Dirty English is a modern romance from Ilsa Madden-Mills, an author who has graced both the New York Times and USA Today Best Seller Lists. Unlike much of her previous work, this is a stand alone novel.
In this particular story, a modern take on Pride and Prejudice, we follow the complicated and sometimes painful relationship between Elizabeth Bennett and Declan Blay. Elizabeth seems to be the ultimate modern girl: smart, tough and always in control. But after a party goes wrong, she is saved by brooding Brit Declan, a hardened street fighter with tattoos covering his muscular body. Both of them are carrying serious emotional baggage. A night of passion isn’t enough for him, but was it actually too much for both of them?
A romance between two such dramatic characters is always going to be passionate, sexy and hard-hitting. The scene is set right from the start and we quickly understand that we are dealing with two people who have both been damaged by life. The dialogue is sharp and the exchanges are never dull as the two try to build something together.
There are some excellent supporting characters, particularly Declan’s twin brother who adds a touch of humor to the story. Declan himself is a magnetic individual, often menacing, always fascinating. Ilsa Madden-Mills has created a rich, three dimensional character with real emotional depth. It would have been easy simply to create a typical bad boy, but there is much more here, from a tortured past, to a present that he fills with sexual tension and often barely-contained emotion.
The reader identifies with both of the protagonists, despite their obvious flaws. They are occasionally arrogant, often infuriating but always absorbing. This makes the novel a real page-turner and it is easy to be sucked into the book as events move along at a rapid pace.