Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Too Sinful to Deny

Too Sinful to Deny by Erica Ridley 1211

Susan Stanton was exiled from her very wealthy family's London home after she escaped her imprisonment for eavesdropping and nearly got herself killed. She is sent to live her with her distant cousin, Lady Beaune, in the very quiet seaside town of Bournewell and shortly after her arrival she knows that there is something eerily wrong with the town. For starters, Lady Beaune is nowhere to be found and her husband, the giant Oliver and his manservant/ scarecrow valet do not seem to mind her disappearance. The dress shop is owned by a beautiful porcilen doll and her witch-like friend who take an immediate dislike to Susan and do all they can to alienate from the very few other townspeople. The only place to meet people is at the local tavern and there she meets Evan Bothwick, whom she is desperately attracted to but whose residence in Bournewell and lack of a title make him completely ineligible. Unknown to Susan Evan is a smuggler whose brother, Timothy, has just been murdered but his body disappeared before help could be summoned and now Evan is determined to find the killer.

Ever since her brush with death Susan can see ghosts and one of the first ghosts she sees is Timothy Bothwick who forcibly enlists her help to find a jewlery box that Oliver and his manservant are also desperate to find. But Susan wants out of the town and believes the only person who can help her is the local magistrate, Mr. Forrester, since there are no horses in town and her parents are not eager to rescue her. Evan knows Susan is up to something and while he has his own investigation to launch, he cannot help but want her near him at all times even while refusing to admit that he could ever have feelings for a woman. Danger lurks around every corner as more bodies turn up and Oliver and all the townspeople become even more hostile and Evan is the only person that she can trust, especially when Lady Beaune shows up chained in the dungeon. Now Susan needs to save her cousin and get out of this town, but she does not know if that will mean having to leave Evan behind or turning him into the authorities. Evan does not want to risk his own neck but to gain Susan's love he is willing to do and risk anything.

I felt like for both Susan and Evan I learned a lot about them and what they did and liked doing, but I still felt like they weren't completely developed and I didn't get a sense for who they were. Susan was outgoing but rather selfish and spoiled at times and yet she did things that were completely out of character and she was deeply caring about the situation Lady Beaune was didn't seem to care about the feelings of the ghosts. Evan was a smuggler who seemed to just do it because he was bored and he seemed only to think about his brother after he was killed and seemed to just halfheartedly go after his killer. I just did not get into the characters really. They did not spend all that much time together, they had a lot of business to take care of on their own about their own mystery and I felt like their relationship was crammed into kind of a short amount of space even though the book was long. There was some pretty hot sex, but not that much and I felt it would have been better if there had been more of a connection that I could really feel between them.

This book was mystery upon mystery all building on each other and causing my quite a bit of confusion from the giant and his scarecrow henchman to the pirates to the missing dead bodies to the lady chained up in the basement to the women who work in the dress shop to literally everyone in the entire town and it was quite engrossing. I admit I am not the biggest fan of novels where the mystery is the main focus, but even though the romance really did take the back seat here I was so caught up in what was going on and wondering what was going to happen next and it was really so well written that I did not mind. However, I definitely did get the feeling like the romance was not as well developed as it would have been otherwise and I would have enjoyed seeing Susan and Evan spend time together that wasn't being shadowed with murder and craziness. I think it takes a lot to pull off a mystery that I can enjoy and the writing style was fun and engrossing while still being informative and sexy while keeping a genuine mystery that left me guessing until the end.

Rating: A really great and intriguing mystery but the relationship was lacking and I would have preferred some more development on that end.

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