Grand Central Publishing, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-446-40692-5
Historical Romance, 2008
To Seduce a Sinner is neither a good nor a bad book. It’s just a very boring story with no credible conflict.
The story is pretty simple. Jasper Renshaw, our Viscount Vale, finds himself jilted by a woman for a second time. The first time around, he lost Emeline to Samuel in To Taste Temptation, and when the story shortly opens, he loses another fiancée to a curate. Ah well, he merely likes the woman’s buxom figure anyway, so it’s not like he’s going to start slashing his wrist. Imagine his surprise when Melisande Fleming, our heroine, offers to marry him shortly after the departure of that buxom lass from his life. Vale is like, “Eh, who is this woman again? Still, she’s cute and I should be getting married soon so…”
Ah, but Melisande has a secret. Don’t gasp – she’s in love with Jasper but because she has her heart – among other things – broken before, she’s never going to let him know that she loves him. As for Jasper, he initially expects to have a typical wife in a typical marriage of convenience, but soon he’s finding the wife too adorable for his own good. He also attempts to locate the traitor that betrayed the 28th Regiment of the Foot (see the review of the previous book for more details), but that aspect of the plot is inserted in such a nonchalant “Whatever, wherever!” manner that I can’t muster much enthusiasm to talk about it. What is supposed to be an arc that will span every book in the series is treated as if it’s some inept “Oh look, a bad guy! Time for some drama before the happy ending!” subplot, and I don’t know why.
This book doesn’t have much conflict apart from Melisande’s attempts to get Jasper to give her an orgasm. Now, I applaud her for deciding that she wants at the very least great sex from her marriage, but Melisande, frankly, annoys me. This is a heroine whose great love for the hero is never fully developed, so I have no idea why this woman is so besotted with a man who can’t even remember her name at first. Oh, I know, Melisande saw Jasper comforting his traumatized friend once upon a time and she creates this great romantic fantasy around that scene, with Jasper starring as the woobie of her dreams, but come on! Even by the last page, she barely knows that man! Yes, she makes him feel much better by letting him shag her when he feels randy, but I’d hesitate to call what they have an emotional bond.
Melisande is a pretty selfish heroine in the sense that she is mostly concerned with what she wants from the marriage without thinking of what she can give to Jasper to make the marriage work. Remember, she doesn’t even want to let Jasper know that she loves him. Even when she is out to seduce Jasper, it’s because she wants Jasper to give her an orgasm. When she’s not wondering why Jasper doesn’t shower her with constant love and attention, she’s moping because he’s not making her happy. In the meantime, she doesn’t even try to accommodate his interests in her life – for example, Jasper enjoys the social whirl, but she makes it clear that she doesn’t enjoy such activities and makes no attempt to even try. It’s all “Me, me, me! Love me! Cherish me! Give me! Me, me, me!” where Melisande is concerned. The relationship isn’t about compromise, instead it’s all about what she wants from the husband. And given how different these two characters are in terms of personality, personal interests, and what not, I have my doubts about the longevity of a marriage based on such superficial form of attraction.
Jasper is a nice hero. He’s indeed the definition of a woobie – a happy-go-lucky rogue who tries very hard to hide his inner demons from everyone around him – and a charming one at that. It’s a pity that he’s stuck in a shallow relationship where his prime asset that attracts the wife is his ability to give a woman multiple orgasms.
To Seduce a Sinner just doesn’t bring on the magic, I’m afraid.