Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Spptlight Review: To Sin With A Scoundrel by Cara Elliott
Circle of Sin, Book 1 of 3
Grand Central Forever
Unwilling to give up the fortune their son and cousin gained by marrying, the Sheffield family continues to spread scurrilous rumors about his widow, Ciara, Lady Sheffield. Having failed to see her convicted of poisoning her husband, they now hope to get possession of her son—and his inheritance—by having her declared an unfit mother. Ciara doesn't mix much with Society, but is fortunate in having four very good friends with mutual interests in scientific subjects. The ladies of the circle are of various ages and personalities, all delightful. They call themselves the Circle of Scientific Sibyls. Concerned over Ciara's situation, they conclude she needs to find a man of enough prominence to rehabilitate her reputation.
Lucas Bingham, the Earl of Hadley, lives a life of self-indulgence; he's probably the most notorious rakehell in Town. Hadley really cares for only one person, his uncle and former guardian, Sir Henry Phelps, a reclusive invalid and scholar. When Sir Henry needs help in translating an ancient manuscript that could be vital to England's war effort, he asks Hadley to contact Lady Sheffield for him. Ciara is well aware of Hadley's hedonism and avoids him as long as she can.
Hadley gets a big surprise when he finally confronts Ciara; she's nothing like the bluestocking "Lady Murder" of the gossip columns he had envisioned. For reasons of their own, Hadley and Ciara agree to a temporary engagement.
Ciara is a totally sympathetic character from the start. Not so Hadley, though even before meeting Ciara, he'd begun to see his life as meaningless—an attitude he struggles to fight off.
TO SIN WITH A SCOUNDREL is a well-constructed novel of relationships and suspense. Great character development, plentiful dialogue often touched with humor, spicy sexual tension, and exciting plotlines combine to make it a winner. I was much impressed with the liveliness and wit in this debut effort, but shouldn't have been surprised. Cara Elliott is the pen name chosen by veteran author Andrea Pickens for her new, sexier series of books. I highly recommend TO SIN WITH A SCOUNDREL and eagerly look forward to its sequels.
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