Duchess of Sin
There’s a lot to like in Duchess of Sin: The setting. The historical context. And the hero’s sketchy cousin, who will be featured in the next book. That’s all good. The rest isn’t bad, but it’s nothing to write home about, and, unfortunately, that includes the main couple.
Anna Blacknall is, apparently, the wild and mischievous middle Blacknall sister. On one of her escapades Anna comes across Conlan McTeer, the rebel Irish duke with whom she apparently shares a past. As they continually cross each others’ paths, Anna becomes entangled in Conlan’s political manoeuvres to free Ireland, falls in love with him, and gets caught up in someone’s apparent scheme to murder him.
That’s a lot of “apparent” information, and for someone who hasn’t read the previous book, it meant an uneven read. I don’t buy Anna’s supposed wild character as written here, but maybe it would clearer if I had read the first book. The circumstances surrounding her and Conlan’s connection could be described more clearly – but again, they wouldn’t need to be so clear if I’d read the first book. And so on and so forth. All these mysteries threw the book slightly out of kilter, as if I saw a movie through a gauze curtain. It doesn’t help that I found Conlan a tad washed out, and Anna a tad uninteresting.
However, in the spirit of positivity, I will say that I’m being very nitpicky, and that the rest of the book edges out the disadvantages towards a qualified recommendation. The setting and details are a revelation, and Ms. McKee (aka Amanda McCabe) continues her predilection for non-Regency settings, this time heading to 1799 Ireland before the country was finally swallowed up by the English. Ms. McKee carries us from Irish estates to the docksides to high society, and does so with good old storytelling.
If the author had applied the same specificity to her main characters as to her setting, I would be a lot more enthusiastic. But I was never confused, only mystified, and sufficiently engaged. And the setting is definitely a winner. I can go with that.