The Leopard Prince

The Raven Prince

The Serpent Prince

To Seduce A Sinner
by Elizabeth Hoyt
(Forever, $6.99, R) ISBN 0446-40692-9
To Seduce A Sinner is an entertaining story and the reader won’t be disappointed if they pick up this book.

The story opens as a hung-over Jasper Renshaw, Viscount Vale sits in the vestry of the church while his bride-to-be begs off just minutes before the wedding. It seems she has met a curate and has fallen in love. When she exits, another woman enters. He remembers her face, because she is a friend of another former fiancée of his, but he can’t remember her name.  She offers to marry him. 

Melisande Fleming is almost an old maid and has no prospects.  She was engaged once, but her fiancé left her for another woman with more money and connections.  Melisande has watched Jasper from afar all these years and has fallen in love with him.  She is sure she can be a good wife and that he will eventually fall in love with her, or at least allow her to love him. 

Jasper agrees and they marry.  Now they have to live with each other. Jasper has secrets and he is sure he can hide his true self from his bride. He lived through the war in America with the French and Indians, barely.  His group was attacked following the harrowing battle for Quebec and the Indians tortured and/or killed most of his men.  He came away unharmed in body but not in soul.  Jasper sleeps on a pallet with his back to the wall and barely sleeps at all. He hates the night. He is also certain that their regiment was betrayed and he is determined to find the traitor and bring justice to his men. 

Melisande, meanwhile, has a past too. She is not a virgin, having given herself to her previous fiancé and is a wanton in bed; Jasper is pleasantly surprised. But she has also had to learn to blend into the wall during the day, as she was never one who stood out.  Jasper finds her intriguing. As with newlyweds, the two have much to discover and find themselves at odds at times. One of the difficulties I had with the tale was the time setting. This story occurred in 1765, yet read like a much more modern tale. Other than the fact they traveled in carriages and used candles, there was little to set the time.

The story moved slowly at times, with little action. There was a lot of internal dialogue by the two that was revealing but not very enervating.  When they were together, the pages flew by, as they bantered and discussed and heated up the pages with their passion.  Their passion was often detailed. The mystery of the traitor is the primary background and the journey takes them to see several of Jasper’s former men including one of his friends, Matthew Horn, and a recluse in Scotland named Sir Alistair Munroe. During these journeys they learn about each other and do indeed fall in love.

There is a nice secondary story involving Mr Pynch, Jasper’s man and Sally Suchlike, Melisande’s maid. This side plot added some humor and was a cute little tale in itself. 

I truly enjoyed their story. Melisande is a strong woman, having had to stand up for herself at times. She is determined to make a good marriage with Jasper and didn’t hesitate to confront him when he needed confronting. Jasper is at times weak and vulnerable but comes on strong when he needs to; his male instincts to protect take over at times.  He is not endearing at first, but as the reader is given insights into his inner struggles, he becomes more sympathetic and hence, loveable. 

To Seduce A Sinner is a bit of a mixed bag, but ultimately, it’s a solid story with an engaging romance.    

--Shirley Lyons

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