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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

5/5 Review: All Night With a Rogue by Alexandra Hawkins

Alexius "Sin" Sinclair is a man of vice and debauchery. His trademark: A pearl necklace that decorates the necks of many prestigious ladies of the ton. He's also bored, jaded beyond repair with the only solace being his club and its members, The Lords of Vice. Together, these titled "gentlemen" brood and drink whilst bawdy prostitutes parade and hawk their wares. But the mundane nuances of Sin's life is soon shaken by the beautiful Juliana Ivers when in the midst of a naughty tryst with the married Lady Lettlecott, Sin glimpses the beguiling girl high in a hazel tree watching with fearful curiosity.

Juliana, the beauty in her family, is not looking for a husband while in London. Instead, she's secretly looking for a way to publish her music. But unbeknownst to the innocent Juliana is that her pursuit has garnered the attention of Lord Kyd and thus spikes the resentment of a very dangerous foe. Despite the fact that Juliana's acquaintance with Lord Kyd is a harmless business adventure, Juliana has roused the petty jealousy of a very powerful woman that has the means to destroy her reputation with a very seductive weapon.

Reminiscent of CRUEL INTENTIONS, Sin's deranged half-sister convinces him that the beautifully innocent Juliana is attempting to steal Lord Kyd's affections with marriage in mind. Saddened and petulant over what she feels is a complete offense on Juliana's part, she manipulates Sin into agreeing to seduce Juliana and then publicly discard her. Feeling protective of his half-sister, Sin is compelled to do as she bids and embarks on his seduction of Juliana.

Forgetting Sin's half-sister's request for a moment, it was odd to read of a rakish hero specifically pursuing a woman like Juliana. In my general reading experience, most historical heroes shudder at the thought of dallying with a virgin miss on the marriage mart. For one, if they get caught stealing the goods, whether it be consensual or not, the consequence is marriage especially if said innocent has a very powerful protector. Even if the innocent is lacking a protector, most jaded men such as Sin find a virgin boring so it was unconventional to say the least that Sin pursues Juliana not only at his half-sister's bidding, but for his own amusement as well. Even more shocking, Juliana is not adverse to the idea.

Juliana was a befuddling character. Her ultimate desire is to publish music but the emphasis on this pursuit wasn't to a degree that the reader would believe her capable of completely shunning the idea of marriage. In fact, there really isn't a time that she proclaims that she'll never get married but the reader is supposed to believe that this is why she allows Sin's seduction. In essence, Julianna risked ruination not only by associating with Sin but by allowing him to take her virginity with very little to gain nor even for a really good reason other than attraction. In a day and age where even a whisper of nefarious actions would taint a girl and her family beyond repair, I was surprised to read of a heroine like Juliana risking her sisters' chances at marriage for a tumble in the sheets.

Sin, in the first hundred pages, ranked a bit on the sleazy side for me. The things he said and did had me giggling or thinking "yuck". In addition, Juliana seemed an easy conquest for it took very little effort on Sin's part to convince her to allow his demanding touch. But despite these early mishaps, Sin's falling in love with Juliana was very sweet. The whole notion of not knowing what you have until its gone was very much in evidence with Sin's fall leading to one of the best scenes in the book. After a horrific family bet forces Juliana to the side of another man, Sin, having not been apprised of the situation, is outraged that she's left him and his emotion was absolutely palpable. I also thought that Sin righted the terrible wrongs he committed towards Juliana when he first treated her as just another one of his conquests. He does pay dearly for this initial callous treatment in more ways than one and his inevitable atonement was beautiful.

It was obvious from the writing that Alexandra Hawkins is an author that knows and understands romance. Given that, it was surprising to read a novel, debut or not, where the romance felt a bit hurried resulting in Sin's sleaziness and Juliana being a bit easy. This may have been because the external plot points needed extra page dedication, but the novel, in my opinion, would have benefited from more pages dedicated to Sin's and Juliana's romance. If the romance between the H/h had been more developed, then I believe that ALL NIGHT WITH A ROGUE could have been a great read rather than merely okay. That being said, I'm definitely going to pick up whatever Ms. Hawkins delivers next.

ALL NIGHT WITH A ROGUE is a novel that will be appealed to readers who enjoy their historical fare on the steamier side. Plus, the six other Lords of Vice are just as broodingly-rakish as Sin, thus promising that more steamy books are to come.

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