’t disagree with you. It’s not an attitude you see much of in more recently written books, is it? Or perhaps the attitude is expressed a little more carefully, I’m not sure.

    Estara, I can’t say that the age difference ever bothered me much, probably because, like you, I knew quite a few couples who had very successful marriages in spite of (or because of?)similar age gaps.

    And, I very much enjoyed Something Wicked.

  16. Jayne
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 08:52:03

    So there you go new/wannabe authors. Put up some freebie shorts/novellas on your websites and see if you can get some interest sparking. I know when people contact us at DA, offering their books for us to review, one of the first things a lot of us do is head to their websites to see if we can read any excerpts to gve us an idea of whether or not that author’s writing style will work for us.

  17. Jia
    Aug 15, 2008 @ 17:45:44

    Another observation for new/wannabe authors: If you carry yourself with humor and grace on the internet, you just might get me interested in your work.

    After Hughes’s hilarious comments in the recent merfolk & selkie reviews, I went to her website and downloaded this short story. Because I enjoyed it, I intend to look for her books now. I really liked Eleanor and Wroxton. They just had a different feel as characters that I loved, and I hope the characters from her full-length novels have a similar quality too.

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