Published by The Overlook Press
Publication date: September 27th 2012
When it comes to British multi-generational family dramas no one does it better than Penny Vincenzi. Her books are Dynasty and Dallas on the page. In her latest, Wicked Pleasures, she follows the Praeger family through two generations and enough intrigue, romance and backstabbing for even the most jaded reader. The novel moves from the 1960s through the 1980s and travels, most satisfyingly, from upper-crust London to the Hamptons to the New York City of high finance.
Fred Praeger owns a successful investment bank in New York City and focuses the majority of his attention on his son, Baby, who is next in line to inherit the company. That is until daughter Virginia marries an Earl. Alexander, the Earl of Caterham, to be exact. Both Praeger heirs go on to produce offspring and it’s here that the woven web tangles. As Charlotte, Georgina, and Max (Virginia’s children) reach adulthood they discover that Alexander is not their biological father. The sudden death of their mother means answers are not easy to find. The Praeger children, Freddy, Kendrick, and Melissa may not have the paternity woes of their cousins but their paths still overlap from across the ocean as they fall in love with inappropriate partners and try and wrestle control of the family business from interlopers. If you’re worried I’ve given away the plot—not by half. Wicked Pleasures twists and turns like a serpent, with just as much slithery danger.
This may sound like more froth than you can handle, but I’d still suggest you give Vincenzi a chance. Yes, there is drama galore in her books and she’s started sexing them up more but they are also enormously detailed and well thought out, which might be why they weigh in at over 600 pages. There are no plot lines that dribble off inconclusively or characters that inconveniently disappear. Instead, whatever industry is the mainstay of the novel is flawlessly reproduced, right down to the jargon. On the lighter side, designers and labels of the time are accurately named whether it is china, shoes, clothing, or champagne; Vincenzi thoroughly immerses the reader in the world she creates. Draw a bubble bath, curl up on the couch, sip a cup of tea or glass of champagne, crack open Wicked Pleasures, and prepare to escape.