Friday, July 24, 2009

Book Review Friday - "Wicked As Sin"

I am a big fan of Jillian Hunter. Need I say more? Enjoy today's review.

Book Review for “Wicked as Sin”
Written by: Jillian Hunter
Ballantine Books
ISBN: 978-0-345-503930
327 pages
4.5 Stars

Hunter spins a tale of passion which has lasted seven long years with “Wicked as Sin.” As a young boy, Gabriel Boscastle was put in the local pillory to be disgraced. The only person who showed him an ounce of compassion was the graceful Lady Aletha Claridge. Her compassion remained with Gabriel after he left Helbourne and stayed buried in his heart for seven long years. When he finally returns to the place of his upbringing, he’s a celebrated cavalry officer and a rake. Aletha is still graceful and compassionate, awakening the love that Gabriel has harbored in his heart for her after seven long, hard years.

The novel opens with Gabriel’s return to Helbourne. He’s crossing a condemned bridge. Aletha spies him from her estate and goes to help. Gabriel makes it across, but seeing Aletha again has ignited his long dormant passion he had for her. To his surprise, Aletha is still single. Her fiancé was killed in the war. Unknown to Gabriel, her fiancé, Jeremy Hazlett, had raped her before he left. Aletha harbors no fondness for Jeremy’s memory. Jeremy’s brother, Guy, makes a proposal to Aletha to be her protector, but Gabriel shows up and kicks the married man of four out of the house. Aletha is grateful. Gabriel and Aletha share a kiss that reawakens the passion between them.

Gabriel initially intends to sell Helbourne Hall, but decides to hold onto it for a little longer. Over the course of five weeks, Aletha invites Gabriel over for Friday night dinner parties and the parties fan the flames of their desires. Finally, Gabriel returns after leaving late one night and the couple make love.

Gabriel proposes to Aletha. She accepts. He takes her to London to announce his engagement to the London Boscastles, but on the night of the engagement party, he learns that Aletha has met the acquaintance of Audrey Watson, a woman who runs a bordello. Gabriel thinks Aletha is a courtesan. He leaves without announcing his engagement, making Aletha look bad. Aletha is heartbroken.

While Gabriel is gone, he learns the truth about Aletha from Guy Hazlett – that his brother raped Aletha. Gabriel feels guilty for treating Aletha so poorly. He goes to the Claridge townhouse and the couple have a passionate argument before making up. The wedding is back on and the couple marry, but not before Gabriel has an encounter with his long, lost brother Sebastien.

This is the seventh of the Boscastle series and just as enjoyable as the others. The novel is fast paced. The plot is tight and consistent. It was nice to see how the other Boscastle women (Jane, Julia, Chloe, Emma) were doing, but I missed the presence of Eloise and Jocelyn in this book. I enjoyed Aletha’s character. She was very warm and compassionate – very earthy. I also liked how freely Gabriel and Aletha admitted and embraced their love.

Hunter’s love scenes are graphic, yet tasteful. The dialogue is sharp and witty between Aletha and Gabriel. The introduction of Sebastien seemed a little forced, and I think I’d like to see a novel taking a second look a few of the previous Boscastles romances instead of moving onto to a new romance. Overall, “Wicked as Sin,” is a sinful delight to read.

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