So here is another one of those books that the title doesn't really match the book for me, and I truly enjoyed this story very much and will definitely read more from Isabella Bradford.
Harry Fitzroy, the Earl of Hargreave, is the eldest son of the Duke of Breckonridge and the time has come for Harry to pick a bride who will be a proper wife and future duchess. In his mind, only one lady will do, the Lady Julia Barclay, who is a true beauty and perfection in Harry's eyes. Harry travels to Julia's family's estate with all intentions of asking her to be his wife, but an accident happens to change the course of Harry's life and his mind about what is perfection when it comes to being his wife.
Lady Augusta is Julia's younger and apparently plain looking sister, but she is also truly a prize in her father's household for she basically runs it better than anyone else could since her mother's passing. When Harry becomes gravely injured and Julia completely falls apart from the circumstances, Gus takes over as usual and nurses the Earl as best as she can. When Harry awakens from unconsciousness, he insists having Gus by his side at all times, but at first he believes the plain girl to be a servant, not a Lady of the house.
A Wicked Pursuit by Isabella Bradford is a tale of disappointment and awakening of sorts. What Harry truly believes is perfect for him, turns out to be a big let-down when he finds that his perfect and beautiful Julia has abandoned him for London, leaving him at the mercy of her sister, Gus. At first, Harry is a bit aloof and shallow, but his subsequent injury to his leg wakes him up from that stupor and makes him see the true value right in front of him. Gus knows that but for the fact that Harry was hurt, she would never have fallen in love with him and he with her. But can love overcome the possibility that Harry may never be able to do all the same activities he enjoyed before his fall, or even walk correctly for that matter? This is the part of the book that I enjoyed the most. Once Gus and Harry are bound by marriage, and shout their love for one another loud and clear, there is still his disappointment with his circumstances and niggling doubt that life will go on as it should.
I love how the calm and sensible simple girl gets the Earl. It's done with feminine wile, without pretense and without lies. Harry's own transformation from a somewhat shallow boy to the honorable man and Gus' evolution into a great lady are what make this a great read. My absolute favorite parts from the book has to do with Harry defending Gus to members of the ton, telling someone who he thought was a friend who was very surprised the Earl married Gus, " I married the right sister". It just leaves an impression, a memorable one at that.
So I go back to my original statement about the title, which I think is off. There was nothing wicked in the intentions of anyone involved in this tale, but a title is all it is and it doesn't take away from the reality the book is a great read. Enjoy!