Friday, October 03, 2008

The Sinner; Madeline Hunter

I’ve only read two other Madeline Hunter novels, both of those medievals- quite a while ago at that. They were both the kind of books that made me sigh at the end and feel ‘all’s well with the world’ so to speak. Ms. Hunter has a reputation of depth and characterization, the two things I most look for in romances. I found both of those things in this novel. The Sinner is a British set historical, exact time setting I couldn’t determine, but seems to be Regency or reasonably close to it. It is part of a five book group, all of which have two word titles The _______.

Dante Duclairc is the epitome of the phrase wine women and song. Only, he’s a little off key just now due to being out of breath running from his creditors. To his credit, Dante prefers to either: run to France or to go to debtor’s prison rather than ask his older brother for another advance- a big one. Fleur Monley is running from her male relatives. They are threatening her with a legally imposed guardianship due to mental instability. You see, Fleur wants to spend her inheritances as she wishes and the potential guardian, naturally, disagrees. Dante and Fleur aren’t strangers, a few years ago she and Dante’s older brother nearly became betrothed. After Dante gets thrown into the clink, he was caught while helping Fleur, she proposes a marriage of convenience. No sex, and he has to live only off of an allowance she’ll have written into the legal papers. Naturally Dante agrees. I mean, what red blooded man wouldn’t? Jail or freedom and money.

The Sinner is unique because Ms. Hunter reveals both strands of the story: one, the legal status of women at that time and the lengths they and their loved ones had to go to secure their individual and joint rights and wishes, and two: showing the evolving relationship between two people coming into a marriage without truly knowing each other. There are the typical twists and turns and revelations as would be common in anyone facing such a situation regardless of era. As P.G. Wodehouse wrote in one of his masterpieces, “there are wheels within wheels within wheels.” What I appreciated the most, though, is the dialogue between Fleur and Dante. They talked to each other as best they could. Ms. Hunter did not use the ‘big misunderstanding’ short cut that others might have.

In one way I regret missing out on so many of Ms. Hunter’s works, then again, it means that I’ve plenty of backlist to hunt for. Either way, I’ve started looking for Ms. Hunter’s other books at the UBS. I relished every word in The Sinner and it will live on my keeper shelf. Her newest book is Secrets of Surrender which is the thrid book in the Rothwell series (click link at the end of the first paragraph for more information).

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