Harlequin Historical, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-0373-29886-0
Historical Romance, 2016
Oh, now that is a cover that I can get used to. I wish they had sent me the UK version – that guy is blown up a bit bigger in the cover of that edition. I’m still not sure about the face, but I think, neck down, that fellow is worth copping a feel or two.
I’m not sure why this book is called The Many Sins of Cris de Feaux, though, or why the back cover tells me, “Secrets, sins and a scandalous affair”, because the hero Chris de Burgh, er, Cris de Feaux is actually quite nice here. I don’t see him as particularly sinful in any way, and the romance isn’t very scandalous at all. But I suppose the folks marketing this book need a catchy bait to reel in readers, so here we are, all sins and scandals on the packaging.
Anthony Maxim Charles St Crispin de Feaux – calling himself “Tony” is no doubt nowhere as cool as “Cris”, clearly – is our hero. The Marquess of Avenmore is the “Fire” in the author’s Lords of Disgrace
ful Nicknames series because Feaux is… fire? I don’t know, the only French words and phrases I know are not suitable for polite company, so I’d leave the whole translation accuracy thing to people more knowledgeable than me. In this one, Cris starts out almost drowning in the opening, although he can still think sarcastic things while he’s all glug-glug-glug, as, you know, romance heroes are wont to do. Oh, it’s not like he is drowning while trying to save the world – he just miscalculated while swimming. You see, he recently completed a diplomatic mission only to feel all blue over a woman that he can’t shag. Wait, that sentence sounds dirty… anyway, now he’s drowning.
Lo and behold, he is saved by our heroine Tamsyn Perowne. He may have nearly drowned, but he can still paw her and snatch a kiss, as romance heroes are wont to do. I tell you, he’d probably do any woman who saves him during a fire right in the rear end or something. It turns out that Tamsyn lives with her maiden aunts and some household staff who are not exactly trained in karate, and these folks are plagued by suspicious “accidents”. Despite having nearly drowned and is still recovering, Cris makes it his job to step in and help Tamsyn solve her problems. Oh, he gets to shag her in the process, so I suppose he still gets paid in a way.
There is nothing wrong at all with The Many Sins of Cris de Feaux. Just like many instances in the past when the author’s books and myself cross paths, I can’t get excited over this one. Oh, the author tries to have her characters do everything right. Cris is capable and sensible. Despite being cast in the damsel in distress role, Tamsyn is pretty smart and likable, if rather clueless where the bad guy is concerned mostly for the sake of the plot. But everything comes together in a way that feels very familiar. It’s a “Yes, yes, I’ve read this before many times!” kind of familiar. As I’ve mentioned, the author makes the effort to make sure that the tropes and even clichés all fit in a way that largely makes sense, but the end result is still a rather lukewarm read. I roll up my eyes, though, when the author gives Tamsyn a get-out card for her supposed infertility. A childless couple who live happily ever after would still be a reasonable, even natural conclusion to the story, and it could have at least been some kind of not-so-usual development that could have allowed the story to have at least one reason to remember it by.
Anyway, this one is a well-written and readable story, and I have no regrets reading it. I suppose I’m just perplexed by what seems to be the author’s hellbent determination to stay on the familiar path as much as possible, even when there are many organic, natural opportunities for the story to take a different path and become stronger, more memorable for it.