August 2012, European Historical Romance (1820s England)
Berkley, $7.99, 320 pages, Amazon ASIN 0425251039 Part of a series
Wedded in Sin features one of the more unusual heroes I've seen. Our heroine calls him a "mad toff," and the back cover calls him a "strange but brilliant gent." Like much of the book, some of this works very, very well; other parts are a bit shaky.
Samuel Morrison, our "mad toff," is a bored and brilliant second son of a baron who is just barely scraping by and amusing himself as a court jester-like sideshow entertainer, solving riddles and mysteries to amuse the ton. While walking one day, he witnesses Penny Shoemaker getting thrown out of her home, and decides to occupy himself by solving this mystery.
The mystery is thus: Penny's parents were murdered, and now to add insult to injury, a fake bill of sale grants someone else ownership of her home and her father's shoe-making shop. Forced out of her home and caring for the young brother that everyone assumes is her son, Penny takes any help she can get, even if it's from a slightly crazy hanger-on of society. Though he appears silly and dumbs himself down, Samuel is really a highly logical, supremely rational, and extremely intelligent man. As he and Penny get to know each other while investigating the circumstances of her parents' deaths, they begin to realize that they might each be what the other needs.
Samuel's mind is very interesting to visit. He reminded me of Dr. Temperance Brennan from the TV show Bones with his hyper-rationality and broad intelligence. He's not an emotional person, and the only other individual he has connected with is his nephew, a 7-year-old remarkably like him. Penny's no-nonsense sassiness is a perfect match for him. Penny, like Samuel, is misunderstood. People assume she's a fallen woman and that her brother Tommy is her son. She longs to design shoes, but that is a man's profession, and thus she is forced to do so in secret. She's feisty, and not afraid to say what she thinks. She has an ability to see beyond Samuel's surface, and he has the ability to see past her facade.
However, their chemistry was slow to build. I didnít feel it as quickly as the author wanted the reader to; it wasnít until long after Samuel started thinking about seducing her that I started to feel the attraction. In addition, it is easy to forget that this book takes place over the course of several days, and I couldnít help but question the speed at which the two fell in love with each other.
This book revisits some previous characters of Jade Leeís, all surrounding A Ladyís Favor, a womenís dress shop in this A Bridal Favors series. One of my favorite things about this book, though, is not the high society connections some of the other characters have: itís the opposite. Samuel is a younger son of a minor noble, and Penny the daughter of a tradesman. She is content to work, and as Samuel discovers more of his role in his life, he settles into a comfortable place alongside her, not necessarily as an entertainer for the ton. Itís nice to take a break from the balls and operas and strolls along the Serpentine, and visit some of the more middle-class Britons.
This book takes a bit of a slow start, but as it picks up, it becomes a compelling and unique book. By the end of the novel, I felt the pull of attraction between Samuel and Penny, and I loved their relationship together; it just took a few pages to get there.
-- Jane Granville
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