Format Read: e-book provided by the author
Number of Pages: 335 pages
Release Date: February 5th 2013
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Formats Available: e-book, Kindle Edition
Purchasing Info: Goodreads | Publisher | Amazon | B&N | Kobo
He’ll protect her with every vicious bone in his body.
During her ten years at the prestigious Waywroth Academy, Sera Miller clung to a strict code of propriety to shield herself from rumors that she isn’t an orphan at all. She’s a bastard. Now she wishes she had never allowed her friends to talk her into snooping into the mysterious source of her tuition.
Her benefactor isn’t the unknown father she dreamed of one day meeting, but Fletcher Thomas—underworld tycoon, gambling den owner, and a man so dangerously mesmerizing that he could spark the scandal Sera has worked so hard to avoid.
Fletcher is only two steps away from leaving the life of crime he inherited from his father. First he plans to join an aboveboard railroad consortium, then claim the one thing his ill-gotten gains have kept safe all these years—Sera.
With every wicked caress, Sera fights harder to remember society’s rules and reject the painful memories his touch resurrects. Accepting Fletcher’s love means accepting her past—a risk too great for a woman who has always lived in the shadows. No matter how safe she feels in his arms.
Warning: This book contains a do-gooder heroine, an accidentally charming hero with tendencies toward caveman-itis, inappropriate household décor and fabulous sex against a wall.
Anna: I think I have been anxiously waiting to read Wayward One ever since I first read its blurb. I mean I had just finished reading Lead and Follow which Lorelie Brown co-writes along with Carrie Lofty and I was just dying to read something Brown was writing alone. And Wayward One just seemed like the perfect book for me, regardless its author!
Stella: I haven’t read any books by either Lorelie Brown or Carrie Lofty so I had no expectations based on enjoyment of previous books by them, like you I was hooked when I read the blurb of Wayward One, but somehow the book didn’t resonate with me as much as I hoped based on its premise.
Anna: Something tells me Stella that our opinion of Wayward One will be pretty much the same, because I too had the same problem. Despite Wayward One being a story that was almost ideal for me, when I reached the end of the book I was left a bit unsatisfied and wondering what did I miss. (And btw you should definitely try Carrie’s books!)
Stella: Well my problem rose its head earlier at around 40% I struggled and put it down for weeks before picking it up again, so in my reading of the 2nd part I knew what I was getting myself into. (I will, and also their Katie Porter books, because I’m curious )
Anna: My problems rose even earlier I think, maybe after the first 80 or so pages where the story wasn’t really moving forward. Where the romance was completely flat and I couldn’t care about any of the characters. When I read enough chapters of a story and I can’t bring myself to care about the characters, I know I’m in trouble… (Oh and you should, they are amazing!)
Stella: Yeah, I had the same problem, but let’s structure a bit otherwise we’ll get lost in the details. So let’s start by the main ingredients of a romance: the hero and heroine.
Sadly I wasn’t blown away by the romance in Wayward One and it was due to the h/H. Fletcher and Sera shared part of their childhood up until when their respective parents died. Sera became an orphan at 10 and Fletcher took care of her education (albeit anonymously) by placing her in a respectable school for her to become a young lady that is all respectable and proper, so that she becomes the perfect wife for him, to elevate him from the world of slum and sin he grew up in. And herein lies a problem I’m still a bit queasy and confused about: He was 16-17 when he decided that one day he would marry this girl of his childhood, and throughout the novel it seemed to me that even though more than a decade has gone by, he still saw Sera as that young girl all that was pure and angelic, and not really the young woman she has grown into. (This is a recurring line between them when Sera denies being angelic and all that is good) And although Fletcher was a good man, he had a warm heart and morals (not just for things concerning Sera but he wouldn’t allow child prostitution, etc.), and yet this aspect of him not even wanting to get to know the woman his childhood friend has grown into disappointed me. Their relationship started out as a business transaction, arranged marriage, because Fletcher only saw in Sera the means to finally leave behind the dark underworld of gambling, bordellos and such, and that was disturbing to my romantic soul.
He’d put too much effort and consideration into her upbringing to let her dismiss him in such a high-handed manner. And the money. Not only the funds that had already gone into her schooling and her clothing. Where did she think her pin money came from? He’d practically made her. He wouldn’t let her throw it all away on becoming a drudge. A woman who took employment. Such a wife wouldn’t suit his ambitions in the least.
He hated to see investments go bad, and that’s exactly what she was. After the expensive school and dresses he’d financed, he refused to watch from afar as she put herself to work as some teaching drudge. He had bigger plans for their future.
Anna: Well, I hadn’t thought of it before, but now that you say it, the main reason the romance in Wayward One fell flat for me, are Fletcher and Sera. Until you mentioned it, I just knew that there was a problem with the romantic element of the story and thought that maybe I should blame the fact that I couldn’t connect to the characters or their story. But well, when you don’t connect with your characters it’s probably either because you don’t get them or because of the way they are portrayed. And in this case, I think it’s a little bit of both.
I couldn’t get Sera at all, the way she kept Fletcher at distance seemed a little bit fake, a bit forced, like it was just a twist to keep the story longer or add a little bit drama and not make everything so easy and as for Fletcher, like you said I just couldn’t fathom how he knew that a child would become the perfect wife for him. And coming to think about it, it’s a little bit disturbing….
Stella: Yes, and there is the other main problem, Sera herself. She wasn’t a heroine I could like. She started out too rigid, proper and tried to maintain her composure and live life as society deemed it acceptable (her reason for this was seeing what living life according to one’s dreams and basic urges did to her mother who lived in ruin and worked as a prostitute), but as you say she didn’t seem credible to me, her forced rigidity made her a frustrating and kind of spoiled heroine, and at these times I really felt that Fletcher deserved someone better, who would consider his feelings and open herself up to him. She closed herself off and only gave him slivers.
Anna: I don’t know about you, but her reasoning was forced at best. Maybe not if one phrases it like you did but it certainly felt that way while reading the book. I mean, I can’t agree more with learning from other’s mistakes, but while reading I felt like Sera didn’t really believe in that. Like she did it only because she should. Like I said, forced.
Stella: I completely agree, while her reason could have been something that would have made her choices acceptable, somehow it all lacked credibility, especially how she changed her views in a complete U-turn at the end to be able to deliver the requisite HEA…
So yes, sadly if the main storyline of the novel, the romance itself is flawed and not captivating enough to hold the readers’ interest then it’s a big problem… and I had a couple more as well…
Anna: Oh that abrupt change! I rolled a little bit my eyes there… But to be completely honest, I had already lost my interest by then, so I can’t say that I was really mad. I just didn’t really care if Sera would get her HEA or how.
Stella: The problem was that with Sera’s explanation why she lived her life based on those choices I couldn’t see an organic, natural resolution to their problem, only that Fletcher had to accept to only get a shallow part of her and be content with that. Yes, I didn’t believe that Sera deserved a HEA with such a man as Fletcher (despite her forced goodness I felt her very selfish and egocentric, and even cold hearted):
“I don’t care,” he admitted. “I’d like to go straight, yes. I’d like to be a part of better society than associating with slum lords, yes. But if I don’t… If I don’t, it won’t break me.”
Her whisper spun out like a thread of gold. “It might break me.” Implicit in that was everything she wasn’t saying. That what he could offer her—his protection and devotion, the very depths of himself—wasn’t enough. He’d given her everything, over years and years, and none of it was enough.
I only wanted Fletcher to be happy and since he needed her for that…
Even as he bent to kiss her, he had a look of near wonderment, with his pale eyes more starry than she’d ever seen. It wasn’t right that such a vital man be unmanned by her. She wasn’t worth it.
I so agree Sera!
Anna: Well, I think I had a bit more trouble with this story, because at least you wanted for Fletcher to get his HEA whereas I, still didn’t care. You see, when I read something that doesn’t really hold my attention, then I don’t invest emotionally in it. And when I don’t do that, I simply read, not caring much. I know it sounds harsh, but when I can’t connect with my characters, then I can’t “feel” them I’m afraid.
Stella: Fletcher is a very unusual and weird character. I couldn’t even say that he went through some character growth, only that we were shown different aspects and sides of him, but don’t know if all those sides form a credible whole. I mean he is a ruthless businessman in charge of shady business ventures, he wants to enter good society and leave this world behind, but then why doesn’t he do that? He just bemoans the filthiness of these dealings and yet stays and continues on with his businesses, that just left me confused. If he so wanted to change why not shut down his dodgy businesses and start fresh with the money? Why keep these shady dealings going??
Anna: And that is why I couldn’t care about Fletcher either Stella. There wasn’t real development in his character, and although I can say that I didn’t really like Sera, with Fletcher my problem is that I couldn’t really get him. And I prefer to not like a character, rather than for him to confuse me. As a character he simply wasn’t believable. Sera didn’t have a believable reason to act the way she did, whereas Fletcher was a fragmented character.
Stella: Yes, you found the exact word I was looking for, his characterization was fragmented. In the second half of the novel he became this sappy man in love with Sera, his whole revolving around her safety, happiness, every whim. That somehow clashed with his previous outlook on their relationship and how he saw Sera as an investment”. But then he had such romantic moments that made my heart beat faster and sigh:
“Do you know, we’ve been engaged over two weeks,” he said, stretching his legs across the narrow space between the seats.
“I do tend to notice the passing of days. It happens when the sun rises and then sets,” she said with tart humor.
He only smiled at her. “I notice more the absences.”
“I’ve yet to taste you again.” He said the words lightly, but his eyes burned with an intensity that would incinerate her. The air in the small carriage went thick and damp. Just like her. She swallowed. It did nothing to tamp down the embers.
“As you said, we’ll be married in two weeks. Won’t that be enough?”
He touched her with only a single fingertip, tracing a line across her cheek. “I die with wanting you, every day.”
Anna: Glad he made your heart beat faster, because I didn’t feel my heart beat any faster throughout the whole story. Nothing. Flat. The only thing I felt was disappointment because I really wanted to like this book and I truly believe that Lorelie Brown can deliver better and hotter stories. Because there were hot scenes in Wayward One, that’s for sure. But when I can’t “feel” the characters, then no matter how hot a story, there’s no sentiment in it. At least not for me. When I don’t care about the characters of a story even if a scene is sexy as hell, it can never move me. I just read it. Nothing more.
Stella: The problem for me was that even though Fletcher had some romantic moments, I didn’t feel the chemistry or romance between Fletcher and Sera. Nope. No tingles, no goosebumps, no excited heart rate. Sera was cold in her dealings with Fletcher, she rebuffed him, while in the first half of the story it was repugnant how in marrying her he only saw the reward for his investment, then later he became this starry-eyed lover, but I wonder if he was really in love with the actual flesh and blood woman or the angelic girl who lived in his memories, because I don’t feel that he got to know the woman Sera has become. So to conclude it, the romance/chemistry felt flat and even non-existent to me.
In the center of his home, she looked precisely right. He would keep her there. The crown jewel to top off his empire.
Anna: Couldn’t phrase it better myself Stella. Their chemistry was non existent even if, believe me, I tried really hard to find. But I felt nothing. No sparks, anything. And it’s a shame, because like I said, I kind of expected fireworks from Lorelie Brown.
Stella: Wayward One had a side of mystery/suspense thrown into the romance, but that storyline was very undeveloped, the villain way too obvious, and the whole set-up then the resolution of the problem lacking seriousness and credibility.
Anna: Yeah, that suspense storyline, was completely unnecessary for me. There was no need, especially the way it was executed. I think I understood the villain and his motives from the very first time he appeared. It was rather obvious, so the ending didn’t left me feeling awed in any department. Too predictable in every aspect.
Stella: My other main problem besides the lack of fireworks (or even sparks) in the romance department was the writing itself. I found the language of the novel a bit too structured, archaic and due to that stilted and jerky.
Anna: I didn’t really go that far as thinking about the writing to be honest. I was feeling so disappointed with everything else, that I didn’t even mind the writing style. It was just another thing I didn’t really like, among everything else.
Anna: When I picked up Wayward One, I was certain that I was in for a hell of a ride. I was expecting a mind blowing novel to be honest. And having high expectations of a book, rarely works in its advantage for me. Instead, all I got, was a mediocre story, with characters I couldn’t connect to or understand, a romance that felt flat in every department and in overall a book that I won’t remember for long I’m afraid. Maybe if I had lower expectations I would enjoy it more, but somehow I doubt it.
Stella: I started Wayward One without any prior expectations or prejudices as I had no comparison of Lorelie Brown’s previous stories (which might have been a good thing as I didn’t feel particularly let down), but I still expected Wayward One to be better. I found both the hero and heroine seriously flawed, the romance between them flat and lacking any genuine warmth or feeling that could resonate with me, the reader, while the writing was too structured and stilted for my taste. Though I struggled to finish Wayward One, with all the praise and reassurances I hear about Lorelie Brown’s writing both individually and as part of the Katie Porter duo I still plan on checking out her other stories, but this one just bored and frustrated me.