by Cara Elliott, historical (2010)
Grand Central Publishing, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-446-54129-9
Cara Elliott is not exactly a new author as she has previously published under the names Andrea Pickens and Andrea DaRif. Perhaps it is the hope that third time is the charm that sees To Sin With A Scoundrel packed to the brim with so many familiar stereotypes and clichés. Perhaps everyone involved in this book is hoping that something will stick if you throw everything at the reader.
Lucas Bingham, the Earl of Hadley, is a male slut who apparently can't seem to spend 10 minutes without sticking it into some floozy. Ciara Sheffield is a widow who had not only a terrible marriage but also nasty relatives and plenty of insinuation that she poisoned her late husband. When Lucas needs to help his uncle get her to decipher an old manuscript that could be written by Herodotus, he does so by breaking into her room, discovering her book of raunchy images (every fashionable romance heroine has one nowadays), making lewd comments at her that has me wondering where his much-vaunted charm has gone, kissing and pawing at her, and leaving her shivering in delight even as she tells herself that the whole thing must never happen again.
Meanwhile, the heroine is convinced that her spectacular body and flaming red hair make her an ugly hag because, really, her nasty late husband who drank too much said so and we all know he wouldn't be wrong. She also belongs to a group of academic women who soon turn into full-fledged cheerleaders as they insist that Lucas is the one for her and they want details - every detail. Lucas bonds with her son. Lucas realizes that he is actually empty inside and he needs the love of an idiot woman like Ciara to make him whole.
There is also a fake relationship thing that turns very real, evil villains that cackle and tell all before embarrassing themselves spectacularly, plenty moments of the heroine succumbing to her lust only to castigate herself afterward, and emo moments from the hero.
I like the fact that Lucas is allowed to be a rogue without being saddled with tedious family issues or other kinds of cheap justification for his antics, but that's about the only halfway interesting thing I find about this story. To Sin With A Scoundrel is an uninspiring collection of every trope that has been used in stories of this kind, and the end result is a forgettable read.
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