Sinful in Satin, by Madeline Hunter

>> Thursday, September 13, 2012

TITLE: Sinful in Satin
AUTHOR: Madeline Hunter

PAGES: 368

SETTING: 19th century England
TYPE: Romance
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.

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.
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.

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.



Anonymous,  15 September 2012 at 04:45  

Book 4 in the series "Dangerous In Diamonds" is actually my favourite. Once Castleford got his own book I found him the most interesting of the heroes in that series. He is quite funny and he and Daphne are surprisingly touching together.

Though I totally understand that his sexual mores may be too much for a lot of readers.

Rosario 15 September 2012 at 08:14  

I'm definitely going to read it and see how it goes.

It wasn't so much his promiscuity that was a turn-off, it was the fact that the message I was getting was "Hawt!! Bet you can't wait to read about this manliest of men, reader!". That's what annoyed me, I think.

Anonymous,  15 September 2012 at 16:13  

I remember thinking when I found out that Castleford was going to get his own book - hmm, how is Hunter going to turn this meddling and high handed alcoholic man whore who had been basically the deux ex machina in the previous books into a viable hero?

And Hunter certainly exceeded my expectations. Well, hope you enjoy.

Vinagrinhos 15 September 2012 at 22:03  

I used to love Hunter but the last books I've read by her left me a bit disappointed and I ended up never getting to this series... would you say the first two are better than this one?

Rosario 16 September 2012 at 07:41  

cyberducks: Since that's exactly how I feel, then that sounds great! Thanks!

Ana: I remember really liking the first two books. They were B+ reads for me.

Vinagrinhos 16 September 2012 at 20:39  

Ok, adding them to my TBR list ;-)

Susan/DC,  21 September 2012 at 18:27  

A little late to the game, but I actually liked Castleford much more than I expected when he appeared in his own book. He's smart and funny, and he's more self-aware than he'd like (he in fact works hard not to be too contemplative). But I found Daphne's actions unbelievable because they contradicted her character as presented in the earlier books. She's a sexual pushover, for example. It's bad enough when the first three books show her caring for women who were victims of male manipulation, but when you learn her own backstory, it's even more inexplicable. I'd have liked her, and the book, much more if her relationship with Castleford were more evenly balanced instead of him saying jump and her asking how high.

Rosario 22 September 2012 at 09:05  

Susan/DC: That does sound like a shame. She comes across as someone with quite a strong backbone in the first three books, definitely not the kind of person to let herself be steamrolled by Castleford.

Anonymous,  24 September 2012 at 00:57  

I don't know, Susan/DC, Daphne wasn't as charismatic and funny as the sly and manipulative Castleford but I thought she was a pretty strong-willed character in her own right. She got Castleford to make a lot of concessions for her (when he had to prove to her he didn't have any STDs I was laughing and going good for her. He made more concessions for her than she did for him. And the revenge she took on you-know-who was quite brave and not the act of a coward. I will give you that realistically somebody with Daphne's past might not be as eager as she was for sexy times with Castleford but he was after all quite considerate and patient with her, and he was after all Castleford, grin.

Unknown 30 September 2012 at 20:38  

Hi Rosario! I have only read Castleford's book in this series, but I can tell you, Hunter was absolutely brilliant!
Castleford is the star of the book and it was such a joy to read it! The history is funny, romantic, sexy and a kinda acid.. hehehe. You'll enjoy it!

Rosario 4 October 2012 at 06:27  

Gisele: Yep, I think I need to hurry up and read it, then!

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