A Talent for Sin by Lavinia Kent
Violet, Lady Carrington, is living the life she has always wanted for herself. She is free to make her own choices, she can do what she want, she does not need to worry about pleasing anyone else and she is currently engaged in quite the passionate affair with Lord Peter St. Johns. She is content to let things continue in this vein with the two of them just remaining their very close, but open-ended, relationship. Unfortunately for her, Peter is not content and is determined to marry Violet. She is of course not at all amenable to this and when she says no he informs her that the situation is not up for discussion: either she agrees to marry him or he ends their affair. Violet is frustrated and does her best to convince Peter that the two of them are not suitable- she is 31 to his 24, she is very far from virginal, she has quite the reputation, and eventually she confides that she is incapable of having children after a horrible accident when she gave birth to her son who died an hour after birth.
Peter abandons London to escape Violet, but when the two are forced together at the birth of Peter's nephew, the two can not keep their hands off each other. Peter makes it clear to Violet that all of her attempts to get him to abandon her will not work and she agrees to consider the possibility of marriage. Things become even more complicated when Violet's brother, Master, makes plans to marry their young sister, Isabella, off to an old man, Foxworthy. Foxworthy holds information that some of Master's investments had been filtered to the French during the war and demands Isabella and return. When Isabella begs Violet for help, Violet strikes a deal with Foxworthy that he accept her as a mistress and leave Isabella alone. To save Violet from this horrible fate Peter decides that he must marry Isabella so that she cannot be used as a bargaining chip. Violet is devastated by this and Peter certainly doesn't want to marry Isabella so the two of them must work together to find out the truth behind Master's problems with Foxworthy and earn a happy ending for the two of themselves together.
As with so many books that open in the middle of the relationship this book lacked so much of the romantic development that I enjoy so much. Unfortunately I felt this book was even worse than usual as the two had been so romantically involved that the situation had already progressed to the point of proposals- we missed the most fun part of everything! And I truly felt that there was so little character development to accompany this and that made it even more difficult to determine why exactly these two were supposedly so in love with each other. I know that I should not judge people by age but, as someone who is 24, I can not imagine a 24 man being truly ready for a lifetime commitment as men that age just seem so immature. However, Peter does acquit himself well with how he handles Violet's inability to commit, her revelation about her son's birth, and her actions regarding Foxworthy. Violet is also somewhat well written as her past marriages certainly make her feelings regarding marriage understandable, I wish she had been able to get over her insecurities more rapidly.
What I really did not understand about Violet was her sense of obligation to her brother and her family in general. Her brother seems like a right ass with his constantly being in debt and selling off his sisters to the highest bidder. Her sister is somewhat more understandable yet she goes about helping in the most roundabout way and does not do the most obvious thing imaginable- tell Peter was happening and asking for his help. And then it just gets even more convoluted with Peter saying he's going to marry Isabella and Violet refusing to let him back out because it would ruin her sister. Two books in a row where a woman is willing to sacrifice the love of her life to not ruin a family member and I will just say that Lisa Valdez did a much better job of it. Really the most likable character in this story was Isabella as she did some dumb things but at least they were understandable and when she finally took charge of her life she didn't go about it in a way that was completely ridiculous. And I'm not going for the Keira Knightley look-a-like on the cover.
Rating: I did not really like the characters and I didn't really get much of a sense of romantic development but it was a fast read- at least.