Without a doubt, Jasinda Wilder’s Madame X, the first book in a new series, is unlike anything else I’ve read. In this compelling and dark novel, one woman will question everything she knows—everything she can remember, at least—as she slowly realizes her savior might not be the hero she imagines him to be.
Madame X can’t remember her life before Caleb. He discovers her bloodied and beaten, takes her to a hospital and oversees her care. After she heals, he employs X and helps her rebuild her identity—keeping her housed, clothed, loved. Caleb is all she knows, and he keeps her locked away like a bird in a cage. And while X wishes for a taste of something more, sometimes the comfort of familiarity is easier to accept than the lure of the new.
Though X is an adult, there are still things she hasn’t experienced, or at least remembers experiencing—first kisses, celebrating birthdays or the taste of wine, to name a few. When her job teaching etiquette to the protégés of the wealthy forces her to step foot outside of her plush apartment, it’s both heartbreaking and beautiful to see the way she adjusts to the outside world. X wants more, especially from Caleb, though it quickly becomes clear that what she’s asking for is something he isn’t capable of giving.
Wilder does a wonderful job of creating something unique with Madame X. The assumed hero isn’t much of a hero at all, despite how much X wishes him to be. However, a knight in shining armor waits in the wings, though Caleb isn’t keen on letting his prized possession go. It’s complicated, and Wilder fully intends to make readers work for X’s happy ending. X is still growing and learning about herself, and she builds strength and confidence as the novel progresses. It’s a delicate metamorphosis that Wilder handles well, writing from X’s insightful and alluring point of view.
Readers will anxiously await the continuation of X’s story. It’s one of those books that you will want your friends to read, just so you have someone with whom to discuss it. X reaches a point where she must decide between the devil she knows or the devil she doesn’t, and her story isn’t one you’ll soon forget.