|George must be the new black for historical romance heroines.
Georgianna Exley, the heroine of Kalen Hughes’s debut novel Lord Sin is the third I’ve come across who answers to that nickname. She is by far the least likeable, and her story is the least interesting. I
don’t think I can blame it on her name. This George would definitely
sound as bad with any other.
Six years ago, Ivo Dauntry killed a French nobleman in a duel he
fought in defense of George’s honor. As a result, he was exiled from
England, and she lost her husband’s trust. Now, he is back in
England, and she is the merriest widow of them all. Surrounded by a
host of young admirers, she never grants her lovers more than one
night in her bed. There are several vague hints why she behaves this
way, but nothing is ever elucidated. It doesn’t really matter because
before you can say “George,” let alone “Georgianna,” a very different
set of hints start appearing. These suggest that she never was half
as lustful as portrayed. No attempt is made to reconcile or justify
these two rather different portraits.
In the meantime, Ivo has convinced George that he deserves at least
six nights for those six years (about which we learn absolutely
nothing). Our lustful widow, who has been sighing how she can’t trust
any man and vowing how she won’t let any man order her about,
immediately concedes. Yet another example of how incoherent and half-
baked this character is.
We are given a generous tasting of their passionate nocturnal
encounters. These lusty, down-to-earth sex scenes are probably the
best part of the novels. Still, it would have helped if they actually
fed into a story or told us something about the characters. But hey,
what do I know? I’m just a romance reader!
Things go fine and dandy for Ivo and George, which may be good for
the couple but bad for the story. Hughes makes it worse for both. She
throws a wrench into the machine and not a particularly imaginative
one at that. Ivo gets an alleged fiancée, George gets wind of it, and
we immediately get the picture. Once that’s settled, there’s another
bogus detour involving a vengeful murderer. The only thrills it will
produce is that of finally seeing the end approach.
The story is set in England of the late 1780s, but other than a vague
reference to aristocratic entertainment and an occasional mention of
contemporary Gothic literature, the setting is, at best,
undistinguishable; at worst, it is anachronistic.
I’m sure Hughes is planning a come-back featuring one of the single
men who plays court to George. I hope she puts a little more thought
into plotting her story and drawing her characters because she does
write good sex scenes and her other descriptions aren’t too bad.
Still, it takes more than words on a page to tell a good story. It
takes some thought and planning. This time round I see little
evidence of either.