>> Sunday, December 12, 2010
TITLE: Lord Sin
AUTHOR: Kalen Hughes
SETTING: 1780s England
SERIES: First in the Rakes of London series
REASON FOR READING: I picked it up when it came out because it sounded interesting and it's been in my TBR ever since
Six Nights Of Pleasure...Six years earlier, the young Ivo Dauntry developed a huge crush on recently-married Georgianna Exley. When one night at a party he saw her being harassed by a drunken guest, Ivo didn't stop to think. The ensuing duel, in which he killed the other man, resulted in him being exiled in Italy for years.
Georgianna Exley's passionate nature has always been her undoing, and for this reason the beautiful young widow allows her lovers only a single night in her bed. But Ivo Dauntry has come home to England, and for him she'll break her most sacred rule: granting him six nights of sensual bliss, one for every year he's given up for her...
Six Years To Wait...
As a gentleman born, Ivo risked his reputation and his life in a duel to defend Georgianna's honor. Now, returned from exile, Ivo discovers that she has proven to be less than a lady...and soon, his daring seduction becomes a sensual contest of wills. But the long-ago duel that bound them forever has fueled the hatred of a madman determined to make Georgianna pay for her misdeeds with her life, and once again, Ivo must risk everything to save the woman he loves...
But now Ivo has returned, after unexpectedly becoming his grandfather's heir. And the first person he sees, at a boxing match, no less, is Georgianna. The previously demure and virtuous young matron is looking very familiar with a man who's not her husband. Ivo feels betrayed... after what he gave up for her, he thinks, she owes him to remain virtuous. And if she's going to cheat on her husband, it should be with him.
And that sets the tone for the rest of the book. Ivo's crush on Georgianna is just as painful and massive as it was all those years earlier, and he's determined to have her, especially after realising she's widowed.
George, however, has built a life she really enjoys since her husband (whom she actually loved very much) died. She is surrounded by masses and masses of (mostly male) friends, who have adopted her house as their unofficial club and are happy to indulge George's every whim, however inappropriate. They're all half in love with her, but at the same time, they treat her almost as another of the boys. This doesn't mean she's remained celibate. She's quite discriminating, but she has taken lovers, although none for more than a night. George is enjoying her life too much to have any desire to involve herself in a relationship, much less with Ivo, who is obviously the possessive and domineering kind.
Ivo has other ideas, though, and is willing to do anything to convince George.
I'm a bit conflicted about this one. On one hand, I had huge problems with the hero and with certain other stuff about the story which I felt was lacking (much, much more about that afterwards). On the other, I did like the heroine very much and remained interested in the story all the way through, never feeling tempted to skim or not finish the book.
My main and most important problem was that I didn't really believe in the romance, especially on Ivo's part. Oh, he definitely lusts after George and is incredibly fixated on her. But love? Does he really know her at all? I never saw them talk about anything important, and he seems to want to change pretty much everything about her, except for her looks.
Not to mention, I found Ivo to be a bit of an asshole. George's impression that he is the possessive and domineering kind? Completely right. Early in the book, when they're barely involved at all, he observes how her friends are always at her house and thinks: "There'd be changes ahead if he had anything to say about it, and he had every intention of having that right" He's also an asshole about other stuff. "George would make more than a dream lover... she'd been in training her whole life to make a lord the perfect wife. If he could only bring her round he could have them both: the lady in the drawing room and the whore in the bedroom". Lovely, lovely guy.
The reason I was ok with this as I was reading was that I assumed that these issues would be dealt with. George certainly sees them as problematic, and as I mentioned, they are the reason why she does not want a proper relationship with Ivo initially. But they just aren't. She decides she loves him, and that's that. At the point in the end when she decides that she's going to give in to what he wants, I didn't want her to. I didn't want her to be with him.
My other big issue was that it felt as if a lot had been cut out of the book. The issue of the initial duel, for instance, just disappears, even though it's been set up at the beginning as something really important. The effect of the years of exile on Ivo? Nothing more than a bit tension with his grandfather. He thinks at the beginning that George owes him for what he's given up for her, but just exactly what did he give up? And it's clear George sees things very differently. She didn't ask for Ivo's help. In fact, she would have much preferred it if he'd stayed out of it. She could handle a pesky inebriated Frenchman perfectly well on her own, and in fact, had done so before. Plus, it's suggested that after the duel and the scandal, this had an effect on her relationship with her beloved husband (which was another thing that was underwritten - we're told she love him, but that's that). But do they ever talk about this, Ivo and George? Nope. As far as I could see, at the end of the book, Ivo still thinks he did her a favour and she owes him.
And how about the murder of George's maid? It was ages until she even mentioned that oh, yes, her maid had been killed in a hotel fire. Oh, and her friends! That Brimstone guy, he's hovering around all the time, as if we'd been told enough that we'd be interested in him, but we hadn't. I don't think I know anything at all about him. Not what his problem is, not how he and George became friends, nothing. I don't know, this is not a long book, maybe it needed to be made as short as it is and this was just the case of bad editing?
Another thing I didn't much like is that there's a suspense subplot running in parallel to the love story which was pretty bad. The son of the Frenchman killed in the duel by Ivo wants revenge against George for leading his father to his death (he doesn't seem to particularly care about Ivo, for some strange reason). He tries to kill her a few times in the story, and his antics give both Ivo and George the opportunity to act as twits towards the end, when George and her friends have set up a trap for the unknown killer. Ivo seems to completely forget about it and needlessly puts George in danger. Boring and pointless, I'd much rather Hughes had used the space devoted to this to actually fleshing out some of the underwritten things about the romance.
There are some very good things here, though. George is pretty cool and I want more heroines like her. I loved that she has an unconventional life and very much enjoys it and is unapologetic about it, including her sexuality. And I really appreciated that there isn't any message here that there's anything wrong with her living her life. We're not told she needs a man who will stop her from running wild and save her from herself, or any such nonsense.
I also loved that this is no wallpaper historical. It's set in the 1780s, and the period really comes alive. It's not that there's a lot about the politics and historical events, it's just that the people, the atmosphere, the attitudes, they're all incredibly vivid. The author's note refers to Hughes being very much into her history and verisimilitude and accuracy being important to her. This definitely comes through (although it makes it a bit weird that she has George giving a bunch of her friends' children £5 each to spend doing their Christmas shopping in the village).
Oh, and the other thing I enjoyed was how Hughes managed to keep them apart once they got back to London. Ivo thinks that once they're there, it will be plain sailing, but it turns out that he can barely get a minute alone with George, and his frustration was quite funny. It didn't feel contrived, either.
Even with the negatives being many more than the positives, the positives I liked so much that I'm likely to try Hughes again, even if this one wasn't a complete success.
MY GRADE: A C+.