Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Dell
Released on April 27, 2004
After the events in the last book that left me dying to know what came of Alleyne, I dove in and put my fears to rest. He’s a Bedwyn. Even an epic battle couldn’t end him. Though, in all seriousness, it was war and a stray bullet did nearly end him save a generous, determined woman and a broken soldier saving Alleyne’s life. This was my favorite entry in the series since Aidan’s story in book one.
Slightly Sinful is the fifth in the Bedwyn saga and would work fine standalone if necessary. That said, it works best when read in order as the series is about a family of siblings getting their romances.
Alleyne is the youngest of the Bedwyn brothers and feeling somewhat at loose ends. He takes up a diplomatic job as assistant to Sir Charles Stewart on the eve of Waterloo. He is given the task of delivering a message from Stewart to the Duke of Wellington on the raging battlefield. He completes the task and sets out with the reply only to be hit in the thigh by a bullet. His horse spooks, throws him and he hits his head only to wake up in a brothel with no memories. He’s being cared for by a handful of entertaining ladies of the night and a young woman who is not what she seems and tries to put on a brave front though she’s been battered about and now is at a loss. Can a man with no personal memories still manage to know when a good thing is right in front of him?.
Rachel York is full of guilt and remorse for naively trusting a scoundrel with her friends’ life savings, her own nest egg, and stupidly thinking they were engaged when he runs off with it all. She and her friends who sell themselves to make ends meet are stuck in Brussels with little money and a burning desire to get their money back and a bit of revenge from Crawley. Now, she’s burdened them with the handsome wounded man they decide to call Jonathan Smith who has amnesia and a gruff sergeant who was wounded in war and dismissed from the only thing he’d ever known. Mr. Smith and the others have a devilish scheme to get her jewels from her tightfisted uncle so she can sell them and restore everyone’s money. She can go along with the plan of deception, but she must guard her heart from falling in love with a man who could be anyone.
If this book had a theme, it’s there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to people and situations. It also blends heavier themes with lightheartedness to create a romping adventure when a group of people set out to catch up with a crook and shake him down for their money and do a scheme of deception of their own to help Rachel be put in possession of her rightful fortune. I’m always up for a good misfits tale and there is nothing more misfit than four middle-aged prostitutes, a one-eyed former army sergeant, an amnesic gentleman and a naive young lady.
Rachel possesses beauty, generosity, loyalty, and determination, but she was hampered in the beginning by sheltered naivete and a need to be wanted and loved after her parents are dead, her father gambled away a comfortable income, and her sole remaining relation has turned his back on her. I felt sorry for her because her past had left her not just lonely and needing family, but desperate for it which was why she was easily duped by a conman and now gets all growly when Alleyne identifies her as a lady and not with her prostitute friends. She even goes so far as to lie to him and say she is a prostitute before she attempts to seduce him because she has the mistaken notion that losing her virginity will identify her more closely with her friends and take away her naivete. She can’t even see just how she wronged him by the lie or the future repercussions on herself- a baby? a venereal disease? a hard and desperate life as a woman who is always being used and used up to survive?
Alleyne’s story is interesting after seeing him as a side character throughout the series. He’s lighthearted and takes very little seriously. He’s loyal and helpful when his family needs him, but is restless and trying to figure out his place in life like his older siblings. Then, here he is with a clean slate. His personality is unaltered and of course he questions and fears the unknown that is his past, but he puts this aside to help Rachel secure her future before trying to figure out his own. It was interesting seeing how his character grew and became a part of a makeshift family even though he was also part of another family.
The romance is a blend of fake mates and friends to lovers. Attraction is there, but the deeper feelings develop over the long haul. I felt that the romance wasn’t always front and center though it was always there even when Rachel learns the truth of her past and gets that family she was always craving, while the group worked to take down the shyster who took their money, and then when its Alleyne’s turn to face his past.
There was so much going on in this one that I know I haven’t done it justice. I really enjoyed how the author wove it all together and brought out all the emotions in me. I think I liked this one precisely for all the elements equally balanced instead of the romance filling up the middle and marginalizing the rest. This was a solid outing in the series and leaves me buzzing with need for the most highly anticipated book in the series with the romance of the icy, utterly controlled, and powerful Wulfric. This is a solid historical romance series that I can definitely recommend particularly if you like the tie of family.
Mt. TBR #49
Library Love #17
Series That Never Ends #6
Oldie But a Goodie #11