3 ways that Born to be Wilde will hit you right in the feelings


Don’t let the shirtless man in the rain on the cover turn you away from Born to be Wilde. This romance novel will leave you melting.

After the experience that was Too Wilde to Wed, this reviewer wasn’t sure what to expect from the next book in the series, Born to be Wilde, once Avon sent it along. (That’s not even the only book with this title according to Goodreads, which just means that the romance genre needs to up its pun game, but we digress.)

The answer is apparently a book that left this reviewer impressed with its centering of our heroine, Lavinia, without completely shunting Parth to the side, and one that brought the feelings to the fore without destroying the plot in the process.

Let’s get right into what might make you exclaim that you’ve been hit right in the feels.

Lavinia’s growth

There’s something distinctly modern about about the central conflict in Lavinia’s story. No, it’s not whether or not she’ll end up with Parth. Instead, the more intriguing conflict is whether or not Lavinia can come out of being a dowry-less woman with something resembling self-esteem.

Sure, Parth is charming, and he has his own character growth. However, Lavinia wanting more than just attraction from Parth — she explicitly asks for his respect at one point — makes her a captivating heroine because she’s not insecure about the simple matter of love. These two have the potential for an actual partnership, and kudos for James for not ignoring that aspect of their relationship.

But aside from that, Lavinia’s worry that she is shallow just because she likes clothing and fashion is something that seems relatable even in the 21st century. We’re in a world that still responds to the idea of women “having it all,” and on some level, that’s what Lavinia’s trying to do, too.

Parth and sensitivity

Parth is what we’d call biracial today, with a white English father and an Indian mother, both of whom are dead by the time the book’s events occur. In the author’s note at the end, James acknowledges that she had a reader comb through the book to make sure that she treated Parth right — and perhaps more importantly, notes that that reader also alerted her to some descriptions that were “negatively charged.”

Sure, this is a little meta, but in a genre where white leads are still pretty prominent, it’s important that authors are expanding their boundaries but not just trusting that they know everything based on a little research.

Oh, and also, Parth ends up being (unsurprisingly) a total softie whose gruffness masks his affection. That’s not uncommon in the genre, but it often only comes up for the hero’s love interest. Fortunately, it isn’t the case here.

Elisa needs a book

Honestly, it seems like a strange choice not to have Elisa star in the next book; she’s a side character looking to become part of English society after being widowed in Italy. She’s funny, playful, and ends up being friends with Lavinia instead of the two fighting over Parth.

Most of the other sideplots in Born to be Wilde, including several appearances from the stars of Too Wilde to Wed, end up feeling like they suck too much oxygen away from the main story. (Often, the complaint is reversed, so … good work, I guess?) In fact, the preview for the next book’s pairing feels particularly awkward in a way that the three pairings so far haven’t.

Next. 20 books you'll absolutely want to binge this summer. dark

But for the most part, Born to be Wilde is a fun read for historical romance lovers.