Intelligent and driven, Orion Worthington aspired to be like his mentor, the acclaimed scientist Sir Geoffrey Blayne. Logically, Sir Geoffrey’s daughter would be Orion’s perfect match. So why can’t he keep his mind off the unruly girl who works in Sir Geoffrey’s lab?
Orphaned fire-cracker Francesca Penrose hopes that London is modern enough to accept her brilliant mind despite her womanhood. But she can’t help noticing Orion’s mind…or his body.
So they decide to run an experiment: if they give in to their passions, their attraction will simply fizzle out, with no impact on their hearts…right?
Publisher and Release Date: Signet, May 2016
Time and Setting:Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Review Rating: 3 stars
Review by Sara
I am torn about Celeste Bradley’s new release, I Thee Wed. It’s a cute story of an analytically minded gentleman finding passion in the arms of an intelligent woman, but it falters in its uneven pacing and a sense that the author betrays her smart characters by having them make silly mistakes.
Orion Worthington sees himself as nothing like the artistic and emotional members of his family. Where his parents, siblings and cousins are all driven by what their hearts desire, Orion is dedicated to matters of the mind. Determined to use his scientific gifts to escape the stigma that comes with being a “Wicked Worthington” Orion jumps at the opportunity to apprentice in the laboratory of the celebrated Sir Geoffrey Blayne. The offer of employment comes with the added chance to court the man’s beautiful daughter, Judith, and possibly marry into a prestigious family of the ton. Working with a respected scientist and having a society woman as his bride would be the first steps to the future Orion has always planned for, yet those plans begin to unravel once he meets Sir Geoffrey’s niece Francesca Penrose.
Caught between her English and Italian heritage, Francesca is a woman hoping to belong somewhere. Working in her uncle’s lab gives Francesca a respectable way to follow her scientific studies; however she is barely tolerated by her relatives and finds no joy in trying to fit into the English way of life. She has always been interested in botany but her passions include the chemistry in making a perfect Bolognese sauce or the biology found in a butterfly’s wings. When she meets Orion there is an instant attraction between them but he is too arrogant and dismissive of her skills to be worth her attention. Their close proximity in Sir Geoffrey’s household keeps pushing them together, first as friendly adversaries in the lab and then as lovers experimenting with their desires. It’s all in the name of science until Francesca feels like the other woman when Orion still maintains his intention to court and marry Judith. She has to change the parameters of their experiment to show Orion that their feelings for each other are just as important as any scientific breakthrough found in a lab.
I Thee Wed takes its time developing Orion and Francesca. They are intelligent people who believe their scientific skills are their only escape from the small boxes society would put them in; he as a member of an uncouth family and she as a woman playing in a man’s field of study. They initially butt heads because their mutual attraction distracts them away from all that has driven them to this point. Francesca is the first to understand that being with Orion expands her appreciation of the human condition and makes her better. It takes Orion much longer to acknowledge that accepting both sides of himself, the passionate man and the learned scholar, improves all aspects of his life.
Celeste Bradley knows how to write a sex scene that can curl your toes but her last few books have taken that skill to an almost ridiculous extreme. Once Orion and Francesca acknowledge their lust for each other it becomes an almost constant expression of that feeling until the final chapters of the books. Sexual exploration is an easy way to show Orion’s enlightenment to desires separate from his work; however it is used too much and slows everything down. I eventually started skimming these scenes to get to the parts of the book that moved the plot forward. There is also a disconnect in how Lust transitions into Love since both characters treat their sexual play in an almost clinical fashion. Orion and Francesca’s intimacy is hot but there isn’t enough of the softer emotions that come with a new love, like caring or simple fondness, to convince me that they could have a relationship once their infatuation calmed down.
I enjoyed several moments within I Thee Wed but it did take a while to get there. I loved Orion’s rather unusual family and his mischievous little sister’s attempts at manipulating his life to better suit her goals. I liked the slow reveal of the villain and how his manipulations were hidden in plain sight but easily missed until the final twist in the story. His comeuppance and a secondary romance towards the end of the book are very satisfying and improved my overall feelings about the story. If the romantic side of things had been a bit more believable or Orion had softened more through the book rather than at the eleventh hour this could have been a 4-star read.