Review: Two Sinful Secrets

Reviewed by Jen

Laurel McKee continues her Scandalous St Claires series with this second installment, featuring Dominic St Claire (brother to Lily, the heroine in book 1) and Sophia (cousin to Aidan, book 1’s hero.) I was really looking forward to this, since their first encounter eclipsed the primary romance in One Naughty Night.  A young, masked Sophia shared a passionate kiss with Dominic at his family’s gaming hall, but ran away before it ever became more.  It was an encounter neither one has ever forgotten.  Even though years have passed, and Sophia has been both married and widowed, the memory of that kiss still scorches her.  And Dominic has never stopped looking for the masked woman who captivated him.

The two come face to face in Paris, where Dominic is on family business.  Sophia is trying to start a new life for herself, after her late husband left her penniless.  They are drawn to each other again instantly.  But Dominic is caught up in the longstanding animosity that his family holds against hers.  At first, he tries to stay away, but goes on to see a relationship with her as a surefire way to get under her family’s skin.

I must say, just like in the last book, the family feud is very weak.  And the fact that Dominic wanted to use Sophia to hurt her family made it difficult for me to really like him.  Yes, he eventually comes around, but it’s almost too little, too late.

In the meantime, there is a man from Sophia’s past who is stalking her.  This is the main external conflict in the book, and it didn’t work for me.  This is a powerful and attractive man who could have anyone. His actions and obsession with Sophia are over the top and simply don’t have enough of a basis to ring true.  It made him seem almost like a caricature of a villain, instead of a believable threat.

There were some parts of the book I really liked, though. Sophia, for instance, was a pretty good heroine.  She was sympathetic with her cold family and loser husband.  You could really see that she has grown a lot, and she does her best to do right by Dominic.  Also… the sex was hot.  Solid tension and great payoff.  Plus, McKee is really great at laying the groundwork for future books. She did it last time, and she does it here again.  I can’t wait for Elizabeth and Brendan’s book.  There is so much angst there!!!

I definitely enjoyed it more than One Naughty Night… and I have high hopes for book 3.

Rating: B-

*ARC Provided by Forever

Click to purchase: Amazon
Two Sinful Secrets
by Laurel McKee
Release Date: November 20, 2012
Publisher: Forever

Review: One Naughty Night

Reviewed by Jen

Lily St Claire knows what life is like on both sides of the tracks.  She is the adopted daughter of a successful theater family. But before they took her under their wing, she was the orphaned daughter of a drug-addicted whore.  She had to scrape and steal to survive and barely escaped from a horrible street criminal who wanted her for his own.

Once the St Claire’s took her in, she learned about love and family.  She lived a safe life, marrying a man for duty and doing the all things she thought she was supposed to.  Now that she is a widow, she is back in the bosom of her family and helping them launch a new gaming hall.  But her carefully ordered life is about to come tumbling down around her.

Aidan actually met Lily once, years ago, and shared a passionate kiss. He reenters her life as he checks out the St Claire family’s new venture.  He’s attracted to her –and intrigued.  She is a woman full of mysteries and contradictions.  The story follows the progression of their relationship and the dangers Lily faces as her past comes back to haunt her.

I can’t say that I loved this one.  Maybe part of it is because it has some light BDSM elements and I’m not a fan of that brand of kink.  But I don’t really think that’s it.  The role that it played in the story just didn’t make sense to me.  Lily abhorred the brothel where she grew up and was disgusted and ashamed by her mother and what she did. Somehow, though, she inherited her mother’s “dark gift” –it’s a part of her. Is this some kind of hereditary gene I don’t know about?  –And it’s not just the bondage and the spanking, but the constant sexing at inappropriate times and places that bothered me. The sex they have in the brothel, in particular, didn’t work for me because it should be last thing Lily wants to do, considering her past.

I guess the sex, for me, was the biggest fail in the book, but it wasn’t my only problem.  I just wasn’t engaged by the main characters.  I don’t feel like I ever really got to know Aiden.  The side story with Harry and the letters was a total red herring.  The feud was ridiculous.  I honestly felt like the best thing the book had going for it was the set-up we got for future installments in the series.  I’m intrigued by a possible story for Lily’s brother and Aiden’s cousin.  Maybe that one will be a better fit.  This one just didn’t ring my bell.

Rating: C-

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
One Naughty Night
by Laurel McKee
Release Date: June 1, 2012
Publisher: Forever (GCP)

Review: Lady of Seduction

Reviewed by Jen

Caroline is a young widow on an adventure. She travels to the isle of Muirin Inish, to find an ancient book and Grant, the man who has it. Before she married, Caroline knew there was something between her and Grant. But when he was badly burned in a fire, he moved away and she went on with her life.  Now, on the island, her feelings come rushing back.  Only, she is no longer an innocent.  She finally understands the passion she is feeling and wants to act on it.

Grant has changed a great deal since his days as a devious and handsome rake. The fire scarred his face and he has hidden himself away.  But despite all of his intentions to stay away from Caroline, she breaks down his resolve almost instantly.  The pull and the passion between these two is fantastic. And the love scenes are very hot and steamy. It’s always a treat to get a heroine who is not a simpering virgin!

Even in his seclusion, Grant is trying to help his fellow Irishman fight for freedom.  He is working as a double agent for the French. But that brings danger into his castle… both for him and for Caroline.  It forces them to go on the run, as they try to courier the vital information Grant has uncovered.  The book did start to lose me a little bit when it really started delving into Irish history. I respect authors who take the time and effort to make sure their novels are historically accurate.  However, I’m not terribly interested in Irish history, nor do I have enough of a working knowledge of it for the names and events to be recognizable for me.  Other than “Napoleon,” everything pretty much drew a blank in my head.  And the last third of the book leaned a bit heavily into this area, so I had a hard time following.

This was the third book in a trilogy, and while it was obvious there was backstory, I didn’t get lost in that regard.  Obviously, Grant and Caroline have a history and I’m a little wistful that I missed out on it. But this still worked as a standalone.  The romance was strong and sexy. The hero and heroine come across as equals –who save each other in different ways and at different points all throughout the book.  Almost 4 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Lady of Seduction
by Laurel McKee
Release Date: June 1, 2011
Publisher: Forever (GCP)