Series Review: Gothic Love Stories

Book CoverToo Wicked to Kiss, Too Sinful to Deny, Too Tempting to Resist, & Too Wanton to Wed
by Erica Ridley
My Rating: 3.5-Stars
Genre: Gothic Romance
Release Date: out now
Formats: Kindle Unlimited, eBook, or Paperback

The Gothic Love Stories series by Erica Ridley consists of books that were previously released before and have been edited and re-released. Books three and four were published under different titles in their prior editions: Too Tempting to Resist was known as Romancing the Rogue and Too Wanton to Wed was known as Dark Surrender.

Unlike a lot of Ridley’s writing, these books were darker and more substantial in length. The gothic theme is strong throughout three of the four titlesI found it lacking in Too Tempting to Resist, but the story was enjoyable regardless as a general historical romance. This series has murder, mystery, ghosts, creepy castles, intriguing plots, engaging characters, and so much more.

Each book is standalone with no cliffhangers and a HEA.

Individual book comments:

Too Wicked to Kiss (3.5 stars): Evangeline is dragged to a house party at the estate of a rumored murderer. Unfortunately for Gavin, someone gets murdered at the party. Was it him, as most suspect, or does one of the many suspicious house guests have a motive?

In Too Wicked, I really liked the build-up of tension behind the reveal of the murderer. This story crosses into the paranormal with Evangeline’s special power, and it made her useful to forwarding the plot. Gavin’s background was kept under wraps for a bit too long, at least in regards to the reader being left in the dark. Evangeline’s friend, Susan, was too flighty given the situation, which is thankfully improved upon in the next book when she gets her own story.

The murder theme is laid on so thickly in this bookenough such that I’m not sure if it was charming or overbearing after a while. You can only have so many thunderstorms, gargoyles, and red cloth laying about.

While I would have enjoyed more passion between the main characters, the epilogue was a great ending to their story. It is short yet brings us a satisfying look at Evangeline and Gavin after the story’s events, and what they have waiting in their future.

Too Sinful to Deny (3 stars): Following yet another scandal, Susan’s parents want her far away from London, and so she’s evicted to spend time with a distant aunt. Evan is a smuggler by trade, but when danger closes in, he finds himself working with the new pampered lady in town to uncover the answers.

I really enjoyed the core plot of this story, and liked how it used communication with ghosts for its gothic element. However, the ghost aspect often fell aside until the plot needed a new shove forward, so the way it was used felt like a crutch at times. There was murder and mystery, but the smuggling itself (especially after the build-up about its dangers) was anti-climatic. The plot was paced well and was intriguing, but the ending felt quite sudden in comparison to the rest.

Susan and Evan were distinct and delightful to read. I enjoyed that they were both tenacious and adventurous, each in their own ways.

Too Tempting to Resist (4 stars): When Rebecca’s uncle inherits the castle she resides in, she’s given an ultimatum: marry quickly, or get lost. Then the only man she ever lovedand the only man to break her heartis summoned to the reading of the will. Daniel regrets his past choices and hopes to rebuild their friendship, and perhaps more.

This is the shortest of the four stories, and it isn’t as dark as the rest. It’s a second-chance romance set in a creepy localeand that’s where the “gothic” part of this story ends. That didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story, but it was a notable contrast for the series.

I may have rated this five stars if it weren’t for the believability factor to be lost in regards to Rebecca’s life at her uncle’s manor. The fact that her uncles and the solicitor forgot she lived there was too muchthe solicitor, if anyone, should have been aware from the moment she became a permanent resident. Another detraction is when Rebecca reflects in the opening chapter on how the staff doesn’t notice her and attributes things she does to ghosts of the castle, yet later in the book they recognize her and are at her beck and call.

That aside, the story of Daniel and Rebecca’s relationship was engaging, touching, at times heartbreaking, and satisfying. My only true lament is that the final chapter wasn’t just a little bit longer, as I wasn’t quite ready to let these two go.

Too Wanton to Wed (4 stars): After Violet commits murder (of a sort) to save a child, she flees to avoid retribution. She stumbles upon Waldegrave Abbey, where its denizens live inside the darkness of its boarded-up walls, for a shocking reason—a sensitivity to sunlight. Alistair doesn’t look like a vampire, nor does his young daughter, who is kept locked away. As Lily’s new governess, Violet seeks to bring some light into the little girl’s world while hiding from the demons of her own.

This story was full of mystery and the gothic element is at a high with the comparisons to vampirism, the dungeon-like structure of the abbey, and late night walks. I would have enjoyed some more concern over Violet’s original situation throughout the entire story, but the way it wove back into the narrative did feel natural.

The building of Violet and Alistair’s relationship was done well, as was the mending of Lily’s devastating childhood and Alistair’s heart. There is a brief epilogue that wraps everything up, but unlike the one in Too Wicked, it was too abrupt and didn’t give quite the same sense of completion.

One thing I hope for the future is that a grown-up Lily gets her own story!

The entire Gothic Love Stories series is available now.

I received an ARC of all four books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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