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Sin With A Scoundrel
by Sara Bennett
(Avon, $7.99, PG) ISBN 978-006-133919-6
**
My experience with Sara Bennett novels is a hit or miss experience. There are moments of great fun mixed with moments of tedium. She often lets the pace drag for too long before ending with a nicely wrapped up story. This latest entry in the Husband Hunters Club fills out those expectations.

Sin with a Scoundrel is the tale of finishing school graduate Clementina Smythe, known to all as Tina. She has set her sights on her long time neighbor and friend to the family Lord Horace Gilfoyle. As an aside, every romance reader knows that the hero cannot be named Horace, so we are assured that something or someone will get in the way of true love. That person is Richard Eversham, a rake who has a reputation of helping other men find their way to convincing a woman to marry. He teaches seduction, so Tina decides he is her best bet to get Horace from looking at her as a sister and finding her attractive enough to marry. Complicating things is the fact that Tina’s father has lost their fortune and without her marrying well, they will be destitute.

More complications soon arise, when it becomes clear that Richard is more than he seems. In fact, he is involved in a secret espionage branch of the government and is looking for a notorious criminal named the Captain; a man who killed Richard’s brother for discovering his identity and who may be behind multiple crimes. Lord Gilfoyle seems to be involved in some of the mess.

So Tina finds herself being used by Richard to get to Gilfoyle, who really doesn’t want to marry her. And when Tina realizes that Richard is not only teaching her to seduce but is in fact, seducing her, she is lost. The plotlines take us to several house parties, all of which involve intrigue and moments of seduction. All of which also seem at times, far-fetched and often plodding. There are others involved that actually engage the reader. The story between Tina’s maid and Richard’s valet/man of business is actually enjoyable.

I struggled through much of this book, having to convince myself to keep reading. The ending picked up momentum but it was too little to completely save the book. Tina is inconsistent – at times pragmatic and at times, nonsensical. Richard is a generally good hero, but he too often lets his heart get carried away without keeping his trek for justice in his head. If he was really a spy, we might be in trouble.

Sin with a Scoundrel is a tale that has some interesting components but also has many moments of incongruity and frankly, a bit of a boring tedium that bogged down the tale. Sara Bennett has written better stories and the reader would be better off seeking out one of those.

--Shirley Lyons


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