Title: Lord Sin
Author: Kalen Hughes
Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian)
Stand Alone/ series: Book 1 of Rakes of London series.
Summary: SIX NIGHTS OF PLEASURE . . .Georgianna Exley’s passionate nature has always been her undoing-and for this reason the beautiful young widow allows her lovers only a single night in her bed. But Ivo Dauntry has come home to England, and for him she’ll break her most sacred rule: granting him six nights of sensual bliss, one for every year he’s given up for her . . .
SIX YEARS TO WAIT . . .As a gentleman born, Ivo risked his reputation and his life in a duel to defend Georgianna’s honor. Now, returned from exile, Ivo discovers that she has proved to be less than a lady . . . and soon, his daring seduction becomes a sensual contest of wills. But the long-ago duel that bound them forever has fueled the hatred of a madman determined to make Georgianna pay for her misdeeds with her life, and once again, Ivo must risk everything to save the woman he loves . . .
Why did I read this book: I have seen a lot of talk about it lately and I was curious to see what it was all about.
First, I saw this book reviewed by the Smart Bitches. Then the wonderful Kmont from Lurv a La Mode told me she really enjoyed it. And when I saw the author, guest talking over at the Word Wenches about Georgian fashion and clothes, I finally decided to give it a go. Lord Sin caught me completely by surprise.
Six years ago, in Paris, Ivo Dauntry was completely infatuated with Georgianna Exley, a lovely married lady. One day, a drunken gentleman makes unwanted advances on her and Ivo as a knight in shinning armor, fights a duel in her honor. The matter was hushed as much as possible but Ivo’s family was not particularly thrilled at the thought of a potential scandal so Ivo ended up exiled and alone. But never bitter for he thought defending her virtue had been worth it.
Now six years later, back in England to assume the role of heir to his grandfather, still unwelcomed by his family, he sees her. At a boxing match (a place where women do not belong), escorted by someone that is most certainly NOT her husband. He learns then that she is not only a widow but the most outrageous widow in England. It is time for bitterness fiesta for Ivo who finally starts to think he may have lost 6 years for nothing and that the woman he has dreamed about since Paris does not exist.
And she certainly doesn’t. There is nothing missish or innocent about Georgianna, or George as she is called by her mates. In fact, she still thinks the whole duel thing was over the top and that she could have handled the problem herself, thanks very much.
And this is where Lord Sin shines the most. In what other reviewers have called an inversion of roles, in this book the heroine is the rake! Spending her days with her male friends at her house , which has become sort of a club for gentlemen. George smokes, talks trash, shoots, hunts and goes to places no other women dare to. She is the one that has had several lovers (one night stands, all of them) and who lives a life (of seemly) dissipation, in the outskirts of society. She is having a good time and if I were born in Georgian times, I would so want to be friends with her – George’s place is probably the coolest place to hang.
But what we have here is not only an inversion of roles but also I believe, a complete subversion of the romance genre and of the “rules” I have seen so very often: the honorable/innocent heroine that falls in love first against her better judgment, the hero that is a reprobate rake, the build up to the sex scene where they both “learn” some deep truth (the innocent that melts the rake’s heart, the BSE – Best Sex Ever – that makes the hero want the heroine to be HIS, etc).
In Lord Sin, Ivo is the one besotted at first glance, who carries that chip in his shoulders for as long as he can remember. He is the one who struggles with the passion he feels for her whilst at the same time being grossed out and horrified by her antics and life style.
The lust they feel for each other from the get go is another part of the subversion: they really DO act on it and feel it completely. Many times I have read of couples lusting for the other without realistic manifestation of said lust. Here, there is not only the physical aspect of lust (Ivo for example, walks around with a hard on for most of the book. The poor guy, it must be painful) but it becomes an integral part of their story – the book is very sensual – and they are already lovers before page 70. Furthermore, it is the heroine that is the temptress here, she is the experienced lover and the one to knock his socks off in their first sex scene. She is not a shy mademoiselle, oh, no sir. George is the one to seduce and to make the hero shake – a complete role reversal as I have ever seen. She is set on getting the best out of their arrangement and she will do so.
And she believes in this arrangement, where she will give him six nights of sex, one for each year he lost because of her and be done with it. She fully expects to get rid of her itch for him within this time. Not only because she fully enjoys her independence but also because she really loved her late husband and truly thinks a love like that only comes once in a lifetime.
Ivo and George then become lovers right at the start of the game without much build up and this is another thing I feel, differs from the usual romance novels , where the sex is usually a point of no return with a lot of tense scenes leading up to it. The tension here is rather to see if Ivo can use theirs six nights together to change her mind and make their liaison more permanent. And he is the one who has to make a choice on whether accept her as she is – this is a rake that is not looking for redemption (even if the hero would think otherwise) and at one point he must decide if he can love her for what she is.
This is a much shorter story than the usual with less than 300 pages which can probably account for some of the peeves I had with the book. I felt for example, that there was a lack of emotional depth in the development of their love story. I would have liked to know more about Ivo’s six years of exile and how it has changed him or how exactly that was such a big problem that he had to keep away for so long. I would have liked to see George’s feelings towards him more clearly. There are a couple of emotional moments between George and her best friend Gabriel when I truly believed they loved and cared for each other and that I wished could have been shared by Ivo and George as well. There is also a secondary plot with a villainous villain who is seeking revenge against one of George’s past mistakes. I thought that plot line could have been taken off entirely and those precious pages used to further develop the emotional side of the story.
But nonetheless, minor issues aside, this is a very good debut and I absolutely loved George. It seems we are getting more and more incredible heroines these days (see Joanna Bourne’s Spymaster’s Lady and Loretta Chase’s Your Scandalous Ways just to mention a couple) . Word of caution: I would not recommend this book to everyone specially those who have problems with more experienced heroines. Also, there is no mush in this book: they never even exchange words of love – we do know they love each other and they do know so as well but the words never come out of their mouths. But they do end up together and happy and George is still George.
And the epilogue only confirms the old adage: (somewhat) reformed rakes do make the best…..wives.
Notable quotes/ Parts: After mucking up his first marriage proposal to George (to which she says no), Ivo decides he has had enough of her indecision, of his indecision and just grabs her and carries her over his shoulder making a spectacle of themselves at the Vauhxall Gardens. But at that point (this is the very last scene) he is past caring and only wants her to be his. This scene is funny and it’s even more cool by the fact that the author gives a shout out to one of my favorite Shakespeare’s Plays: The Taming of the Shrew which is very appropriate to the couple at hand. Ivo, instead of trying to convince her with love words, or by throwing himself on his knees and propose again, only carries her off, puts her down and says:
“Well, curst Katharina?” (…)
“Yes, – the very word I’ve been waiting for”
Verdict: Steamy and I thought rather distinct from other romances I have read. Great debut and I will keep my eyes open for other books by this author. In fact, I have already read book 2, Lord Scandal and it is equally as good. If you want something different, you should definitely pick this up.
Rating: 6, good, leaning towards a 7. If I were to rate the heroine and the set up alone it would have been an 8.
Reading next: Undead and Unpopular by MaryJanice Davidson