Anna Rees is the illegitimate sister of Lucien and Gideon Haverston from the book Nearly a Lady, although Practically Wicked does stand very well on its own. Anna and Max first meet after his brother's death when Max is heavily in his cups and visiting Anna's mother's party. Anna and Max spend a few short hours together talking, and a couple of minutes kissing before Anna leaves Max to sleep off his stupor. When Max returns for Anna later, her mother keeps the would be lovers apart by lying to them, and four years pass before they meet again.
When next they meet, Anna has just discovered she is the illegitimate daughter of the late Marquess of Engsly and she has been invited to Caldwell Manor to meet her family. Unbeknownst to Anna, Max is an old family friend and is also a guest of her half-brother Lucien. Naturally Max is suspicious of Anna's motives for seeking out Lucien. After an awkward, or rather animosity filled, first meeting with each other Max and Anna quickly clear up what had transpired four years before. Max is still suspicious of Anna's sudden entrance into the Haverston's life, especially knowing that Lucien has been honoring his father's old debts, and one of those debts is now Anna.
I liked Max and Anna, they weren't the typical Regency hero and heroine - well Max was definitely the typical rakehell but, there aren't too many heroines who are just as notorious as the hero, although in this case Anna is notorious for her lack of action, rather than her misdeeds. Known as the Ice Maiden of Anover House, Anna is dressed up and brought out for display by her mother but, she is not allowed to talk to anyone. Anna is required to stand and look pretty while her mother loudly praises her then is allowed to return to her solitary existence. Anna wants nothing more than to escape her mother and live in a cottage in the country, and the £1,000 from Engsly will help her accomplish that dream.
Anna was always Mrs. Wrayburn's daughter, she was the Ice Maiden, she was a possession, everything belonged to her mother; she was never just Anna. Anna never knew what it was like to be just Anna until she escaped her courtesan mother and found acceptance with her half-brothers and their wives, and she found much more with Max. Anna's wonder at being accepted so completely by her new family was very sweet. Expecting them to condemn them for her birth, their acceptance of her was more wondrous than finally leaving Anover House.
I loved that Max gave Anna a puppy to apologize for his boorish behavior. I loved that when he was with Anna, Max found joy in all the simple things he took for granted, like the wonder of a library, morning strolls in the country, a puppy, and the joy of knowing that something was yours. Max slays all of her dragons for her and all the time they are falling in love Anna could never believe that a viscount and a courtesan's daughter could be together, and that made everything just so much harder for her. The ending was perfect and made me a bit teary.
Once again, Alissa Johnson has written another wonderful book with Practically Wicked, and has given me another keeper for my shelves. Don't miss this sweet story.
Reviewed by: Valarie Pelissero