>> Thursday, September 13, 2012
TITLE: Sinful in Satin
AUTHOR: Madeline Hunter
SETTING: 19th century England
SERIES: 3rd in the Rarest Bloom series (follows Ravishing in Red and Provocative in Pearls).
When famed London courtesan Alessandra Northrope passes away, her daughter Celia Pennifold inherits little more than a hopelessly contaminated reputation, a house in a middle class neighborhood, and an education that prepared her to take her mother’s place the way Alessandra intended. Celia hopes to make her own life on her own terms, however, and moves into the house only to discover one more legacy—an enigmatic, handsome tenant who knows her mother’s plans for her future rather too well.The Rarest Bloom series revolves around a group of four women who, until book 1, lived together very quietly in a property just outside London. That property belongs to one of them, Daphne, who took in the other three when they needed it. All four women clearly have secrets, and the reason they can live so peacefully together is that they have a pact not to ask questions. They each know the others are there to offer support if needed, but they won't be interrogated, whatever happens.
Jonathan thinks he is on a simple mission to discover whether Celia’s mother left accounts of her lovers that might embarrass important men. Instead he finds himself embroiled in a mystery full of dangerous betrayals and secrets, old and new, that touch on his life as well as Celia’s.
Celia Pennifold's secret is that she's the daughter of a notorious courtesan. All her life, as she was growing up, she knew she was supposed to follow in her mother's footsteps, and she was trained accordingly. But right before taking that last step and choosing her first protector, Celia changed her mind. She ran away, and was taken in by Daphne. She's been living there for the last five years, but now her mother is dead, and although she hasn't left her the answer to the question Celia has been asking since she was born, about her father, she has left her daughter a house.
What Celia doesn't know is that her mother had a tenant, who's still in the house. That tennant is Jonathan Albrighton, who works for the government and has been tasked with finding some Very Important papers which his employers believe Celia's mother might have had. Celia's arrival, and her decision to stay in the house, complicate matters slightly, as does the attraction between them.
I quite liked this book while I was reading it. It wasn't much of a page-turner, and there were a couple of slow bits I had to slog through, but Hunter's writing is a cut above the average romance writer, and Celia and Jonathan were interesting. Celia's someone who has had to become a pragmatist because of the way she was raised, which allowed for no illusions. That's not her nature, however, and meeting Jonathan makes her want to hope. I also liked Jonathan, a man who takes his job seriously, but whose growing feelings for Celia make him reluctant to do what's supposed to be his duty.
Much as I liked this at the time, however, it was a bit forgettable. I read it some time ago (yep, this was one review that fell through the cracks) and the only reason I remember what I liked about Celia and Jonathan is because I'd written a few notes which I've now shaped into this review. The characters and their relationship didn't make much of a lasting impression on me.
Also, there's a big niggle that has been there since the beginning of the series, and that is Castleford, a secondary character who tends to come in and save the day in this series. I keep getting the feeling with him that I'm supposed to find him incredibly sexy, but I find his brand of debauchery quite repulsive. Book 4 is about him and Daphne, and I'm really not sure I want to read it.
MY GRADE: A B-.