Thoughts on some historical romance novels #3

Three Nights of Sin by Anne Mallory

The following review contains spoilers. Click here to read the spoiler-free version.

I have to reread this one! This is a wonderfully written book with an interesting characters and unpredictable plot. My only complaint at the end was how late I realized these qualities. I failed to see the appeal of the book at first but halfway through things took a different turn. The book completely took me by surprise, left me quite pleased and a little bit baffled about my stupidity in not recognizing the gem standing in front of my eyes the whole time.

So characters first… In the beginning, Gabriel seemed too much of an an arrogant playboy who always had his way with everyone and, perhaps, talked a bit too much during sex. It was as if he was immune to feelings. I really didn’t like him after seeing how he could seduce Marietta, totally devoid of emotion. It was after I finished the book that I realized what he meant by “almost losing control.” In the end, he finally decides to defeat the controlling urge inside him, stemming from a deep vulnerability hidden in his past, and asks Marietta to take the lead and “free him.” The way he was completely undone by the novelty of appreciating passion was so moving, especially when he tried to cover his face to hide his expression of ecstasy. I literally melted reading that scene.

So, Gabriel is in fact a deeply tortured hero with a haunting past and unspeakable secrets. I mean he was broken beyond any almost hero I have so far read about. What fascinated me most about this book was how the author created this deliciously virile hero from an emasculated servant. At first Gabriel was nothing more than a pretty shell, but he became stunning after the author started to fill it up with his personality, providing a look into his past to reveal how he became what he is today. She did a wonderful job depicting this devil of a man and then showing in fact how vulnerable and compassionate he really was. And, oh, isn’t he a unique hero now? He is the richest man in London and he is not of noble birth (I always prefer commoner heroes to aristocratic ones). He is a self-made man, a fighter and the pure definition of masculinity. And he cooks!

As for Marietta, I didn’t think she was anything special, especially with that name. I don’t have much to say about her; Gabriel was the star of this book. But she is not just any heroine either. She is well-written throughout the book and doesn’t act in an out-of-character way. She is protective and a survivor, qualities which draw Gabriel into taking her case because he feels close to her. She is also caring and insightful. She can decipher the great enigma known as Gabriel. And she is not shy when it comes to passion, which is always a plus for me. I like it that she too initiates lovemaking ^^;

Besides its vibrant hero and heroine, this book is special with its Gabriel & Marietta moments. I am driven by characters and moments rather than the actual plot. So I liked that the two got to share a lot of moments alone and not solely in bed. Since the plot is quiet unusual, Gabriel and Marietta have to stay under the same roof and most of the time they have privacy. They run the same household by day and go out chasing clues at night under a different disguise each time. This way they got to know each other better and got used to each other’s presence. And the scene where they were washing the dishes together was simply priceless. I bet it’s a fan-favorite :)

Perhaps one complaint that I have concerning the relationship between the Gabriel and Marietta (though it’s mostly a preference) is that I like to see the characters fall in love, yes, but I also want to see them in love, being all dizzy and utterly happy. And this book did not really show the aftermath of the happy ending.

Other than its adorable couple, this book shines with its plot too. There is a mystery to be solved, a murderer on the loose. And I must say the book does well in this aspect. I really hate it when historical romance authors try to incorporate cheap mysteries into the story but this one did a lot more than ok for sure. I thought my heart stopped when the murderer was finally revealed. There are some scenes that have remarkable depth at the end of the book, fueled by sensitive moral issues such as rape and child abuse that the book touches upon. I thought the story was especially bold in dealing with the subject of rape of young boys by adult women. This was, without a doubt, the most shocking aspect of the book and, while disturbing me considerably, it did not put me off from reading but rather made me respect the author even more. I’m not sure I want to delve into these issues right now, although the book trigged me to do some thinking. Perhaps another time.

Finally, I think the misfortune of this book is its presentation to the reader. Everything from the cover image to the title is misleading. And that blurb! It is as if it’s talking about a whole different book. Honestly, if I came across this book at a bookshop, I wouldn’t buy it. This one owes this review to this post by Ashley March. I read her review of five historical romances, thought we shared the same preferences, took a risk and bought all the books. And since I had already read Lisa Kleypas’ Tempt Me at Twilight and liked it, I thought I’d be safe with the rest. So far this has proved to be a great decision. I am currently reading Yours Until Dawn by Teresa Medeiros (in French!) and I am intrigued.

So, I recommend Three Nights of Sin to everyone who is looking for more than a love story. This book may not be the best historical romance I’ve read but it certainly is the most interesting and unusual one. So if you are bored with the London society match-making type of romances, give this one a go. And do try to ignore the cover image while doing that!

Sensuality rating: Hot (according to All About Romance)

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