Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Sex and the Single Earl
Simon St. James, Earl of Trask, wants to invest in new factories and his future partner wants assurances that Simon will be able to provide enough coal to keep the factories running. Luckily for Simon he is already expected to marry Sophie Stanton whose family has been close to his for years. She is a scandal monger who makes impetuous decision and Simon knows he will have to be able to keep a tight reign on her in order for their marriage to succeed. Sophie Stanton has been in love with Simon for years but she acknowledges that he is not the happy and carefree young man she remembers. He is more concerned with avoiding scandal than ever, but it does not stop her from hoping that tone day he will love her as much as she loves him. While she is staying with his aunt's in Bath he decides it is the perfect time to propose. Before he can Sophie goes out to town where her family's heirloom bracelet is stolen by a beautiful young thief and, while he escapes, Sophie becomes determined to help him and safe him from a life of crime.
Sophie tries to enlist Simon's help and while he does not find it to be a very worthwhile cause he finally agrees, but only after obtaining Sophie's agreement that she will not venture out to find the boy without him. Sophie of course has no intention of following through on this promise and makes several excursions out before the boy seeks her out to return the bracelet. She discovers that Toby is in terrible trouble as his father is going to sell his sister to a brothel and she is more determined than ever to help them. Simon does not like all the scandal she is causing, but cannot manage to stay away from her and they indulge in one night of passion that seals for Simon that Sophie is meant to be his. Unfortunately Sophie is not sure that a marriage between them will work out as Simon is so scandal averse that she worries things will go badly when she steps out of line and because she does not believe he loves her and it does not get better when she discovers he also wants her coal mines. Simon must prove that he doesn't care about the scandal- only about having Sophie for his own; and that he loves her.
Sophie could be a little childish at times but she really grew on me throughout the story as all the things that made her childish were admirable traits. She didn't accept society's restrictions in her determination to go after what she wanted and help Toby and his sister. She desperately wanted Simon to love her and wasn't willing to settle for less and while she loved him she wasn't willing to compromise her own principles in order to have him. It was this quality that really made her so amazing and the only thing that really brought her down to me was her unswerving loyalty to Simon even when I felt he didn't deserve it. I did not understand why she was in love with him for much of the book, however he did redeem himself as the book went on with his possessive/ protective act even if it did go too far on many occasions. The sex between them was very hot and plentiful and worked well with the story as it brought them closer together and sealed Simon's need to have Sophie in his life. In the end I found their love for each other believable and the romance well written.
There was also a villain of the story in the form of Simon's ex-mistress, Lady Randolph, and as usual I found myself really liking a female villain. For some reason, I absolutely love them, but I wish that some of her motives had been better explained as there seemed to be a backstory that we were not getting. She served the purpose of providing more scandal that Sophie and Simon would have to overcome if they were going to be together. There were so many obstacles thrown in their path, several different scandal threats, Lady Randolph herself, and then the fear that Simon only wanted her for her coal mines. At first I was behind them as all romance novels need something to stand in the way of the protagonists or they'd all be 50 pages, but it did eventually begin to wear on me. There was so much talk of Simon working hard to avoid scandal and yet we didn't really see it happening in the story. By the end I was just waiting and waiting for them both to get over all of the things in the way and finally be together. Even the big declaration was a disappointment after Vicky Dreiling's How to Marry a Duke.
Rating: A better effort than her previous novel, and while I liked Sophie and her actions, I didn't like much else.