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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Artfully Wicked by Virginia Taylor - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Winsome has been in love with John, now the Earl of Langsdale, for a long time. However, he hurt her and she doesn’t easily forgive. When John asks for her help Winsome reluctantly gives it. He wants to know who’s behind the cartoons he’s in that keep appearing in the newspaper. They damage his reputation and as Winsome knows all about art she should be able to help him find the person behind them. Is she really the right person to ask though?

John is leaving his wilder days behind and has started looking for a wife. He once loved someone deeply, but this love was never returned. Now that he’s back in touch with Winsome he discovers how wonderful she is, but does he have a chance with the willful woman who won’t back down from a challenge and is confident enough to completely be herself at all times?

Artfully Wicked is a fantastic romantic story. Winsome has an admirable personality, she’s smart, talented, confident and sweet. I loved how daring and artistic she is and enjoyed reading about her very much. She doesn’t let others dictate her life and her decisions constantly made me smile. She’s a challenge and that’s exactly what John needs. There are plenty of sparks, but Winsome is a woman with secrets and I was curious to find out what would happen when they’d come to the surface. This kept me captivated from beginning to end. 

Virginia Taylor has a great warm writing style that’s laced with humor. She writes about strong women with fiery personalities, which is something I love. She makes the era she’s chosen for her story come to life in an amazing way, I could easily picture the beautiful dresses, the rules of society and the many interesting places that she describes. Virginia Taylor combines this with the magic of true love, which works really well. Artfully Wicked is a delightful entertaining story filled with heartwarming twists and turns and plenty of chemistry and charm. 


If you love historical romance and are looking for a fabulous quick read, you don’t want to miss Artfully Wicked.

About Virginia Taylor

After training at the South Australian School of Art, Virginia worked in an advertising agency. This segued into re-training as a nurse/midwife before meeting the man of her dreams, marrying and producing two children. 

Over the years Virginia has been a theatre set painter and designer, but now she fills her days as a full time writer.



1) Can you tell a little bit about yourself?

I’m a dyslexic, agoraphobic, vegan, teetotaler - (guess which one of those is not true). This means I can’t add numbers in my head, never know the date, can’t translate overseas times to mine without checking about a thousand times, and don’t like travelling too far away from home, or being forced to eat and drink anything I don’t want to eat or drink. In other words, I’m really annoying.

Beside that, I have ten books published, five in historical and five in contemporary romance. My first was published in 2013 but I had been writing for years and had a large backlist. I still have three waiting in the wings, and another three that need a little revising before they are publishable.

I’m a competent painter, of walls, and pictures, I love designing, but I worked as a nurse/midwife, because artists need money if they want to eat. Best of all, I love to write.

2) Winsome is a strong and talented woman, what’s the inspiration behind her personality?

I would love to say that I am inspired, but I try to write logically and give everyone the right partner, because having the right partner is the key to happiness. Since most of my heroines are young, I wanted to try an older one. This is how Winsome found herself in my story. I had to have a good reason why she wasn’t married, because women married younger in those days.

Of course, the reason is that she loved a man who didn’t notice her and she wouldn’t settle for less. Therefore she needed an interest, and what better than to give her one that would either push her and John apart or join them together. I think her art does both. He was interested in her drawings initially and he was ‘drawn’ to them later, but for the opposite reasons.

3) Can you describe John and Winsome in nine words each?

Winsome: Loyal, sensitive, humorous, generous, artistic, elegant, modest, determined, sensible, and artful.

John: Tall, handsome, rich, intelligent, thoughtful, solitary, courteous, wary, athletic, and open-minded.

4) What do you like the most about romantic stories?

Oh, definitely the happy endings. I can’t make myself read a story that I think might end badly. Since I was denied a happy-ever-after for myself, I only ever want that for my characters.

5) If you could travel back in time and visit one of your stories, which one would it be and what would you like to do in that time and area?

Although I really wouldn’t want to live in Victorian times, if I had to, I would choose the country life of Ella (in my historical romance cleverly named Ella). If I hadn’t stayed on a sheep station, I couldn’t have described her wearying tasks.

My aunt and uncle ran a large station, and during various school holidays, I stayed with them. I can’t say I enjoyed the smell of sheep, but I rounded up the erratic creatures on horseback, helped with the dipping, and watched the shearing. Mainly my cousins and I slacked off, unless we got caught, and then we had to work.

Then about ten years ago, my husband and I established a large fruit and vegetable garden on our country property. We had fourteen fruit trees, lines of grape varieties, and a huge strawberry patch, plus every vegetable that we could eat. I absolutely loved that! I learned how to use everything I grew, including the grape vine leaves, which I pickled to make dolmades. I did jams, preserves, dips, bread, and you name it, I made sure I knew how to use it.

6) What does true love mean to you?

Loyalty, faithfulness, and trust. If a couple doesn’t have that, even if they love each other, they have nothing.

7) How did your writing journey start?

At the age of 38 my husband was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Until that time, I had been a great reader, but the endings of some books left me frustrated. I needed happy endings. I grabbed up a book with a lurid cover in the library by an author I had never heard of, Joanna Lindsay. I was hooked. Piles of silly stuff with a happy ending. Since I was not going to have one myself, I salaciously found it in books. Still do.

8) You create Pinterest boards with hairstyles and dresses that suit your heroines, how did you get that idea and what’s your favorite period in history when it comes to fashion?

I was advised by my publisher to join Pinterst, and I adore it. I am primarily a designer, trained in art, and I have a great interest in colours. Most of my heroines are not beautiful, but I discovered early in my career (when I had to dress models for the catwalk) that colour would either show off the gown or the model. Putting a model in colours that looked ghastly on them sold the gown. Putting models in colours that suited them, made them look lovely.

When someone says ‘that colour looks wonderful on you’, translated, the words mean exactly that. The colour is the star, not you. If they say ‘you look wonderful in that colour’ you can bet you do. People unconsciously say the former thinking they are saying the latter, but of course they are complimenting the colour.

Although many gowns in the historical era are absolutely gorgeous, with all the pinning and corsetry the poor women were subjected to, daily dressing would be an incredible chore. Even in the Regency period, women wore stays, but they had looser gowns and lighter fabrics. I do worry about them freezing to death in cold England with all those low-necked gowns, though. Perhaps they had fabulous metabolisms.

Anyway, despite goosebumps and shivering a lot, and dreadful diseases, I would choose Regency times because of The Gowns.

9) You have a blog that’s all about your beautiful garden, can you tell a bit more about it?

The National Trust garden I work in is almost finished. (You can see this on Virginia-Taylor.comfiled under Garden Blog.) About five years ago I began this area on a three acre block. Since I started on the project, I have weeded, cut back, built stone walls, plotted paths, and established hundreds of plants, either from cuttings or donations.

The maintenance is ongoing but the design is finished. Gardens evolve and that one sure has. When I work there, my mind empties of all but the job at hand.

I also have a home garden that is coming along. Last year I planted it in colour blocks and this year I am being rewarded. The side garden is red, purple, blue, and silver. It’s the sunniest part of the garden but the blues and silver cool the area down.

My front garden has three sides with three different colour blocks, balayage-ing from reds and pinks to pinkish orange, to straight-out orange, to white and then bluish purple. The background of this area is a viburnum hedge and the ground cover a purple flowering thyme that weaves all the colours together. In the ground mix is a white tiny flowering plant whose name I don’t know. The bees adore my garden.

10) What are your plans for the future?

I think I want a bee hive. I don’t want the honey, but I adore bees. Of course, my real plan is to be a best seller, but with ten titles, I haven’t managed so far. Maybe my next novella, Deliciously Hazardous, will be a winner.


One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a digital copy of one historical romance novel and a digital copy of one contemporary romance novel from Virginia Taylor’s backlist (winner’s choice).

The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.


  1. Artfully Wicked sounds like a witty Regency romance with great repartee, snappy dialogue and plenty of humour.

    1. I'm told my wit is dry, if you like that sort of wit.

  2. Looks absorbing and interesting xx

  3. Looking forward to reading "Artfully Wicked."

  4. I would really like to read your work.

    1. I am not able to give free copies of Artfully Wicked away, but on October 28th all my historicals will be discounted, starting at 99 cents. In the meantime Artfully Wicked is 99 cents at the moment.

  5. A great interview. Loved reading it, you are certainly very talented in many different directions. My granddad used to keep bees, it was fun to see him working with them and the honey was delicious.

    1. I have a friend with a hive and I envy her. I have thousands of bees in my garden because I have lots of flowers. They are adoring my flowering thyme at the moment.

  6. ARTFULLY WICKED sounds a great and interesting story filled with characters you would like to learn more about and see what happens to me. Love the cover too.

    1. Thank you. The reviewers like the story which encourages me to believe that readers will too.

  7. Sounds like a beautiful story. Great interview too. It's always nice to get to know the author. Thank you for the giveaway. All the best, Virginia.

  8. Many thanks for the great review!

  9. I too love my garden & several houses nearby have their own hives so there's plenty of local knowledge if I ever get around to starting my own. Good luck with Deliciously Hazardous!