Saturday, April 5, 2008

Slightly Sinful

Title: Slightly Sinful
Author: Mary Balogh
Genre: Historical Romance

As the fires of war raged around him, Lord Alleyne Bedwyn was thrown from his horse and left for dead—only to awaken in the bedchamber of a ladies' brothel. Suddenly the dark, handsome diplomat has no memory of who he is or how he got there—yet of one thing he is certain: The angel who nurses him back to health is the woman he vows to make his own. But like him, Rachel York is not who she seems. A lovely young woman caught up in a desperate circumstance, she must devise a scheme to regain her stolen fortune. The dashing soldier she rescued from near-death could be her savior in disguise. There is just one condition: she must pose as his wife—a masquerade that will embroil them in a sinful
scandal, where a man and a woman court impropriety with each daring step...with every taboo kiss that can turn passionate strangers into the truest of lovers.
The person who said there is no such thing as too much of a good thing... is wrong. Sometimes enough is enough. When I first started reading the Bedwyn series I was so excited. I love a good series. I have this severe OCD that insists I start at the beginning and read the books chronologically. It absolutely drives me crazy if I read a new book only to discover it is part of a larger series (unless I lucked out and grabbed book number one, of course.) There is just something so satisfying about following characters you love through their world, seeing them evolve. But I digress. The Bedwyns. Too much of a good thing. There are just too many siblings.

OK, maybe it is not that there are too many Bedwyns, and more the problem that Ms. Balogh has too few plots. Out of the six books three or four have the same plot device: the fake engagement (the FE). Come now, Ms. Balogh, you are better than that. I know there are the standard recycled plot devices commonly used in romance novels. Individual writers may use the same one in more than one of their stories. It is just lazy to use it four times in a row in a series. Did you think your readers would not notice?

That is not to say the book was bad. If I had not recently read the two books that preceded Slightly Sinful (Slightly Tempted & Slightly Scandalous) I most likely would have found this to be a fun, thoroughly enjoyable read. Instead I was disappointed by the lack of originality.

The two main characters, Alleyne and Rachel, were your conventional historical romance H&h. She was young-ish, innocent, with a past that has left her in dire straights (financially, not the band. That would just be weird.) He is the brother of a Duke who is independently wealthy, but has not found his path in life. He is hit by a bullet, falls from his horse, and is left naked and dying upon the fields of Waterloo. She finds him, takes him home and nurses him to health. He has no memory. (Pesky bump to the head!) He is still noble. She is still poor. But wait! She is an heiress who will come into her fortune on her 25th birthday or upon her marriage. A scheme is hatched. He shall pose as her husband so she can receive her fortune. Blah blah...

The romance is started slowly, which I can appreciate. Then suddenly... SEX! And it was not good sex. It was disappointing sex (for the reader and the characters.) No I don't believe that sex should be a perfect bliss filled moment every time for every character, especially when she is a virgin. However, it should happen at a point in the story where is feels natural. This felt forced on the reader. eh. They work it out. Things get better. HEA

The aspect of this booked that saved it from being completely banal were the secondary characters. Rachel is taken in by her former childhood nurse who is now working as a lady of the evening. Ok, she is a whore. Not my word. Ms. Balogh refers to them as such repeatedly. I think this is her attempt to be all "they are WHORES, but truly lovely people. Don't judge a book by it's cover!" The four lady birds are hilarious. If only the heroine were as fabulous. Feisty, fresh and fun. They fit together like the pieces of a puzzle, each with her own strengths. In addition, there is a former military sergeant who has taken on the duties of valet for our hero. He is not your standard issue valet. He continuously offers his unsolicited opinion and is ready to act as bouncer for all of his new friends. He's big, burly, and wears an eye patch. How could you not love that? Even Rachel's uncle is a dear. You are lead to believe he is a cold, hard man. In the end you love him. Without these characters I would have lost interest in the book. They kept me reading. If only Ms. Balogh had imbued her H&h with as much vitality as this supporting cast.

Overall, the book was not terrible, but it was not great. Some scenes seemed to be drawn out endlessly, while other were rushed through or glossed over. I have enjoyed other installments of this series far more. Check out Slightly Married. I am half tempted to skip the final installment, but there is that OCD, again. I'm only one book away from finishing it all. Can I possibly stop now? I'll have to think hard on this. In the meantime, I think I may take a hiatus from historical romance. I may have ODed. I just can not connect with the heroines any longer. Have I hit my saturation point or am I simply getting too old to relate to an 18-22 year old virgin who has barely even spoken with a man? Ooh. Maybe it's not the age, but the lack of experience. Perhaps I am too much of a hussy to relate :)

Grade: B- (without the supporting cast this would have been a C at best)

1 comment:

Kate said...

Oh, bummer...I'm just to that one in the series, and my slight OCD won't let me not read it. I did enjoy ...Tempted and ...Wicked was ok, except I still just don't like Freyja. But I'm looking forward to eventually getting to Wulf's story at the end. He's so bland, godawful, and cold that he must get a real turnabout eventually.