Lady of Sin - Madeline Hunter I'm feeling generous today, so I'll round up my actual 3.5 rating in the star rating.

This book was going so well until I reached the end. The prose was good, the dialogue was some of the best I've read in an HR in quite some time, and the characters were both flawed and sympathetic. So what made me hack off 1.5 stars at the very end of my journey through Lady of Sin? It's hard to narrow it down. Maybe it was the deus ex machina that practically thrust me into insulin shock. Perhaps it was the way the main characters made a horrible decision at the very end of the story in order to guarantee their own happiness. And by "horrible," I don't mean ill-advised. I use the word "horrible" to mean awful, immoral and irresponsible x 1 billion.



Women's rights reformer Charlotte Mardenford and courtroom advocate Nathaniel Knightridge have never gotten along very well. I can't give you much reason for their distaste for each other aside from the fact that they both frequently refer to their fascinating past of turning every conversation into an argument. Of course, this all changes when Nathaniel nearly seduces Charlotte after she shows up at his bachelor's lodgings to gain his help with one of her campaigns. He has no idea that Charlotte is the woman he spent a night of passion with AT AN ORGY a month ago, and even though Charlotte knows, she's keeping her lips sealed. However, despite Nathaniel's slight obsession with his "mystery woman," he's still drawn to Charlotte. When Nathaniel gets dragged into a legal matter pertaining to Charlotte's stuffy brother-in-law, he realizes that he's about to stumble into a house of cards that could destroy Charlotte's precious reputation. So, he sets forth to uncover some dastardly secrets, while she begs him to keep whatever dastardly secrets her family totally doesn't have (because Charlotte's deep in denial) a secret. It's very exhausting. The bickering couple are forced to join forces to either uncover (or bury) the mystery of a little homeless boy who looks an awful lot like the brother-in-law, and naturally, Charlotte's "totes honorable" dead husband Phillip gets pulled into the turmoil. Will Charlotte resist the man who can bring about her family's total destruction, or will they do the horizontal tango many, MANY times?


I liked Nathaniel. He behaves very honorably up until the end and genuinely cares for Charlotte. I wouldn't say that he's particularly interesting, but he has a few cute moments and always tries to do the right thing. Charlotte is a bit of a different story. I understand her motivation to wish to be the one respectable member of a scandalous family. That's only natural for the woman, especially after marrying into the stuffy Mardenford family. However, it was difficult for me to connect the uptight, denial-ridden baroness with the apparently sympathetic and independent women's rights reformer. I have a soft spot for women of early feminism, and Charlotte isn't nearly interesting or charismatic enough to join their ranks. She spends a lot of time feeling sorry for herself and protecting a boring family that isn't even hers by blood when most people of her apparent temperament would be much more consumed with helping the truly unfortunate soul wrapped up in the scandal. There's a little boy out there who could very possibly be the rightful heir to the Mardenford title. Nathaniel seems to be the only one concerned with elevating the boy to his rightful status, while Charlotte spends a ridiculous amount of time "hating" Nathaniel for not "making it go away." She just seems a bit selfish to me, and that characteristic clashes a lot with the way her character is described.

The one character I really liked was Nathaniel's dad, a tight-laced, control freak earl. The man only has two scenes in the entire book - much to my disappointment - but both scenes are pure gold.


The sex is sweet and tastefully sensual. Madeline Hunter writes the romance very well. Unfortunately, Charlotte and Nathaniel lack chemistry in some parts. I think that has a lot to do with my skepticism about their love-hate relationship. The tension between them just fizzled out for me.

Do not read below if you don't want to be spoiled. I'm serious. Click out of here right now.

I don't care whose reputation is at stake. Charlotte could have been the fucking Queen, and I still would have valued justice over her stupid reputation. Nathaniel seriously must have lost his marbles to let the bad guy GO like it was no big deal. Unlike the characters, I figured out who the bad guy was, his motivation, AND the big mystery reveal very early in the book. So, by the end of the story, I wanted some freaking justice. And did I get any? NO.

The villain straight-up kills a person (possibly two), and all Nathaniel does is make him give Charlotte custody of his son and leave the country. I'm guessing he does this so the villain can MURDER some more people on the continent. Oh, and the poor homeless kid who was robbed of his title by the family's big damn secrets? He STILL doesn't get the title because Nathaniel wants to protect Charlotte from the scandal it will create for her. Apparently, Charlotte's adult emotions are just to pwecious to handle some unfortunate fall-out from a situation that wasn't her fault in the first place. Instead of the adults doing the right thing, though, one kid may be able to visit his murderer of a father when he's a little older, and another kid won't be told he's probably a goddamn baron until he's old enough to take care of the problem all by his lonesome. But, you see, Nathaniel explains this away by saying he's optimistic that the boys will love each other and their little ramshackle family too much to bring any scandal upon them. Ha! Right! This is so sloppily done. The only person forced to sacrifice anything is the innocent child who did nothing to deserve his crap-tastic life, while the privileged people around him continue to be privileged at his expense.

Oh, and then there's the ridiculous deus ex machina. Because everybody knows that a romance heroine is only barren until she meets the hero's magical wang of fertility, poor, sad, childless Charlotte ends up preggers at the end of the story. Just throw in the kitchen sink while you're at it, World. If Charlotte must have everything, then please go the whole nine yards!

At the end, I'm torn. The writing is lovely, and the story kept me intrigued. Sadly, that ending needs to die in a fire somewhere because I've never met a resolution that made me hate two main characters more. It tainted my entire perception of the story, and I really wish I could forget it.

"A Wedding Wager" is a part of my Care-Package-Ageddon series of book reviews in gratitude to my GR friend Karla for sending me a GIANT BOX O'BOOKS. She said I "might" like some of them. o_O