Thrift stores are rather awesome, and not just because you can get gently used clothes and furniture on the cheap. They also tend to have a corner devoted to various types of media, with books, VHS tapes, battered DVDs, and scratched CDs all piled together. I love rummaging through thrift store books, because sometimes, under the Readers’ Digest condensed versions and scads of romance paperbacks with scantily clad heroes and heroines in fond embrace – I find a little treasure. And one of those, purchased for a quarter a few years ago, is The Wicked Marquis.
This isn’t a book of high adventure or intensity, but it’s a fabulous go-to for a happy, relaxing, funny little story. This definitely has echoes of Georgette Heyer, with a strong-minded but lovable heroine who is determined to rescue her cousin from a marriage of convenience (but no love), and in doing so, embroils herself with the Wicked Marquis himself. It’s one of those wonderful little stories where there isn’t really a villain, where misunderstandings are minimal, and where you know that everything will come together in the end for a happy ending.
Esme is a wonderful protagonist. She is intelligent, interesting, and contented with her lot in life. She isn’t afraid to stand up for the people she loves, but never comes across as obnoxious or ridiculous. And despite the fact that she is adventurous and not particularly fussed about all of the societal regulations, she’s still feminine and even girly at times, enjoying a good chat about clothes and handsome young men.
All in all, I definitely recommend The Wicked Marquis, with a strong 4/5 rating. And despite the fact that I’ve owned this book for several years and have read it several times, this was the first time that I bothered to find out if Ellingson wrote anything else. I did find one of her books on eBay secondhand, and hope to read Unwilling Bride soon, although not in public, as the cover is absolutely ridiculous.