Friday, May 3, 2013

Two Sinful Secrets

Two Sinful Secrets by Laurel McKee

Lady Sophia Huntington has always been the black sheep of her family and she gets a rush living down to their expectations. She thrives on thrill seeking and one night finds herself gambling with the very attractive Dominic St. Claire, a rake of the first order and definitely someone her family would not approve her. A stolen kiss frightens and intrigues her and when she runs away she takes the memory with her while Dominic is determined to find the beautiful woman in black. Years later Sophia is widowed in Europe after eloping with a completely ineligible army man who gambled and drank and left her with a bitter taste of marriage. Dominic is in Paris at the same time and immediately recognizes her as someone he wants to get to know, but when his brother discovers that she is a member of the hated Huntington family his plans for her change. Centuries earlier the Huntington's had married and abandoned a St. Claire, dooming the St. Claire's family to the outskirts of society ever since. They both find the other just as attractive as they had been when they first met and spend quite a bit of time together.

It is not long before an old enemy of Sophia's, Lord Hammond, a former gambling partner who wanted far more than money from Sophia and became quite upset when she refused his advances. Because Dominic has become Sophia's newest suitor, Hammond makes it clear that him and his family are in his sights. Dominic realizes that his feelings for Sophia have changed, but are still tinged with the desire for revenge, so he offers to marry her to protect her from Hammond. Knowing that this will ruin any chances she has for getting back into her family's good graces Sophia gives into the rash desire to marry him. His family is initially skeptical of their union because of her back ground but they begin to come around a she proves that she is just as dedicated to their theater as all of them and as she and Dominic forge a life together. When Hammond threatens her newfound happiness and family she knows she would do anything to save them and Dominic must be there to show her that all that matters is the two of them making a future together.

Sophia was initially a frustrating and difficult to admire character, but she became well rounded and likable as the novel progressed as we delved deeper into her psyche and her past. She was impetuous and drawn to daring escapades and challenges and danger and this could easily have completely turned me off but there was enough backstory that I understood where she was coming from. Sophia was eager for friends and family and a place to belong which is why I loved that Dominic came with a ready family who was there to support them. Instead of being obnoxious relatives who get in the way, the St. Claire's were part of what made them such a great couple. Dominic was less developed then Sophia and did not have all her hidden nuances but I was still able to see what made him so appealing to her. He was also a risk taker and encouraged Sophia to give into her urges and take chances and was supportive of her and her endeavors. His instinct to protect her was, of course, admirable and his desire for revenge quickly fell by the wayside as he grew to love her.

I was completely taken in by their relationship and loved how they complemented each other so nicely. They had so much in common and even though they were both big risk takers and adventurers, somehow when they got together it worked so well and they both ended up being happy and protected. There was some sex, but there could have been quite a bit more, and it hinted at a lit bit of kink, but really just kind of ended up with barely a fizzle which was disappointing since these two were so attracted to each other. The side plot with the Huntington- St. Claire feud was well done in this novel because it was low intensity and only caused minor drama, but the journal was a bit of an annoyance and I could have done without it. I did enjoy the Lord Hammond plot because it had a well written bad guy and, while it served to bring the two of them together and created a lot of drama and mystery, it did not detract from the romance at all. This book also nicely set up the next book or two in the series which make it clear the family feud is on the way out.

Rating: An enjoyable book with a heroine I grew to like and a romance between two very compatible characters in a believable relationship with a nice little mystery.

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