To Seduce a Sinner

Elizabeth Hoyt
To Seduce a Sinner
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Grand Central Publishing
Release Date
November 2008
Book 2 of The Legend of the Four Soldiers
Historical Romance


For years, Melisande Fleming has loved Lord Vale from afar . . . watching him seduce a succession of lovers, and once, catching a glimpse of heartbreaking depths beneath his roguish veneer. When he's jilted on his wedding day, she boldly offers to be his.


Vale gladly weds Melisande, if only to produce an heir. But he's pleasantly surprised: A shy and proper Lady by day, she's a wanton at night, giving him her body—though not her heart.


Determined to learn her secrets, this sinner starts to woo his seductive new wife—while hiding the nightmares from his soldiering days in the Colonies that still haunt him. Yet when a deadly betrayal from the past threatens to tear them apart, Lord Vale must bare his soul to the woman he married...or risk losing her forever.

Book Review by Bridget (reviewer)
Apr 24, 2011   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
193 people found the following review helpful
How does one survive a four-hour flight delay? Well, the free animal crackers didn't hurt, but the key is to find a good book to pass the time. I found this one and was intrigued, as much by the historical setting (the French and Indian War is something I remember too many books tackling), as by the promise of a good love story. What I got was a captivating romance with deeply complex characters, a thoughtful and moving plot, and enough passion to make any delay well worth the wait. Though I was a little sad to realize it was the second book in the series, I went out soon after and picked up the first in order to catch up.

We begin by finding Jasper Renshaw in the middle of a genuinely bad day—not only is he burdened with a hangover of epic proportions, but his second fiancé has just abandoned him in the church vestry is order to marry a curate. The loss is not a difficult one—all he really wants is a woman who will tolerate him long enough to produce an heir and then leave him in peace to continue cultivating his reputation as a thoroughly debauched rascal. What he never counted on was finding another woman who would volunteer to be his bride.

Jasper has known Melisande for some time, but can barely be bothered to remember her name—she is far too serious and far too plain and not at all the kind of woman to whom he would normally pay the slightest attention. But before very long, Jasper finds himself in the very awkward position of falling in love with his own wife.

But love brings serious complications; for Jasper soon learns that Melisande is so much more than he first assumed. She is passionate, intriguing, intelligent, and though she welcomes Jasper's physical attentions, she refuses to let him past her defenses and share her secrets. Unless he is willing to share his. And while he would welcome a closer relationship with her, Jasper is terrified of his wife discovering the secrets of his wartime experiences—the terror and the loss that left him empty, betrayed and has forced him to spend his life running from the memories. Though he cannot let her go, Jasper is sure that she could never love the man he has become since that experience—until a visitor from those dark days threatens any promise of happiness that Jasper and Melisande may have…

While I found Jasper an intriguing supporting character in the first book in the series, I freely admit to falling in love with him by the end of the first chapter of this book. Jasper, at heart, is neither the Alpha Male he wishes he was, nor is he the dissipated rascal Melisande expects him to be. His frivolity and ostentatious presence is a very clever act to hide a great deal of pain and to shield those near him from getting too close. At heart, he is kind, gentle and terrified by his own depth of feeling for his new wife— need not only for her body, but for her heart. The scars he bears are all very much internal ones, and the effort he puts into keeping them—and most of his true feelings—hidden is heartbreaking to see. I can't go into too much detail without giving away the arc of this series, but suffice it to say Jasper is a man of hidden depths and secrets. He hides not only his past, but true self from the world, and it is a real literary feat to be able to portray such a complicated character so well.

Though Melisande was also introduced in the first book, up until now we have only seen a quiet, plain and sensible young lady, and not the deep, complex person that hides behind the exterior. Though her past is not nearly as dark as Jasper's, it turns out that she does have plenty of secrets for her husband, and the reader, to learn. For those familiar with her, it's fascinating to see the few subtle hints Melisande gives as to her past and her real feelings for Jasper develop in this book. I loved how strong she turned out to be—although she is willing to help her husband as he deals with his demons, she's never willing to let him off the hook for ignoring her for so long, and is more than ready to show him how mistaken he was to overlook her. Overall, the complexity and the thoughtfulness that went into their relationship made these two a wonderful, if unlikely pair, remarkably well-suited to each other.

The story that unites the Legend of the Four Soldier's Series is the mystery surrounding the betrayal of Jasper's men in the colonies that indelibly marked each hero in the series. While a romance this intricate didn't need much of a secondary plot, this one is actually quite interesting. Because the events of the war were so pivotal to each man, their quest actually reveals deeper secrets about their own natures. Part of the genius of this series is in resolving just enough in each book to satisfy the reader, while building up enough mystery to make the next book an imperative read. I can't wait to see how the plot develops further, but I doubt that anyone is about to replace Jasper in my heart. All in all, this book was a godsend, not only providing me with a way to pass an otherwise torturous wait, but also introducing me to one of the best series I've read in some time.
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