Ivy, $6.99, ISBN 0-345-48009-0
Historical Romance, 2005
Oh dear. Gaelen Foley’s latest, One Night of Sin is one that I find a little too high on sex, skanky or nice, and too little on substance. I have nothing against sex, as most people used to my ramblings on this website will know, but I wish there is a little more emotional connection between the hero Alec Knight and our intrepid heroine Becky Ward.
Becky Ward is an impressive heroine. Her half-Russian cousin Prince Mikhail Kurkov has brought a personal army of fiends to murder, pillage, plunder, and loot the hapless people of Becky’s corner of Yorkshire. Mikhail also threatens Becky with rape and worse but Becky ends up fleeing her home to look for the aid of the Duke of Westland. The Duke, who is the local magistrate, is away in London, however. The poor exhausted young lady falls asleep on the portico of a mansion only to wake up to find herself mistaken for a prostitute by Alec and his buddies. She fights off those horny men very well indeed, enough to impress Alec into wanting to find out more about her.
Alec, who is last seen being the kept man of some rich noblewoman in Devil Takes a Bride, is at a crossroads of sorts. And we all know that when you want to reexamine the way you live your life, you always hang out with drunk jerks who will turn into rapists at the drop of a hat. He decides that he must be honorable enough to marry Becky after their, um, One Night of Sin (why have sex in the first place then, sheesh?) but he is so torn by the fact that he is a gambler and a gigolo that he spends nearly the whole book wallowing in tedious self-pity.
Becky sometimes seems too much like a superhero – or at least a ninja – but I like her despite her coming close to being some cartoon character. She, at least, is strong and keeps a level head despite being besieged by very real threats to all she holds dear. Because of this, I find it even harder to tolerate Alec’s repetitious and tedious pity-party. It seems very wrong that Becky, who has all the right to be even more whiny than Alec, has to be the one to often hold Alec steady while Alec, besieged by trivial and self-indulgent issues, often acts as if his own problems are greater than Becky’s. Alec’s only redeeming feature, in this story, is his stamina and expertise in the bedroom.
Ms Foley’s attempt to redeem Alec is disappointing. There is very little to Alec’s road to redemption other than his constant whining and self-pity after his sole (and to me, abrupt) act of honor in wanting to marry Becky after he has slept with her. Instead of showing me why and how Alec wants to change for the better, Ms Foley instead portrays Alec’s provider as a nasty skanky villainess, as if that will somehow magically shift the responsibility of Alec’s actions from his own self to Lady Campion. I remember once that Ms Foley allows her villainesses to be poignant human beings. Now, I don’t know what happened. Between Lady Campion and Prince Mikhail, there is enough skanky nastiness in this book to make a strong case for democracy and the end of aristocracy. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough for a memorable and credible tale of redemption and the healing power of love.
Ms Foley concentrates too much on villainy and sex in this book, often at the expense of Alec’s credible redemption and his relationship with Becky. I really like Becky the Superheroine but in this relationship, she comes off very lop-sidedly as the strong, sane, and sensible one of the two. Thus, I have to wonder what she is doing with Alec. One Night of Sin may be sinful but the event itself is truly forgettable.