Read with: Amazon Kindle
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Harlequin Spice
Hero: Matthew Wallingford
Heroine: Jane Rankin
Date of Publication: May 1, 2010
Started On: January 22, 2011
Finished On: January 23, 2011
First of all, let me just take a few minutes of my reviewing time to just gaze at this wonderful cover and salivate over it to my heart’s content. This has got to be one of the most beautiful covers on a romance novel and yes of course it helps that Matthew is displayed in all his glory on the cover.
Sinful by Charlotte Featherstone is a book that seems to have got its fair share of mixed reviews from readers. Most have loved the book until the ending which left them totally stunned in disbelief because its rare for a romance novel to end as this one did, though I have come across one other book with an ending such as this one when I read A Stranger’s Wife by Maggie Osborne. I believe I belong in the latter group of those who actually LOVED the story as it was, maybe because I was prepared for the story’s ending to be a shocker which didn’t really shock me that much in the end. And it might also have something to do with the fact that I have had prior experience with this type of ending and whilst it may not be the ideal conclusion for a romance, it is certainly different which has its own charm as well.
Sinful stars one of the most cynical and jaded heroes I have come across in my reading life. The Earl of Wallingford, Matthew is cynical to the max and has no qualms about admitting to himself that he is an unconscionable rake with insatiable appetites who finds the facade of Victorian morality a mockery. Having had seen very little goodness in his life, Matthew is as tortured a hero as they come. A father who had never liked what Matthew had been even as a boy with a mother who had finally grown tired of her husband’s continued criticism because of her son, Matthew had watched his mother leave a forlorn and lonely boy behind to go with her lover only to a die a horrible death by accident. Stunningly masculine with a face that is exceedingly handsome which holds a beauty that’s dark and sensual, Matthew is an artist, a fact that his father continually mocks. Matthew expects every woman he comes across to have a price for being with him whether it be an emotional or physical one and is used to being the one who can always shock polite society with his untoward behavior. But beneath all this lies a soul so very tortured by what he went through since he turned 15 years old; the experience leaving him unable to bear anyone’s touch on himself even though depravity is Matthew’s middle name.
Enter the 27 year old spinsterish Jane Rankin with her curly red hair sporting spectacles that hides her deep green eyes and a top lip that had been scarred by the back of a man’s hand. A woman of suspect birth with an aristocrat for a father to whom Jane’s mother Lucy has been mistress to, at the age of 7, Jane’s father had kicked his mistress and illegitimate child out leaving them destitute and homeless. Jane at that tender age had resolved that she would never become any man’s mistress nor would she allow a man to dictate her life. And its a resolution that Jane has stuck by even when the going had got tough. Salvation had come in the form of Lady Blackwood who had saved her from the streets and given her a life. A lady’s companion by day and a nurse at the London College Hospital by night, Jane is firmly rooted in her resolve to remain independent though at odd times she yearns for a man’s touch and wants what true love could bring to her life.
These two souls that hide behind facades of their own making shaped up by their experiences when growing up meet by chance when Matthew is brought in as a patient to the hospital where Jane works. From the moment Matthew feels Jane’s fleeting touches and hears her angelic voice, its as if salvation has come calling for him to take him back to the shores of life. Though Matthew is unable to see his Jane’s face during his hospital stay, the white hot attraction that flares up between them is an all consuming one which left me totally breathless at times. Jane who has never had an untoward thought about any patient of hers finds herself yearning to touch the perfection that Matthew’s body is. Not knowing who he is apart from the fact that he could be royalty, a bond is forged between these two that each wants to fight but can’t help but give in to.
As Jane and Matthew’s relationship starts off on shaky grounds, so emerges a tale immersed in darkness with a few surprising twists towards the end. Matthew and Jane’s happily ever after certainly is not one served on a silver platter as Matthew’s dreaded father and stepmother contrive to keep these two apart and Jane with her avowal of becoming a respected member of the society certainly doesn’t give up the values that she has held close to her up until now. All this makes for a really good romance to sink into and the scorching passion between Matthew and Jane is so skillfully done that you can’t help but want more of where that came from.
- THE COVER!! I just freaking love it! Kudos to the artist. Its such a beautiful cover art for a story that is beautiful and unique which the cover portrays so very well.
- Matthew Wallingford. Fans of tortured heroes are going to love him and I absolutely fell for him right from the very first chapter itself. At first when Matthew and Jane meets, I thought that all the hype about Matthew being a bad-ass was just all talk as Matthew seemed to swoon into this puddle of goo whenever Jane was around. But 28% into the story, I said hello to the Matthew I was looking for. The cynical and jaded Matthew who lashes out at the only woman who has been able to see through his facade into the loneliness carved and etched onto his soul; the only woman whose touch he craves more than life itself. The way he aches for Jane and her touch which seems to purify his soul and begins chipping away at the ice that shrouds his heart and his smoldering sensuality with his swoon-in-front-of-him good looks certainly makes Matthew one of the most delectable and unforgettable heroes ever.
- Jane Rankin. She starts out sounding prim, proper and spinsterish as well as plain. But around Matthew, Jane transforms into the sensual woman she is supposed to be, a woman who yearns to possess and be possessed by the man she loves. Under Matthew’s smoldering gaze, Jane transforms into a woman of immense beauty, her character and strength lending her a beauty that glows right from the depth of her soul which makes her one of the most endearing heroines ever. I loved Jane for standing by her values, never letting them go until she had taken the time to decide what was right for her. And I loved Matthew for letting Jane go, so that she could come back on her own terms which made this book a winner for me.
- The sizzling sensuality of this story. It has the quality to leave the reader breathless, made me yearn for more and much more as the story moved along. I believe its a testament to Ms. Featherstone’s writing style that I loved each and every encounter that took place between Matthew and Jane.
- The epilogue which is available separately from the story. Though I didn’t find the ending available in the story itself lacking, the epilogue is a beautiful piece of work that is a fitting ending for a romance that holds readers enthralled all throughout the story. Loved knowing how things turned out for Matthew and Jane in the end.
- The reason I didn’t find the ending lacking in the story itself is because Ms. Featherstone certainly didn’t end up providing instant-formula solutions to the very huge obstacles that seemed to stand in the way of Jane and Matthew getting together. So in a way this story is more meaningful because of that and I think I loved this story just a little more just because of that!
I disliked: Can’t think of anything I would change within this story. Loved every single morsel of the story.
She was too close, his brain warned, but his body overruled logical thought, and he wanted her closer, until her breasts were crushed against him, and his mouth was buried in her throat.
“Sir, release me.”
“Jane…” He released his hold and brought his hand up, connecting with what felt like a soft, plump cheek. She had ample time to retreat from him, but even with his blindness, he could see that she moved closer. “Jane,” he murmured again, not understanding this strange fascination with her name, or the sound of it coming from his mouth.
“Stay with me, Jane.” he mumbled hours later as he clasped her small hand to his chest.
“I cannot,” she replied quietly. “The dawn has arrived.”
“I despise the morning,” he murmured, tracing the satiny nails of her fingers with his fingertips. “I am a creature of darkness, whose element is night and shadows. I belong in the dark with the other sinful creatures.”
She caressed his cheek, and he did not flinch and shrink away in revulsion. Instead, he savored that gentle touch, eating it up like a starving man given a few scraps of bread.
Their fingertips touched and he felt as though he’d been punched in the middle. As their fingers entwined, he felt something that was at once welcoming yet terrifying. Looking down at their locked hands, he realized it was a sense of … completion. Instinct told him to block the feeling. But then she spoke, her voice causing a warmth to spread throughout his body.
His breath hissed through his lips and he dropped her wrist as if he had been burned. He felt trapped, suffocated. Retreat, his mind screamed. Run away from what she is suggesting. Yet he wanted her with such fierceness, he wanted to possess her, to take her and bend her to his will. His thoughts stopped, the war within ceased, and he came to her, taking her by the shoulders, shoving her up against the wall as he tore at the slender straps of her chemise.
“You do not know what you’re asking for,” he growled as he pressed his face into her unbound hair. It was wet, and the coolness did nothing to clear the fire that raged in him.
“You thought I believed you insignificant, but the truth is, I find you fascinating. You think I suppose you’re not pretty, but Jane,” he said, looking up, “I find you stunning. Your eyes … your imperfect mouth. It’s beautiful, and I want to paint you how I see you, sensual and womanly, dying to break free of an ideal that imprisons you.”
Staring at the window of his study, Matthew watched as the door of the carriage shut behind Jane. Their gazes met, and despite the fact that Jane had asked that he not see her off, he had not been able to resist one last look at the woman who had changed him, who’d awakened not only the man, but the heart inside him.
Jane… Resting his flattened palm on the glass, he tried to connect with her, if only for a fleeting second, I need your touch …
Despite the silence, Jane heard him and his desperate plea. Her own small hand, devoid of a glove, rested against the carriage window, holding him palm to palm, despite glass, brick and mortar. The sun chose that moment to shine, illuminating the copper curls that had escaped her bonnet, and the glistening trails of tears that slid down her pale cheeks.
Pressing his forehead to the cool glass, he held her gaze, her palm, his eyes pleading with her. Don’t go. Don’t leave me.
- Fans of Charlotte Featherstone.
- Fans of historical romances who like their romances with a little more spice in it than usual.
- Fans of romances who would like a story that ends just a tad differently from your usual ones.
And the funny thing is, just as I sat down to write the review with music blaring from the headphones, the song Sweetest Sin by Jessica Simpson came up on my playlist which struck a chord deep within me which I somehow found to be perfect for this story. So I leave my review with a couple of lines from the lyrics for you all to enjoy.
Can you imagine us,
The way you would feel the first time that we touched,
Can you think of it…
The way I dream of it,
I want you to see like im seeing you…
It’s a picture of perfection,
The vision of you and me…
Your lips upon my lips,
Can you just picture this …
Your finger tips on my finger tips,
Your skin upon my skin …
Would be the sweetest sin …