Lovers of tortured characters will have a field day with Captive of Sin. It’s a sweeping, larger than life historical romance filled with passion, angst and suffering. I thought the beginning was about as good as an historical romance can get, and I was about to proclaim it a DIK before a rushed ending knocked it down a notch. But only a notch.
Sir Gideon Trevithick is returning from India to Cornwall and the family estate, Penrhyn. He is the man of the hour, the Hero of Rangapindi, but all the accolades give him no joy and all he wants to do is get back home and stay there. While at an inn, Gideon discovers a young woman hiding in the stable. She is badly bruised, her arm is so sore she can’t use it and she is all alone. He can’t abide seeing anyone in harm’s way and offers help, but the young woman is terrified and tries to run.
She is Lady Charis Weston, the heiress to a huge fortune. Her stepbrothers, who are her guardians, want her money and have beaten and threatened her in an attempt to force her to marry an odious man who is in collusion with them. They thought they had locked her up, but Charis escaped and ran with only the clothes on her back. Having no place to go and no resources at all, she reluctantly accepts Gideon’s help.
Gradually, Charis warms to Gideon, although she does not trust him enough to give him her real name. They begin to bond on the trip to Cornwall, and as they progress, she begins to fall in love with him. Gideon is a wonderfully handsome man who shows himself to be kind, gentle and chivalrous. However, there is an odd event, when he has what looks like a total breakdown – almost a fit of insanity. But that passes quickly.
At Penrhyn, Charis tells Gideon something of her circumstances (she is not yet of age which is why her stepbrothers want to force her into marriage) and he agrees to shelter her until she reaches her majority which is only a few weeks away. But when her stepbrothers come by looking for her (she and Gideon were seen in Portsmouth) the only way to keep Charis safe, is for Gideon to marry her and he plans to do just that. But he has issues – does he ever have issues!!
In India, Gideon and two companions were taken captive and horribly tortured. He was the only survivor of the three and, while his physical wounds have healed, he suffers terribly from what we recognize as PTSD. He breaks into panic attacks at the idea of being touched.
Gideon and Charis begin their marriage both burning with desire for each other, and this is where I lost my suspension of disbelief. Charis seems to think that if Gideon will just try hard enough, he can overcome his problems, and he does overcome them fairly quickly – too quickly for my taste. If only there had been more focus on Charis and Gideon’s emotional coming together after they married, I think I would have been able to set my problems aside, but the author throws in an outside threat which takes the story away from the emotional side, just when the focus should be there.
I still enjoyed Captive of Sin, despite my problem with Gideon’s too quick cure. I liked the characters very much, and I loved the build of desire and tension between them. Anna Campbell has a lush style that isn’t flowery and I’d really love to see her tackle a long, sweeping story that would give her scope to stretch her wings. While not perfect, this is still one of the best historical romances I’ve read this year.