Friday, March 17, 2006

Bad title, Good Book

Recently, I read The Charmer and The Romantic by Madeline Hunter. There were some things I liked about both books, and other things that left me cold. But when I saw that Lady of Sin would be about Nathaniel Knightridge and Charlotte, the youngest sister of the Duclairc family, I was psyched because I enjoyed their appearances in The Romantic quite a bit. And I enjoyed Lady of Sin quite a lot, though I don't like the title. It's too...hooker-esque, and kinda dumb, though I know it's because this book follows Lord of Sin, which I skipped because I was sick of rakes.

I think that Hunter's strength is in creating characters with a strong self of self, who, while they might go against the grain, still fit into the time and place. In particular, her heroines contain a maturity and self-awareness that distinguish them from a lot of Regency/Early Victorian fare. Like Sophia and Pen in the other titles, Charlotte (Baroness Mardenford/Lady M.) engages in an affair, knowing that there may be disastrous consequences, simply because the desire to is strong enough. There's little fluttering or blaming the hero, and if self-recrimination takes place afterward, it's for good reason. But unlike Sophia and Pen, Charlotte is not annoying. She is unapologetically clever and opinionated, without being grating, and she doesn't go haring off, making stupid decisions, just because she can. I think it's because she is portrayed as a very empathetic person. She is a good match and foil for lawyer Nathaniel, the fifth son of an Earl, who is himself a very strong, opinionated, arrogant, yet empathetic guy. And I like stories where sparring partners realize that their dislike is masking other emotions entirely. One imagines that such relationships probably don't end so well in real life, but it makes for good reading.

As LOS opens, Charlotte goes to see Nathaniel on the day a man he unsuccessfully defended is to be executed. They've alway disliked each other, but they end up smooching, and Charlotte is painfully aware that this is not their first intimacy. At an orgy (Naughty!) held by the notorious Earl of Lyndale (hero of Lord of Sin), the masked Charlotte and Nathaniel hit it off and got it on. Nathaniel doesn't recognize her and Charlotte would like to keep it that way. However, as a series of events keeps throwing them into proximity, they realize that that not only is desire between them still there, but also is quite strong, and seems to involve the mind and heart as well as the body. I liked that they resolved the issue of their one night stand quickly, and it didn't turn into some stupid big misunderstanding. They are brought together by a mystery surrounding Charlotte's late husband and her brother in law, and while I didn't find the plot particularly suspenseful or compelling, I didn't care. A good romance is a character driven story of two individuals coming together, and if I'm drawn to the hero/heroine's love story, the plot is incidental to that. I liked Nathaniel and Charlotte and I really enjoyed seeing their vigorous dislike turn to love. The love scenes were good and there were lots of them (although perhaps the word "vulva" was overused). If you like strong, mature characters with lots of passion, this is a good bet. I'll be reading Hunter's future books, and I want to try her Medievals. They are very well-reviewed and I've got to get over my Medieval dislike (but that's another post).

That is all. Everyone's asleep and I'm off to drink my McSorley's. Erin Go Bragh!