Desert Isle Keeper
To Seduce a Sinner
The second novel in Elizabeth Hoyt’s Legend of the Four Soldiers series is even better than the first. To Seduce a Sinner is funny and heartbreaking, sexy and poignant.
A hung-over Jasper Renshaw, Viscount Vale, has just been left at the altar by his fiancée when he is offered a replacement – by the prospective bride herself. She looks vaguely familiar, but he cannot remember her name. Melisande Fleming is a friend to a different ex-fiancée of Jasper’s (Emeline, heroine of To Taste Temptation) and has loved him from afar, ever since she saw him comfort a crying man at a ball, a fellow veteran from the French and Indian Wars in the colonies. Now she sees her chance to have Jasper and she takes it. Jasper needs to get on with the begetting an heir thing and, as he obviously isn’t very good at choosing his own bride, accepts Melisande’s offer. Besides, as he tells his valet, “…when she stood there, looking at me as if I’d spat in front of her … Well, I was rather charmed, I think. Unless it was the lingering after-effects of the whiskey from last night.”
Jasper is witty, always joking, always the life of any party, with a reputation as a skilled lover and, after a less than satisfying wedding night, Jasper and Melisande’s lovemaking is blistering and very satisfying. However, Jasper immediately leaves his wife and returns to sleep on a thin pallet in his small dressing room, his back against the wall, his knapsack of food, water and weapon nearby, a single candle lit against the darkness. Merry Jasper has deep psychological scars from the war.
His regiment was betrayed to the French and the remnants of his company captured and tortured by the Indians. He is dogged in searching for the traitor and keeping his weaknesses from his wife, who is becoming more fascinating by the day – and night. Melisande has her secrets as well and is determined to keep a part of herself aloof from Jasper. She’d been in love and was engaged years before and doesn’t ever want to suffer from heartbreak as she did before. However, while each wishes to keep their own secrets, they nibble away at the other’s with sweet and moving results.
Jasper and Melisande are full, vibrant characters with layers just begging to be mined – by each other and the reader. Jasper’s bon vivant demeanor hides his traumatized soul and when he finally bares it to Melisande’s view, it is wrenching and riveting reading. Likewise, Jasper’s reaction to Melisande’s secrets is equally moving.
I enjoyed the secondary characters of Melisande’s lady’s maid and Jasper’s valet, but my only real complaint is that I felt the use of other secondary characters to be a bit clunky and obviously a set up for the next book. However, I’m looking forward to that book very much, so it didn’t bother too much.
I loved the unusual setting, the intriguing and complex characters, the emotional struggles and connections, the lush love scenes, the mystery, the snippets of “Laughing Jack’s” fairy tale which prefaces each chapter – all in all, a remarkable book.