A Most Sinful Proposal - Sara Bennett WARNING: SPOILERS AND GIFS AHEAD!

Oh, fiddlesticks. Where to begin? Where to begin? Like Maria in The Sound of Music, I suppose it's appropriate to start at the very beginning before breaking into the DO-RE-MIs of this review.

And I swear to the goddesses or Romancelandia that I knew I was doomed - DOOOOOMMMMMED - on page 2 when I read this delightful typo nugget:

"I know George Kent is very handsome, and I am aware of several girls who have a tender for him, but Marissa, you are the cleverest person of my acquaintance and the Honorable George does not have the reputation of a learned man. Won't you grow bored with him?" (Page 2)

So, there are two things incredibly wrong with that passage. First, let's focus on tender. I understand that French is a different language than English and all, but any regular HR reader knows that the lady speaking is probably shooting for "tendre" as an appropriate term. If she does, by some bizarre fact, mean "tender" for realz, I want to know what kind of tender. Chicken? Beef? A person who tends to others? I understand that typos happen. But really? On Page 2?

Secondly, take a look at what's being said about this Marissa character. The things that are being said? Total fucking lies. Marissa Rotherhild the character is not clever by any stretch of the imagination. Also, I can't think of a reason on Earth why Marissa would grow bored of anyone. Whenever she isn't being a judgmental shrew or irrationally changing her mind at a whim, she really has nothing to offer. Just blocks of boring inner monologues and years of built-up sexual repression - which isn't as interesting as it could be, believe me.

There I was, glaring at the second page of a book, and it seemed that A Most Sinful Proposal and I had a hell of a journey in store for us. And not a spectacular journey through the Alps or the rainforest or even Yellowstone, either. This book was like a journey through the files of an actuary's office. Bland, boring, tedious, ugh.

I promised reviews from my cats, and Little K is a kitty of few words.

Back in finishing school, Marissa Rotherhild and a few like-minded ladies of annoying character created a pox on mankind called the Husband Hunting Club. Inspired by their totes original club title, the ladies seem to do little else than talk about the poor, unsuspecting men they plan to trap into marriage. So, Marissa has set her sights on George Kent, some foppish and frivolous dude she seems to desire solely because he isn't anything like her parents. Marissa's mom and dad are flower-loving botanists, you see, and that's apparently been very traumatic for poor wittle Marissa. At George's invitation to a "house party," Marissa and her horny grandmother show up at the estate of Lord Valentine Kent, George's older brother. But there are two problems: (1)There is no house party, and George is currently MIA, and (2)Valentine is a total hottie but ruins EVERYTHING by being obsessed with roses. Valentine's been a bit of a recluse since his cold, bitter wife died a few years prior, and he devotes all of his time to roses and searching for some multi-colored Crusader's Rose that was brought to England by the Knights Templar or something. This is very serious business to Valentine.

totes serious marshall
Marshmallow is so big that he makes a great bookstand when I run out of room in the house.

The search for the Crusader's Rose is so serious, in fact, that Valentine has a nemesis who resorts to dastardly deeds to find the rose first. At no point does this pursuit of the rose or the drama surrounding it become interesting. Just throwing that out there. Eventually, or rather pretty much immediately, Valentine and Marissa realize that they have a super-duper passion for each other. This mutual realization leads to Marissa pursuing Valentine to - I'm still not sure - explore her passionate nature and somehow increase her chances of hooking up with George? Lots of almost-sex happens, people walk around in gardens looking for a rose like it's the most romantic thing EVER, and Marissa and Valentine circle around the question of when lust becomes love and boring becomes interesting.

An Illustration of the Plot:

The Characters:
There's nothing particularly wrong about Valentine. He's apparently honorable when he isn't having oral sex with the strange lady who shows up at his house to make lovey-dovey eyes at his brother. Once Valentine commits to Marissa, he commits whole-heartedly. The angst about his dead wife mysteriously disappears in the second half of the book, and Valentine lives up to his romantic name. Alas, the man is so. incredibly. BORING. "Blah, blah, blah. ROSES. Blah, blah, blah. I have a boner for Marissa but don't want to RUIN her. Blah, blah, blah. I must find the rose because finding it will make me FAMOUS! Blah, blah, blah. Sex is only sex if you don't penetrate the virgin the whole way." Basically, I'm fairly confident that Valentine's wet dreams prior to (hell, and probably after) Marissa look like this:

"Hee! The rose petals make my feet smell ROSY!

Marissa, for her part, doesn't make a lick of sense. She walks around yapping all the time, and she says a lot of fucking words. But nothing she says or does is even logical.

Take for example what Sara Bennett wants us to believe about Marissa:
1. She's beautiful.
2. She's sensible and rational.
3. She's very intelligent, a bluestocking at heart.
4. She fucking HATES roses and flowers of any kind.
5. She's apparently some hopeless goddamn martyr because her flighty parents forgot about her tenth birthday party.
6. She's worthy of Valentine's love because she's simply amazing.

But let's decide if Marissa's ACTIONS line up with her DESCRIPTORS:
Upon arriving at Valentine's estate - "George is the man I want to marry. We're so similar and have all the same interests. We're a match made in heaven! I will pursue him like he's an unsuspecting buck in the wilderness and have my husband hunting way with him."

After meeting Valentine - "George's brother is totally sexy, but he likes flowers and stuff, so ... Um, no thanks. Ew."

When Valentine invites her to help him search for the Crusader's Rose - "I fucking HATE flowers, okay? But ... you say you want to look for them there? IDK, hot stuff. I insist on traipsing through abandoned gardens with you to find this totally uninteresting rose that I hate."

After Valentine gives her an orgasm for the first time - "I still totally want to marry George, but now I REALLY want to have hot, naked, unprotected sex with you. My grandma's a bohemian, and she said it's totally okay if I try out a couple of race horses before settling on a quarter horse. Fuck me, Valentine."

When Valentine refuses to fuck her because it wouldn't be right - "You are SO UNREASONABLE, you unreasonable cad! It is my virginity to GIVE. OKAY? Just because it's 1837, and I could very likely end up ruined and diseased by allowing your rod of love in my no-no place does NOT mean you can treat me like a child. And I still plan to marry George!"

After begging Valentine to have teh sex with her again: "I don't want to marry George. I want to marry Valentine, even though he loves everything I hate. CURSED ROSES!"

When the crazy villain goes crazy: "It's perfectly acceptable for a lady of my social class to pursue a madman with my secret lover. NOTHING can go wrong in this scenario. Oh, look! I even get to SHOOT the bad guy because my dumbass boy-toy didn't think far enough ahead to carry a gun to their BIG SHOWDOWN."

After Valentine finally has sex with her and they get engaged: "It's so nice when he's humping me, but now ... I don't know. He's just too much like my dorky parents, who are so selfish with their interest in flowers and stuff. BUT I LOVE HIM. BUT I HATE FLOWERS. BUT I LOVE HIM. BUT I HATE FLOWERS. BUT I LOVE HIM. BUT I FUCKING HATE FLOWERS. Now that I have everything I've always wanted, I don't WANT it anymore!"

"Shut the fuck up!"

The other characters aren't any better. Marissa's granny is the Worst Chaperon Ever. What kind of grandmother in the year 1837 encourages her grand-daughter to try out a couple guys' love wands before getting married? Does she want Marissa to catch the clap? George is a feckless little twerp a majority of the time. I have no idea what Marissa ever saw in the guy, especially after he invited her to a house party and didn't show up for days. The villain is full-on cray-cray, but his motivations are very random and strange. Most of the secondary characters felt like tools thrown into the plot instead of organic creations of the author's world. Hence, everyone just sort of stumbles around talking nonsensically for 300+ pages.

Oh, kill me now, THE SEX. In my reading updates, I created a game called Is it sex? because the characters seem unwilling to label actual sex as SEX.

In their efforts to get closer he lifted her higher and she shifted the angle of her hips, and suddenly he slid inside the slick, tight sheath of her body. Surprise stopped them. Panting, Valentine looked down into her eyes, his own startled. She licked her lips and pushed against him, feeling him enter her another inch, filling her in a way that was new and exciting.(Page 176)

That's totally sex! But no. Valentine pulls away, and they seem to decide that the sex they just had isn't actually sex. In fact, Marissa storms off in a huff after Valentine gets her off with his fingers instead of his peen. The same type of encounter may or may not have happened in the next quote. I still can't fucking tell.

He tightened the muscles of his buttocks and thighs, preparing to push himself deep inside her, aching for the sheer bliss of being sheathed within her beautiful body.

Now, he thought. Now!

But even as he began his thrust forward he was slowing, then stopping.
(Page 214)

Once again, the characters SAY that it isn't sex. However, considering that Marissa has the reasoning skills of a rabid raccoon, I don't know if I can trust her. The love scenes are frequent, but I wasn't particularly affected by any of them. Bennett keeps telling me that Valentine and Marissa are so overcome with passion for each other, but at no point did I believe in that passion.

The typos in this paperback are numerous. I don't know what the editors at these publishing houses are doing, but several of them clearly need to get some glasses. Or maybe they could take a class of How Not To Make Readers' Eyes Bleed 101. In addition to the grammatical errors, the plot is incredibly disjointed. Several things happen that make ZERO SENSE in the context of the story. To spread the pain and illustrate my point, I will close with some of my favorite quotes.

After Valentine's friend is shot by the fiendish bad guy:
He handed his jacket to Marissa without a word and pulled his white linen shirt over his head, folding it into a thick pad, and proceeded to press it to his friend's bleeding wound.(Page 72)

Because Valentine is very much in the middle of a public square, WHY does he take off his shirt? Is his jacket really speshul or something? "Oh, my friend's bleeding out now. Let me just take an inordinately long time to strip off layers of my clothing so the heroine can check out my totes sexy chest."

In case you thought I was kidding about Granny's HORRIBLE ADVICE to Marissa:
"I will speak frankly then, Marissa. It is better to spend an afternoon in bed with a man and discover if he's really the one you want to spend your life with, rather than marry him and find yourself a prisoner of unhappiness. Now you are shocked!"(Page 141)

Marissa apparently ranting in her blog:
Should she continue with her chosen role or open her heart to him? But anyway it didn't matter because he was the one doing the talking.(Page 193)


I've been saving this one for DAYS. Read what happens when Marissa pricks her finger on a thorn:
The veins on her wrist were visible through her pale skin, and he could feel the beat of her pulse beneath his fingers. He felt dizzy, as if he'd drunk too much, but it wasn't alcohol making his head spin. It was her, Marissa Rotherhild.

Before he considered consequences-indeed his brain had little to do with it-he lifted her hand to his mouth and ran his tongue delicately across the injury, the taste of her blood clean and salty.
(Page 84)

Run fast, Marissa! Valentine Kent is actually EDWARD CULLEN!

marshall doesn't want to see

"A Most Sinful Proposal" 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