Overall Rating: 3 + ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Can two people from two very different backgrounds find love? Even more, can they find it while entrenched in the aftermath of a mysterious death? These are the questions of Vivian Wood’s and Amelia Wilde’s newest book, Wicked Games, released today, June 4th.
This story follows Emily and Wolf, two very different people. Emily is a foster child who has grown up in poverty. She has worked very hard to achieve her dream: attend a prestigious school like Campbell College. Her life has revolved around achievement as a means to overcome her impoverished lifestyle. In contrast, Wolf Astor comes from a storied, legacy family at Campbell College. His family is wealthy, and they have expectations for his future. Their differences are highlighted from the start of the story, and it causes much of the initial strife between them, even though they are seriously attracted to each other. Their strife is set in another part of the story of Wicked Games: the death of Wolf’s friend, Asher, both of whom are part of a secret society, the Skulls and Thorns. Wolf’s attraction to Emily causes his distance from her initially because he is trying to keep her safe from the danger surrounding the Skulls and Thorns. Unfortunately, his attraction to her is too much, and he makes decisions that put both of them in danger. Who killed Asher? Can Wolf protect Emily from the killer, or will his interest in her lead to her demise? Even more, will Wolf and Emily find their HEA as they come from two very different worlds? Wicked Games tries to answer all of these questions.
I’ve been a fan of Vivian Wood for some time. I read her dark romances (you can read my reviews of them on my blog, Professor Romance on WordPress), and I loved her characterizations and the ensuing drama of those books.
And I love New Adult romances. I’ve recently read several of them, and they take me back to the time in my life when I was the age of the characters. Ah memories…
However, I struggled with Wicked Games. But let me tell you what I loved about it first:
- I love the camaraderie of the women who surround Emily, namely Cassandra. Yes, there are some “mean girl” moments. I mean, Emily is attending a university of the wealthy, and she is not a woman of means. It is bound to be an issue in this type of story. However, Wood and Wilde give her women who support her and help her adjust. The last chapter of this book is lovely as they surround with love and help her realize her place at Campbell College. It’s a fitting end to Emily’s story.
- I do think Wolf and Emily have great readable chemistry. It’s very clear, and it makes for some lovely $exual tension. Isn’t that what we all love to read in a romance?
- I think the romantic suspense part of the romance keeps the reader engaged. Wilde and Woods don’t give away the killer too soon in the story, and they build up to it so that the reader stays engaged. It is a surprise when it is revealed. I’m sure readers will figure it out sooner than later, but I don’t think the secret is too obvious.
Now, I had a few struggles with Wicked Games, and this is the reason I gave it my rating:
- While Emily and Wolf have great chemistry, there are so many moments of confusion within their story. Their internal thoughts oftentimes don’t match their actions. Normally, I would give the author a bit of leeway on it, but there were too many inconsistencies for me.
- I didn’t see Emily’s distinction between Wolf and Max. Quite frankly, she could have ended up with either one of them, and this reader would have been fine with her decision. When I read a love triangle, I want there to be a distinctive forerunner. I don’t believe Woods and Wilde built that distinction enough, at least that’s my read of it.
- I thought Emily gave up her V- card way too easily. For someone who had so much internal fortitude throughout much of the story, that action did not match her personality.
- There were still so many questions in the story. Yes, there is an extended epilogue with Wolf and Emily, but it creates more questions than answers. The ending of Wicked Games, while sentimental for Emily, left so many questions about Wolf. It wasn’t fulfilling in terms of the overall story.
Wicked Games is a New Adult romantic suspense with a HEA for Emily and Wolf. I have to be honest, though. I wanted to like it more. It is set to have all of the elements of a strong romantic suspense: mystery, intrigue, and $exual chemistry. Overall, I liked Emily and Wolf, but I’m not sure that I loved their story. I think I simply needed a bit more development.
In love and romance,