A Talent for Sin
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I always love it when I get to read a good debut novel. Though not perfect, A Talent for Sin is most definitely a strong and interesting book. It will stand out among the many Regency historicals out there because it features an intense romance and an unusual couple. Violet and Peter are both flawed people, but somehow they fit together beautifully.
At 31, Lady Violet Carrington has been married three times and widowed three times – each time with a much older husband. The reader learns more about each of Violet’s marriages and how they marked her throughout the book, but suffice it to say that Violet is not anxious to run down the aisle to Husband #4. The arrangement that she has with her much younger lover, Lord Peter St. Johns, suits her just fine. If only Peter wouldn’t be difficult and do things like asking her to marry him.
Though the reader does get wider glimpses in Violet and Peter’s world, meeting family, friends and some who do not exactly wish them well, the story’s main focus is on Violet and Peter. Even when they are not together, they think of each other and their situation often. In this story, such a narrow focus works. Peter wants to marry Violet and cannot seem to find a way to convince her that he wants much more than just a sexual relationship. Violet, on the other hand, thinks that Peter needs a young, innocent bride who would be more worthy of him than she is.
And so it goes. The mutual dance/battle of wills between Violet and Peter sometimes seems uncertain, but I found many of the interactions between Violet and Peter entertaining. Usually, I get turned off by protracted power struggles, but in this one, no one ever has the upper hand so absolutely as to crush the other. While I like Violet and admire her resiliency, she does have a tendency to be too much sometimes. Too much wallowing in the “I’m not worthy”s (oh, come to your senses and admit you love him already!) and when faced with the issue of her friend’s pregnancy, the childless Violet is affected in understandable ways, but it does get a little overwhelmingly dramatic.
Even though the drama on Violet’s part sometimes overwhelmed things, it did give Peter a chance to show one of his best traits. I often admire quiet strength in heroines, but I don’t often have opportunity to recognize it in a hero. Peter is one I would truly call a rock. At some of Violet’s most difficult moments, he is able to reach her and help her with what she needs. Their relationship has a lot of sexual chemistry and heat to it, but there is much tenderness, too. Some of this is shown as they work through their conflicts and insecurities. They don’t always handle things rationally, but even when they do ridiculous things, the author makes sure that the characters’ actions have consequences and those consequences are dealt with instead of glossed over. I found that refreshing.
In an ideal world, I could have done with a little less bickering and power play between the lead couple, and Violet could have put on her big girl panties and dealt with life a little bit sooner. Still, I enjoyed reading A Talent for Sin. It’s a steamy story – but also a beautiful one showing the redeeming power of love. I also liked it for its somewhat unusual theme. Romanceland has historically required that the experiences older lover get shunted aside in favor of some younger, quivering virgin heroine. So I rather liked this May-December pairing, and I hope to see more from this author.