Sunday, April 10, 2011

How to Seduce a Sinner

How to Seduce a Sinner by Adrienne Basso 403

Dorothea Ellingsworth is from a good, if not particularly wealthy or powerful, family and knows that she has one season to make her mark and find herself a husband. Before agreeing to marry a man she must ensure that they are compatible physically and so allows each suitor a kiss. Unfortunately everyone has come up short and left her feeling cold, but her antics do not go entirely unnoticed. Carter Grayson, the Marquess of Atwood, and heir to the Duke of Hansborough, has been told in no uncertain terms that he must marry and marry quickly. He has no intention of giving in to his father's commands and he and his bachelor friends try to devise ways for him to get out of marriage. He makes a new friend in Major Roddington, a man born on the wrong side of the blanket who had proven his worth on the field of battle, and whom we quickly learn has an ulterior motive in befriending Carter. When Carter sees Dorothea kissing a man in the garden, and then later another man, he has to admit to being intrigued with the beautiful young woman. His desire increases when she informs him that she is not looking for love in a marriage, but would like passion, and perhaps friendship.

Carter becomes convinced that Dorothea would make him the perfect wife and quickly asks her to marry him. One kiss convinces Dorothea that the two will have the passionate marriage she had hoped for, but she still finds herself swept along a little blindly into the marriage. Their wedding night serves as a major disappointment to Dorothea and Carter does not know precisely how to fix the situation. He wants Dorothea in his bed, but does wants her to come willingly of her own accord so he commences a two week campaign to win her over with subtle touch until desire drives her to him. During this two weeks they go on picnics, go calling in the village, joke over the atrocious hats at the local millinery shop, and she does indeed fall into bed with him and realizes she is in love with him. She wants so much more from him than the loveless marriage she agreed to, but they are soon back in London where he is doing his best to place distance between them. Carter never expected to need Dorothea, to want her in his life, but that is indeed what happened, but just when it looks like their happiness is assured, Roddington reappears with a secret that could threaten everything Carter holds dear. Together Carter and Dorothea work their way to the truth and discover that they are better together than apart.

Dorothea's desire for passion, and her ability to be unashamedly sexual seems to be a trend for romance novel heroines as I've read so many books recently that feature virgins that don't shy away from kissing and even a little more. Her insistence that she doesn't want love is also common, but I feel like it rings more true here than in other books, because she recognizes the necessity of marriage so she can avoid being a burden on her family. The follow through is not very well done as on her first night of true ecstasy she realizes she is in love with him, which rather annoyed me. I did enjoy the time after she discovered she was in love with him while he was pulling away, because I was secure in the knowledge that he would eventually realize he was in love with her, but it also provided some nice angsty emotions on both their parts. However, I did not enjoy the time after their failed sexual encounter and her falling in love as it was a little too overdrawn for my taste. Carter was not as likable as Dorothea as 30 year-old men who plan all their actions purely to spite their father come across as rather juvenile. His inability to recognize his changing emotions, and his pitiful attempts to avoid them by going to bars with friends, just made him seem even more immature.

I felt like too much of this book was spent with the characters on opposite ends of everything- there was almost no interaction between them for the first third of it, but the book did get better when they got together. There was plenty of steam in the book and the sex between them was written and fairly hot, but nothing too terribly exciting. I enjoyed reading about Carter's relationship with his father because I feel like those types of things make a book special and set it apart and shows depth in the character. There were a lot of characters in this book in general and I couldn't really keep everyone apart from his friends, to her male friends and relatives and I got the feeling I was reading about characters from her previous books and from her future books and I don't really like that. I liked being kept in the dark about precisely what Roddington's secret until the very end and because of his actions I was surprised when it was revealed, but then realized I probably should have guessed what the truth was. Unfortunately I felt that some of his actions were close to inexcusable, so I was surprised when they were never brought up again after everything had been settled.

Rating: A bood book that I enjoyed reading, but the more time that goes by since I read it, the less I feel like it was anything special. Very readable and a good writing style, but predictable and boring at times.

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