Never Conspire With a Sinful Baron
The fourth title in Renee Ann Miller’s Infamous Lords series, Never Conspire with a Sinful Baron, begins with a premise that will be familiar to anyone that has read a fair number of historical romances. Lord Eliot Haverford, Baron Ralston, is in desperate need of an heiress and just happens to know one – Lady Nina Trent. Lady Nina is a woman determined to marry someone boring after previously falling for a scoundrel. Eliot convinces Nina he can help her make another man jealous by flirting with her and, in the meantime, he plans to woo her himself. This trope is nothing new but can still be delightful depending on the execution. Sadly, the execution here, while not terrible, wasn’t great either.
Eliot has inherited a barony from his spendthrift uncle and desperately needs money in order to repair his multiple neglected homes. As is almost always the case in historical romances, the easiest way for him to get said funds is to marry an heiress. Luckily, he knows several, and even likes one of them enough to see himself giving up his bachelor life for her.
Eliot convinces Nina that the best way for her to attract the man she thinks she wants is to let him pretend to woo her. After some thought, Nina agrees to his scheme and is soon pleased to see results. It’s not long before she begins to have feelings for Eliot, however, but she ignores them because Eliot is just like the scoundrel that broke her heart. She continues to ignore those feelings for much of the book for that reason AND because her obnoxious grandmother is demanding Nina marry for respectability. Literally everyone else in Nina’s family tells her they want her to marry for love, but she chooses to ignore them and only listen to her grandmother.
While attending a house party, someone shoots at Eliot and his rival for Nina’s affections, but this is written off by them as an accident. An urn later falling and nearly hitting Eliot is also written off as an accident. Only when he is attacked outside of his own home does Eliot realize these are not accidents at all but that someone is trying to kill him. I was completely surprised by the identity of the attacker, but only because the scene setting that up was written about at the beginning of the book and then seemingly forgotten. In fact, several little storylines come up throughout the novel and are then quickly settled, or just disappear so that I had to wonder if there was really a need for them at all.
I was intrigued at the very beginning of the story, despite having read this trope multiple times, but ultimately it just didn’t work here. A lot of that was due to the fact that I just couldn’t figure out what drew Eliot and Nina together. Maybe I missed something, but they don’t seem to spend that much time together before realizing they have feelings for each other.
There was just so much going on in Never Conspire with a Sinful Baron that it was hard to enjoy the better parts of the story. One of those good things is Eliot himself. I simply cannot resist a man who finds himself slowly loving a dog he inherited despite not wanting to do so at first. I also really liked that even though Eliot starts out needing and looking for an heiress, he chooses to try to find a different way to solve his financial problems, and I enjoyed the fact that he falls first, even if I was surprised by how quickly it happens. Nina, however, drove me crazy with her refusal to listen to anyone other than her grandmother regarding whom she should marry. It felt as though she was determined to marry someone she didn’t love simply to make up for the scandal she’d caused in the previous book. (Which I haven’t read, although I did wonder if maybe I’d missed something about Nina’s backstory by not having done so.) Aside from that, I can’t really tell you anything about Nina other than that she likes to draw. She’s poorly characterised and doesn’t have much of a personality.
As far as the romance goes, it moves along at a decent pace, although the characters admit their love for each other rather quickly. The sex scenes are pretty average, and a few lines were so cheesy they actually made me laugh and pulled me right out of the scene.
In the end, the sweet hero and his dog weren’t enough to save Never Conspire with a Sinful Baron from too many subplots, an annoying heroine, and a flat romance.
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