I have become more than wanton. I am decadent.
When She Said I Do (Worthington #1) (by Celeste Bradley)
Conflict: Beauty & the Beast, Insta-marriage
I have waited for this book
So, this book is important to me, and be ready for immediate fan-girling.
If you are a massive fan of Celeste Bradley’s Liar’s Club series, there is no NOT reading this book.
You are picking it up because you know how important (understatement) Ren’s story is...
How big of a deal is this? Let me put it this way:
This would be like NOT reading Zsadist’s story in the Black Dagger Brotherhood.
J.R. Ward fans would be thinking, “What’s up with this one scarred guy?” and then after waiting over a decade, we get Lover Awakened.
Yeah. It’s that serious.
Despite inhaling When She Said I Do (WSSID), it took me too frickin’ long to even get to this post - because I had to go back into all my Liar’s Club books, and glean for ANY little Ren-bits.
I need more Ren! (And I had to get my sleep cycle back to normal.)
Ren Porter is the “scarred hero”, except we didn't know anything about him. Even what we learn in WSSID is still a tad limited. The intro starts off all “Beauty and the Beast-y” where Callie and her family have to crash/squat in Ren’s massive mansion (because their carriage crashes into the stream nearby - again, awesome description and action writing from Celeste Bradley). Callie decides to snoop through his stuff, so she tries on a bunch of jewelry, and he surprises her (yup, there’s a boob grab within the first twelve pages) - but Callie’s older brother finds them, and “don’t touch my sister”, and family honor, etc. - so Callie offers to marry Ren in order to save her brother in a duel. Duel scene! YUSSSSS! *fist pump*
Ren and Callie get married, and they both presume that the other will be unhappy in the marriage. The chemistry is there (dying to tear each other's clothes off in the kinkiest of ways), but they are awkward about consummating their marriage - (mostly due to Ren’s angst - very much a tortured-hero).
So he offers the following kinky bargain: He gives her a pearl for every kinky demand/desire to fulfill (hundreds of pearls from a necklace that she tried on) and when his supply runs out, she keeps all the pearls; however, they both silently decide that she will most likely leave the house (and possibly divorce him?) with all her “pearl” money, which could easily take care of her and her modest family. He's thinking she doesn't love him, and she's thinking that he doesn't love her.
Not only are there passionate/angsty/kinky romance scenes, but bonding friendships and hilarious flirty pranks ensue throughout the pages - with brilliant detail and narration that makes me love Celeste Bradley’s books *so* damn much!
Things I loved: (exclamation points for everything!)
- Surprise sexy bathtub scene! (Lots of kinky steamy scenes - again, don't let the pink pretty cover fool you. She's smirking at us for a reason.)
- The poison crystallized ginger plot gone awry!
- Knowing the hero is socially awkward and then inviting the whole village over for a masquerade ball. Awesome!
- Button! - He’s fabulous! I knew I loved him from the previous books, but reading him in a stronger “supporting character” capacity made my heart sing so many times. He truly is the best fairy godmother. Button made it especially easy to drop everything after finishing a book, and return to the previous books in a series - and this was JUST to find more Button scenes (and the Ren scenes, too, which are much more rare!)... He reminds me of Simon McBurney’s somewhat flippant/flamboyant archdeacon character from the British TV show Rev.
- A quick peek of the Liar’s Club! - in other books, I normally feel like it's just whatever - but this time, I LOVED seeing favorite characters from the previous books.
- The Villains! Celeste Bradley did it right. Betrice and her goon were just suspenseful enough to keep me turning the pages, and I would freak out every time they showed up. Betrice is like the poorer and not-as-clever version of Victoria Grayson from ABC’s Revenge - and her psychotic goon is like that ex-CIA agent guy (Frank) who was OBSESSED with Victoria - yeah, that’s what Betrice and her goon have. Even when we first meet Betrice, we know she’s got some skeletons in her closet and she’s bitter as all hell in her miserable marriage. It’s nail-biting to read her acting so fake towards Callie and Ren when we know she can’t be trusted.
- Narration! - Jumping POVs with one third-person narrator = BEST! (Think like George R.R. Martin’s Fire and Ice saga!)
- This line: “She’d seen illustrations, of course, and one couldn’t live with six men without stumbling across the odd penis.”
- Historically appropriate swearing: “Sweet Charlotte’s arse!” and “Great George’s balls!”
Why do I empathize with the heroine: Callie takes care of her whole family (twins, brothers, sisters, parents, etc.) - so it’s actually quite a relief that she finally gets a moment to “relax” - and not be the caretaker, maid, teacher, nurse, mother, sister, servant to everyone else. She finally gets to be herself and pursue her own interests. I found her family to be pretty annoying (except for her genius brother and her youngest sister) and even when Ren gets frustrated with them being SO annoying, Callie still does a good job of sticking by them. Regarding Callie’s sexual awakening in this book, the quid-pro-quo pearl sex games work really well for the plot because Callie is so independent and happy/eager to explore her sexuality. So well done.
Overall: This just wraps up my Liar’s Club series so nicely. *sigh* That sad feeling you get when it’s all done. I had that. It took a while to get back to my normal reading groove, and I visiting with the rest of the Liar’s Club helped...
I marked down my calendar for the next book in the Worthington series! And Then Comes Marriage (Worthington #2) - Castor’s story! July 30th - so almost five months to go...
July. Get here.