To Seduce a Sinner, by Elizabeth Hoyt

To Seduce a Sinner (Legend of the Four Soldiers)
By: Elizabeth Hoyt
Published date: October 10, 2008

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
How hot is it: Very spicy for a historical.
Hero: Jasper, Lord Vale
Heroine: Melisande Fleming

I don’t know why I haven’t read more Elizabeth Hoyt. Maybe it’s because I typed her name as “Holt” twice before realizing that it was, in fact, “Hoyt.” Whatever the reason, it was a mistake, because she’s fabulous. I don’t know if it’s the sub-zero temperatures, but I’m in a Historical Romance reading frenzy, and I’ve been hitting winners all around. I feel like winners should have been homers in that last sentence, but it seems better to get a baseball metaphor incorrect.

Anyway, the basic story is that Jasper is left at the altar (doubtful since he’s an uber-charmer, but I’ll buy it) and Melisande, having been in love with Jasper from afar for quite some years, offers to marry him herself because she’s a selfless dame! For whatever reason, he accepts, there’s some general going on about how he has to sire some heirs and whatnot, but none of it seems relevant. They marry, and that was also kind of nice because there was no formal courtship, they just kind of had to function together and got to know each other that way. Then enter this mystery Jasper is trying to solve. He believes there was a traitor in his regiment in the French and Indian War (Seven Years’ War to them, thank you) that led to the death of his best friend. So he’s out trying to figure things out, and when he comes close and Melisande nearly dies because of it, and then that’s it for the mystery. And it goes without saying that by the time she’s nearly thrown off the roof of a house, he realizes that he loves her. Of course, of course.

Hoyt is dark. It’s difficult to describe accurately, but her books (and I’ve only read two) aren’t all sunshine and roses and balls and witty banter. They exist somewhere outside of that giddy sphere where it’s hazy and maybe a little gritty, and satisfies that niggling voice we all have that says it wants to explore murkier waters just to be surprised. Melisande and Jasper are great examples of this. They’re damaged, they’re a little opaque. While Melisande is taciturn around crowds, they provide Jasper with the distraction he needs to forget his harrowing war experiences, and those differences make their pairing interesting. They both reveal themselves to each other in tiny increments, and so much is withheld that it’s easy to get excited about the little tidbits that are dropped every now and then. And even with all the secrets, the characters are still full and interesting and believable.

If I had one complaint, which I don’t, it would be that this book is part of a series and while I was vaguely aware of this while reading, I always assumed that the mystery Jasper was hoping to solve in this book would be solved. It’s not, and it was irritating, in the best way possible, of course. What I’m really saying is that if you don’t want to get sucked into the four-book series, don’t bother, because I’m definitely hooked.

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