Born In Sin
Kinley MacGregor’s latest offering, Born In Sin, is a redemption story, and quite a good one, as it happens. If there were a little more to it, it could have made the jump to DIK without much effort, but as it stands, it’s still a truly enjoyable read.
Lord Sin, with his improbable (but well-explained) name and well-earned reputation for murder and mayhem is, at first glance, more than daunting. He’s been an assassin for the Saracens who bought him as a child, and now serves King Henry II in the same capacity. Rejected by both parents, and referred to by the Pope himself as Satan’s Most Favorite Spawn, he’s rumored to be a demon or worse. He’s sent men to their deaths unquestioningly, at the order of his king, but he cannot abide by Henry’s latest edict.
He’s been commanded to wed a Scottish clanswoman named Caledonia MacNeely, now the king’s hostage, return to the land that was once his home to catch a dangerous Scottish raider, and to make peace. But getting married and returning to Scotland are at the top of Sin’s Never To Do list. Human caring is beyond his experience, and the land that rejected him could never again be his home.
Callie MacNeely is trying to escape Henry’s court with her young brother Jamie when her perfect plan is foiled by a tall, dark and handsome knight who just happens to look like the devil incarnate – and the knights who have waylaid her seem to believe him to be just that. But Callie sees how Sin treats Jamie, and knows that a demon would never care for a child like he does. She may be afraid of her reaction to him, but she can’t bring herself to fear her husband-to-be. She can, however, fear what will surely befall the Sassenach Lord when he accompanies her home to her rebellious clansmen.
The hero and heroine are sympathetic characters, particularly Sin, for whom the book is named. Born In Sin refers to both his very humble beginnings, and the life from which he needs to be reborn. He’s a well-realized hero, whose regrets, for a refreshing change are based on reality rather than fantasy, and his lack of hope is more than believable. He’s tortured, but not torturous to read. The only thing I could ask for is to see a little more of the life he regrets.
Callie is a likable character, although perhaps not as well-realized as Sin, because most of the emphasis is on him. She is determined to the point of single-mindedness, and while I wanted her to succeed, I felt like she might more believably have gotten a bit discouraged from time to time. I liked her, however, and believed that she could teach Sin to love. I wouldn’t have minded seeing a bit more of her, although not at the cost of seeing less of Sin, who is admittedly a more interesting and complex character.
The plot flows well, but I do have a few minor complaints, one of which is convenience. Callie is conveniently able to repeatedly escape her captivity in Henry’s court, and only Sin ever has the wit or means to detect and stop her. You’d think a royal hostage would be a bit more closely guarded. There are a few more instances of overly convenient plotting later in the book as well, which I won’t go into for spoiler reasons. Also, Sin is particularly good at something he’s never done before – so much so that it makes my suspension of disbelief a bit shaky. I’m afraid I couldn’t bring myself to accept “beginner’s luck” in this instance (which also resides in spoiler territory, I’m afraid, so I won’t go into more detail). These things certainly didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the book, however, and as such are only worth a passing mention.
Aside from the hero, I have to say, the things I liked best about this book were the clichés, which sounds a bit odd, but let me explain. MacGregor has a way of turning clichés on their ears, and making them funny in the process, the funniest of which pertains to the wedding night, and the virginal blood cliché. Unfortunately, it would be a spoiler to tell you more, but let’s just say I’d recommend the book on the strength of that alone. However, it should be noted that humor is very subjective, and you might read it and think I’m crazy. Luckily, that’s not the only good thing about this book.
Basically, there were many good things about Born In Sin, and few bad ones. The conflicts were real and believable, and so were the relationships, and there was plenty of humor as well. My biggest complaint was wanting more, and that’s generally a compliment, as it is here. I can recommend this book unreservedly, and say honestly that while this is my first book by Ms. MacGregor, it most definitely won’t be my last.