Releases May 1, 2010
In Victorian England vice of every kind can be purchased, and Matthew, the Earl of Wallingford, makes certain he avails himself of every possible pleasure. Bored and jaded, he is as well-known for his coldness as for his licentious affairs with beautiful women.
While these numerous dalliances fulfill Matthew's every physical need, they secretly leave him numb and emotionally void. Until one night when he finds himself beaten, eyes bandaged and in the care of a nurse with the voice of an angel - and a gentle touch that soothes the darkness in him and makes him yearn for more.
Yet Jane Rankin is a lowly nurse, considered shy and plain by most. There is no place for her amongst the lords and ladies of the aristocracy - despite Matthew's growing craving for the fire that burns behind her earnest facade. And then there is Matthew's secret. A secret so humiliating and scandalous it could destroy everyone he loves. A sin, he fears, not even the love of a good woman can take away.
Publisher: HQN Spice
Genre: Erotic Historical Romance
Single Title/Series: SINFUL is loosely tied to its predecessor, ADDICTED, but can easily be read as a stand alone novel.
Cover Thoughts: One of my favorite aspects about this cover is how wonderfully unique it is. It stands out making other historical covers look almost generic compared to the masculine simplicity that is SINFUL. My only gripe: I wish he could have been tanner. He's just a little too pasty for my taste. Otherwise love the tight ass, broad shoulders, and overall bodily tension.
Why I Read It: I was offered an Advanced Review Copy by the author
Matthew, the Earl of Wallingford, is a man of complete and utter vice. Rather than play the hypocrite and act the gentleman by day and rogue by night, Wallingford shrugs off the bother and instead fuels his insatiable rakehell reputation all hours of every day. The fact of the matter is that he knows he's damaged goods and completely beyond repair, besides, his jaded soul isn't worth any one's saving. His is a black and broken heart that annoyingly continues to beat within his chest while he sulks about his life from shadow to shadow. But when he's attacked, picked clean of his identity and left for dead in the raunchy East End of London, an angel named Jane is about to shine a blinding light upon all the gnarled wounds of his aching soul.
Jane Rankin has been incredibly fortunate in what could have easily been a very unfortunate life and she doesn't take any of it for granted. Born a bastard, Jane's aristocratic father turned out his own young child along with her mistress mother onto the streets when he married, forcing Jane to endure what no child should ever have to experience. Thankfully she was taken in by Lady Blackwood, an elderly Victorian feminist who believes in independence and self-sufficiency. For fourteen years, Jane has been Lady Blackwood's lady's companion and just when she thought she knew herself in all her entirety, a beautiful dark angel lands practically into her lap while nursing at London College Hospital. Knowing that Lady Blackwood won't be there for her forever, Jane has pursued a career in nursing and it's not just a means to an end either, Jane loves her job and empowers a strict code of honor where her patients are concerned. But when a sinfully handsome patient becomes her charge, Jane feels a deeply repressed part of herself awakening as his deep timbered voice sensually draws out her name, turning it from plain to beautiful. Suddenly she's breaking all her rules, all her personal honor to touch a man who effortlessly ignites a fire that's determined to change the very essence of who she is.
Wallingford has never thought of a woman as being more than a vessel for his own release but Jane's clean scent and soothing voice has dark poetry spilling from his sinful lips and a rushing heat to sweep through his previously empty soul. But Wallingford's fantasies paint a sensually beautiful woman and when his bruised face heals, he discovers that his angel is nothing but a dowdy lady's maid and that's after he tears through her heart and pride with his slicing tongue. However, as his disappointment fades, Wallingford can't stop thinking about Jane and his need to claim her has him disregarding the inevitable - additional - pain that he's surely to cause her for there are three things that Wallingford excels above all others: Sex, pain and paint.
Jane can't reconcile the Matthew that made her heart and body sing with the disreputable rake that all of England knows as Lord Wallingford. He's a man renowned for using women right and left with no care of the pain that he leaves behind his awesome wake and Jane is beyond ashamed to find herself as being one of many. Mostly she's just hurt. For the first time in her life she opened her heart to a possibility that she thought could never happen. She trusted him in short order and was about to give him everything that she held dear only to have him squash her beneath his boot heel as he looked straight through her and quickly found her lacking.
Fortunately, fate isn't about to let these two wounded creatures slink off to their respective caves. As situations force them together, Wallingford recognizes a distinct similarity that he and Jane share - the necessity to guard their true selves from others. Offering to give Jane anything she asks in exchange for her body as well as the woman she hides behind her severe demeanor, Wallingford stutters beneath the price she names. He must be Matthew in her presence. He must shed the cutting Wallingford and reveal the sweet soul that lays cowering within the shadows. Knowing that what Jane will ultimately find can only hurt her and probably have her turning away in disgust, Wallingford - Matthew - needs her like he's never needed anyone. While that in and of itself terrifies him, the suffering he will surely experience if he doesn't give Jane what she demands would be so much worse. Now, standing completely stripped of their shields, Matthew and Jane come together with a blistering passion that has love unfurling swiftly and soundly, cocooning them each in what ultimately proves to be a temporary bliss. But forever may be attainable if Matthew and Jane persevere over a tragic obstacle that could very easily leave their souls torn to shreds.
SINFUL is as unconventional as it is controversial. Its a gut-wrenching, emotional journey of two very wounded people that while bred from extremely opposing sides of the tracks, find a soul-binding similarity within each other. Dark and melancholy, Matthew and Jane don't experience too much joy in the time that we travel with them, but rather their love springs forth like the rising of a phoenix from the crumbled ashes of their former selves.
There are many aspects of Ms. Featherstone's writing that I love but there is one that I truly admire above all others and that is her daring to fearlessly take her characters to lows of such personal and even relevant magnitudes that they seamlessly tackle current issues of even modern day society. Both SINFUL and its predecessor, ADDICTED, address areas of human nature that many of us have experienced either personally or by association. It takes bravery to bring these issues to life with her characters and I love the emotion she evokes in doing so.
However strong and dark the issues are that Matthew and Jane experience, it will be the end that shocks most readers, an end that may have negative effects because it doesn't necessarily coincide with a traditional Happily Ever After. Rather its realistic and in truth, it was the final essential barrier for Jane to conquer within herself. My thought is that if things hadn't ended the way they did, something would have been lacking and it would have brought a general disappointment along with it. Again, I'm in awe of Ms. Featherstone's bravery and the awesome love and dedication that she has for her characters. She did them justice and in doing so, did my reader heart justice.
For readers that relish in emotionally intense, highly erotic historicals, look no further than SINFUL.
Book Addict: 4/5
Sapphire Romance Realm: 4/5
One Book Away From Heaven