To Seduce a Sinner
by Elizabeth Hoyt
Release Date: November 1, 2008
Book #2 in the Legend of the Four Soldiers series
Number of Pages: 406
Ages 15 and up
CW: PTSD, perpetuation stereotypes re: indigenous people,
miscarriage, torture, war/violence
Jasper Renshaw, Viscount Vale, has a problem: he needs to marry and produce an heir to the title. All Jasper wants is to find a lady who will put up with him long enough to wed so he can retreat to his life of debauchery—a life that keeps the haunting memories of his past at bay. Knowing that Jasper is under pressure to marry, Melisande Fleming grasps her fate with both hands and volunteers to wed him. Although Jasper is initially only interested in producing an heir, he soon becomes entranced by his wife—prim and proper by day, wanton by night—and vows to learn her secrets.
Melisande, however, is determined to keep her husband at a distance. She has loved and lost before, and will do anything to keep him from learning her terrible weakness: She’s secretly been in love with him for years. But to her chagrin, her husband pursues her, wooing her as if she were a paramour, not his lady wife. As Melisande and Jasper embark on a passionate game of cat and mouse, secrets from the past begin to resurface … threatening to tear them asunder.
Another Elizabeth Hoyt book I didn’t want to put down. Now that I’ve read a few of her stories, there are things I notice she does that I love. At the beginning of her books, the characters aren’t much impressed by the looks of each other. As the stories progress and the characters get to know each other, they cannot believe they ever thought the other plain or boring. I just love that! It gets me every time.
Although this pairing starts as a marriage of convenience, Jasper wants to get started on producing heirs and Melisande offers to marry him because she is also ready to start a family, it is well established that Melisande is hopelessly in love with Jasper before she even makes her offer. So, while the first part of this book shows a lot of Jasper becoming enthralled with his new wife, we are in the position of being told about Melisande’s feelings. That was a worry for a bit, but once it is obvious (at least to the reader) that Jasper is just as in love with his wife as she is with him, the narrative starts showing the emotions of both characters. In the end, I’m glad the author wrote the story this way. I sometimes get uncomfortable when it seems one character’s feelings are so much stronger than the other’s.
There was a bit of discomfort on my part when it came to some of the discussion about the indigenous people who attacked and captured Jasper and others from his regiment. This story takes place in 1765 so I realize many white people had a particular view of the native people of North America, so I tried to keep that perspective. Plus, to Jasper’s mind, these were his enemy in a war he was fighting. I’ll admit to being relieved when the author also included a conversation between Jasper and another man who had been with him as a captive of the Wyandot tribe. I don’t want to give spoilers, but this man helps Jasper see that different cultures have different customs and there are plenty of customs in so-called civilized societies that are quite brutal.
Going back to the love growing between Melisande and Jasper, I just loved it all. Jasper’s assumptions about Melisande on their wedding night and Melisande later taking control of the situation in the bedroom to get what she wanted and needed. Jasper’s pet names for Melisande seemed to have started as a way to convince others that they are deeply in love which morphed into the reader knowing Jasper meant it when he called her “my heart” or “my sweet”. There is a scene where Melisande is shaving Jasper that is so sensual and nearly melted my Kindle all without the couple even touching. *chef’s kiss*
On top of the yummy goodness of Melisande and Jasper falling in love, there is a side story that involves his valet and her lady’s maid that is so sweet and lovely and added a lot of richness to the overall story for me.
I’m just recently getting back into historical romance so I wouldn’t have said I have a favorite author in the genre. Until now. I’ve loved all of this author’s work I’ve read so far and look forward to reading all of her back library.