The moment that Randall Clayton, the 7th Duke of Beldon, hears American Cait Harmon laughing, he knows that he wants her. This doesn’t surprise him. What does is the force of his emotions. The fact that she’s American is appealing to Rand because in his experience “American women didn’t seem to abide by the same moral dictates as English women…”. Basically, the Duke thinks Cait is going to be easy. Not a very appealing thought, but our hero is a rake and will learn the truth soon enough. Cait is also attracted to Rand. He’s handsome, powerful, rich – what’s not to like? Still, she is far more hesitant to act on her feelings.
Cait is in London with her father who is searching for the infamous Cleopatra’s necklace, a necklace supposedly given to Cleopatra by Marc Antony. He has come to London in order to raise funds to go back to the island of Santo Amaro and dig for the necklace. Cait has given up a life of her own in order to help her father and help make him a success. She feels responsible for her mother’s death and the guilt keeps her at her father’s side. She has to no wish to marry and enjoys being independent. For Rand, this is perfect. He does not want any emotional entanglements. He too is on a mission – his is to discover the truth behind the death of his cousin. Fortuitously, for Rand anyway, the man he suspects is helping Cait’s father raise money for his dig. He can do some sleuthing on this guy (Baron Talmadge) and seduce Cait at the same time.
But something funny happens on the way; he starts to fall in love with Cait. This completely throws Rand for a loop. As a child, Rand was very much into painting, reading and generally more genteel habits. His father thought these pursuits were unsuitable. Consequently, Rand had to hide the things he truly loved. Because of this, one could say Rand is not always in touch with his more sensitive side. The reader is allowed to glimpse his sensitivity in bits and pieces and it does a lot to humanize him.
The book does follow along a predictable path as Cait and Rand marry, as they are torn apart and as the villain is exposed once and for all. Though the novel’s predictability is not really a problem, there are some things that pull the reader out of the story. Rand’s behavior when he and Cait were having problems was unpleasant – he went off to London and took up with his mistress. Although his heart wasn’t in it, he lost a big chunk of my own. There are some smaller problems as well. Antony is referred to as Anthony and while his name is not mentioned a lot, it’s mentioned enough to know that it’s not merely a typo. Finally, some of the dialogue was anachronistic. Rand telling Cait as he’s trying to seduce her, “I’ve got what you need, Cait…” completely pulled me out of the story. I could not picture a Georgian/Regency-era duke uttering such a contemporary phrase.
What saved this book for me? Oddly enough it was Cait and Rand. The two were just wounded enough to be stubborn but also be able to help each other. The glimpses we get of a more sensitive Rand do show us he is capable of better and that much of his behavior is learned habit. No, it doesn’t excuse his behavior, but his actions were believable for the times, and I do believe Rand makes up for it later. Caitlin, for her part, goes through a lot and is never simpering or stupid. She is strong, smart, independent and loyal. She is also a lonely woman who resigned herself to never marrying so she is quite at sea about falling in love.
Perfect Sin is not a perfect book, but the things that pulled me out the story, though major for me, may not be major for someone else. There are better historical romances out there but if you like Kat Martin generally, chances are you’ll find some good in this book.