One Wicked Thing by Margaret Rowe is an incredibly hot, addictive tale of love and passion set during the Regency era in England. I was drawn into the author's world and completely captivated by the characters and her writing style. I read this in one sitting; I found it impossible to put the book down.
Sebastian Goddard is a fantastic character. At the start of this story he's 21 years old and has just come back to England after a 2 year tour of the continent. Sebastian isn't happy to be home; he doesn't have a good relationship with his father, the Duke of Roxbury, and hates to see his father squandering money on old castles and scholarly research. Sebastian does enjoy seeing his childhood friend, Fredericka Wells, his father's secretary's daughter. Sebastian has some bad habits, he's proud and full of himself, he's incapable of understanding his father and he occasionally uses opium as a means of diversion. Leaving his father's masquerade party, he chooses to indulge with opium in a secluded area of the castle. He's surprised to be interrupted by an enchanting "milkmaid" and engages her in a sexual liaison. He didn't planning on being caught in flagrante by his father and his father's secretary. Who have their own secrets. He's completely shocked when it's discovered that his "milkmaid" is none other than Fredericka. When accusations are made that can't be unsaid, Sebastian leaves. He proceeds to engage in a life of debauchery which leads to earning the nickname, Lord of Sin.
Fredericka Wells is a great female character; she's young, intelligent and deeply in love with her best friend. She's used to being a sidekick and knows Sebastian doesn't see her as a woman, something she's desperate to change. She devises a plan to seduce her friend and hopes it will lead to a marriage proposal. She's completely surprised when her plan goes awry and secrets are revealed that could destroy lives. When Sebastian takes off for the continent again, Fredericka is left behind to pick up the pieces. She chooses to become a scholar and follow in her father's footsteps. She begins to help Sebastian's father with his research and takes over running Goddard Castle.
Ten years pass and Sebastian becomes the new Duke of Roxbury upon his father's death. He's appalled to discover the estate is in ruins due to his father's poor money management skills. He's also surprised to discover that Fredericka is now his ward and has money of her own. Sebastian is still angry over the events that occurred ten years ago and he plans to sell Goddard Castle and release Fredericka from his care. He didn't plan to be enchanted with the grown up Fredericka or on receiving her offer to become his mistress for a period of thirty one days, in exchange for selling the castle to her. Fredericka agrees to give him license to do "any wicked thing". Sebastian takes up the challenge thinking his "dark and unusual" sexual demands will give him revenge for her part in his past and force her into agreeing to his plans. He never thought Fredericka would be an avid sexual pupil and didn't realize that he would learn to love her.
Ms. Rowe did a fantastic job creating the scenes between Sebastian and Fredericka. They are incredibly passionate people who have tremendous chemistry. Their dialogue is witty and can be somewhat bawdy in parts, which makes the story hotter. Their affair is both tender and burning hot. Fredericka has never fallen out of love with Sebastian, she does occasionally get very angry with him though and it's rewarding to see the woman she's become confront him. As Sebastian finds himself falling in love with Fredericka, he fears she will discover a deep and dark secret that could destroy him. He finds it incredibly hard to trust anyone.
The secondary characters in the story are great. I especially liked Warren, the aging butler at Goddard Castle, who thinks of Fredericka as a daughter and Mrs. Holloway, the cook at Goddard Castle, who has become somewhat of a surrogate mother to Fredericka. We also get to meet Cameron "Cam" Ryder, Sebastian's best friend and the only person who knows all of his secrets. Cam is an important character in more ways than one.
The story does take some twists and turns as there is a hidden fortune in Goddard Castle and a tie between Cam and the castle's history. Ms. Rowe did a great job of balancing all of the open storylines and moving the plot at a really good pace. I also liked how each chapter started with a line from either Fredericka or Sebastian's diary; it's a clue to where they are emotionally. The ending is very well done and leaves Fredericka and Sebastian in a great place and with a bright future. I look forward to reading more of this author's work.
Ten years ago Sebastian Goddard, heir to the duke of Roxbury, had a night of reckless passion and was betrayed by his oldest friend Fredericka Wells. Devastated, he embarked on a new life of debauchery that earned him the nickname Lord of Sin.
Now Sebastian has returned to find his estate in ruins, and Freddie more seductive than ever. He's determined to pay her back in spades. But Freddie makes him an offer...she'll be his mistress for a month if he'll consent to sell her Goddard Castle.
Sebastian plans to scandalize Freddie-to tease her every desire and leave her wanting. But his fiery-willed lover soon teaches him the past may not be what it seemed.