Sourcebooks Casablanca, $7.99 ISBN 978-1-4022-8779-4
Historical Romance, 2014
Captain Luke Wainwright is known as “Lucky” and he behaves like you’d expect a scoundrel with such a nickname to do, much to the dismay of his family. Luke can’t read or write well, not that he’s sorry about that, and he prefers wine, women, and action, preferably all three at the same time and place. He has a history with our heroine Rebecca Sherringham which can seem quite complicated on paper, so bear with me.
About five years ago, Rebecca stormed an inn to confront her brother who was gambling again and wagering things that he had no right to give away. Nathaniel’s gambling buddy happened to be Luke. Luke basically dismissed her as another woman who should be seen and not heard, but Rebecca is never the type of person who pipes down when you tells her to – she will only get louder. So, she became louder that evening, and somehow the whole encounter ended with her owing him a kiss that he’d collect when he came back.
So, today. Luke was thought to be dead in the time between then and now, and his brother had inherited everything from their father. Luke is content to leave things that way, and he knows that his brother Darius would make a far more suitable nobleman than he. He’d rather be free to do his thing, et cetera. Darius wants him to stay and hang around, however, putting Luke in the same social circle as Rebecca again. Rebecca doesn’t mind his kisses, but she isn’t sure that she can trust him, especially when he announces that they are engaged after they are caught doing that tongue thing by the neighborhood busybody and she learns of his father’s will declaring that Luke can only inherit if he marries a proper lady first. Luke thinks that she’s the one for him, however, so can he convince her in time for the happy ending?
As usual, the author’s name on the cover is warning enough that any hint of historical authenticity present is due more to coincidence or the full moon than anything else. Worse, the author cherry picks when she can have her characters abide by social norms (to force them to get engaged, naturally) and when she can ignore those norms to have her characters examine one another’s tonsil and more. Some readers may not be amused, so proceed with caution.
Me, I find this story far more entertaining than the initial awkward and often unnecessarily complicated set up would suggest. A big part of this is because of Luke. I always adore a big lummox of a hero, and this guy is the real deal. He’s not a diamond in the rough, he’s a lump of charcoal and he’s not having it any other way… at least until he starts becoming self conscious about how he would look in Rebecca’s eyes. He’s considerably older than her, so it pricks at his ego when she and other young ladies start whispering he’s old. I like that he tries to do his best to shape up and upstage younger males in her eyes, but with Luke being Luke, the results are often hilarious and sometimes, unexpectedly, poignant.
Rebecca starts out pretty well, as a pragmatic young lady who seems to be quite – quite, not always – sensible, and for the most part she’s the perfect foil to Luke. They play one another beautifully, and the author has a better grip on her comedic timing here, so I find myself often laughing out loud. Do be warned that Rebecca becomes mulish as the story progresses, and it’s hard to take her seriously when she insists that she doesn’t care what society thinks of her only to actually does when she’s caught in her own indiscretion. Her refusal to trust Luke eventually stretches on for too long to be believable, and this part of her starts to appear like a transparent plot device to keep the conflict going.
The author’s pacing also falters now and then, especially in the middle parts of the story. Her characters can spend pages after pages thinking, talking, and agonizing about the same thing over and over.
Still, I’ve had a lot of fun reading Sinfully Ever After, and they do say laughter is the best medicine. This book has some glaring issues, but for the most part I’m too entertained to be bothered too considerably by them.