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Reviewed by Amanda Rofe for Readers' Favorite
The Wicked Cousin by Stella Riley is Book 4 in the Rockliffe series. A family saga set in eighteenth-century England, it is a tale of the trials and tribulations of Sebastian Audley. Having spent several years touring Europe and keeping rumours alive with his scandalous exploits, word finally reaches society that he is to return to London. He becomes a hot topic with the ladies but Cassandra Delahaye, a distant cousin of Audley's, is not so impressed. Cousin Audley, who attempts to leave his feckless past behind, tries to keep the ladies at bay. It is a thankless task and he becomes the object of desire for one former lover who will not take no for an answer.
The rather formal cover of The Wicked Cousin belies a wonderful and lively account of the English aristocracy in the eighteenth century. Respectability is the order of the day and anyone deviating from society's expectations is severely frowned upon. Stella Riley writes a novel of sheer indulgence, providing a rich and vivid tale of a man's reputation lost and won. There is a generous smattering of masculine wagers involving fisticuffs, sword fights and pistols drawn. The women appear delicate in their elegant gowns, but they are strong of mind. They both abide by societal restrictions and also take delight in breaking them. The book is full of sharp-witted dialogue with an eclectic mix of characters. It positively seethed with an undercurrent of sexual tension which held my attention to the very end. This was an absolute delight to read and I shall definitely be seeking out more of Stella Riley's books in the future.