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1159186,220 (3.67)None
In Victorian England vice of every kind can be purchased, and Matthew, the Earl of Wallingford, makes certain he avails himself of every possible pleasure. While these numerous dalliances fulfill Matthew's every physical need, they secretly leave him numb and emotionally void. Until one night when he finds himself beaten, eyes bandaged and in the care of a nurse with the voice of an angel?and a gentle touch that soothes the darkness in him and makes him yearn for more. Yet Jane Rankin is a lowly nurse, considered shy and plain by most. There is no place for her amongst the lords and ladies of the aristocracy?despite Matthew's growing craving for the fire that burns behind her earnest facade. And then there is Matthew's secret. A secret so humiliating and scandalous it could destroy everyone he loves. A sin, he fears, not even the love of a good woman can take away?… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
This was excellent. SO good I was able to overcome one of my most hated storylines (hero having sex with someone not the heroine usually sinks the story for me). Some great angst, to be sure. Once it was HEA-bound, I felt like it dragged a bit, but the development of the relationship between Matthew and Jane was a great read. I'll definitely read more by this author. ( )
  PNRList | Aug 15, 2018 |
Charlotte Featherstone is masterful at writing emotional, deeply sensual, and incredibly touching love stories. She's also extremely talented with creating emotionally broken and deeply flawed characters who despite their failings, still manage to capture my heart and make me want to root for them to get their HEA. Addicted, the first book of the series, completely engrossed me, so that I had a hard time putting it down and never wanted it to end. Perhaps because of his cynicism, Matthew didn't quite appeal to me in the same way Lindsey did at the time I was reading Addicted. Nevertheless, it didn't keep me from being excited about reading his book, and I can't say that I was disappointed. Sinful was every bit as engaging as Addicted, and once again, I found myself eager to get back to it every time I had to put it down and wishing it would never end.

As I mentioned, in the previous book, Matthew seemed pretty hard and cold, yet I couldn't help but sense something in him – something that was buried deep but once uncovered and brought into the light of day would free him from his jaded view of people and of life in general. I couldn't have been more thrilled to discover I was correct. At the time, I had discerned that Matthew seemed a bit jealous of the deep love that Lindsay and Anais share. Of course, he won't admit it even when Lindsey calls him on the mat, but Lindsay saw right through him in this regard just like I did. It's readily apparent early in the story that there is something in Matthew's past that torments him and colors his opinion of women and romantic relationships in a bad light. Matthew doesn't consider himself to be a smart man. Academics never came easy for him, and although he's his father's heir to the dukedom, he has no head for running an estate and no real interest in the title. Instead, he's a brilliant artist who harbors a lot of the stereotypical angst and temperamental nature that comes with such a gift. This was only made worse by his father's coldness toward him and lack of understanding of his talents, but most of all by a secret trauma from the past that tortures his psyche, haunts his nightmares, and has warped the way he thinks about sex. Perhaps I was so caught up in the emotion of the story that I didn't even realize just how incredibly bent this experience was until near the end, when he finally reveals his most scandalous secret, which was a twist I didn't see coming. Just like Jane, nothing he did in this story or had done in the past made me think less of him, but instead, it broke my heart to know all the pain he'd endured throughout the years until she came into his life, bringing light and hope.

After Matthew left the hospital where he met Jane, he couldn't stop thinking about her even though he'd never actually seen her. He can't help admitting to himself that he desires more from her than he's ever wanted from any woman before. However, that doesn't stop him from doing something later that made me want to slap him silly. It hurts Jane and causes her to hurt him right back, which sends Matthew off the rails in a flurry of anger and self-loathing. Still, they found their way back to each other and he does eventually explain how he was feeling in that moment and apologizes for his actions which was good enough for me. There are just so many thing about Matthew that made him capture my heart: The way he looks at the world through an artist's eyes, his incredibly touching love for his youngest sister when he doesn't really care about anyone else, his impassioned declarations of love once he gets to that place, and of course his tortured past that made me want to wrap him up in my arms and make all the pain go away.

Jane is a kind, caring, intelligent woman, but she knows that she's no man's idea of a catch. I have to commend the author for writing a plain heroine who actually is. Jane has a fairly voluptuous figure, fiery red hair, and she wears glasses. Her mother was a prostitute, and she's the product of her mother's relationship with an aristocrat who left them destitute. Beyond that, Jane has a pretty distressing past herself. After her mother's death, she was sold to a pervert who beat her badly, leaving a scar on her lip, and she barely managed to escape his clutches with her virginity intact. She was extremely lucky in that the woman who now employs her found her on the street, took her in, and has been like a mother to her ever since. Knowing that the lady she works for is aging and not wanting to be left in the same position as her mother if she should die, Jane is determined to be an independent woman. She took up a second job, nursing patients in a hospital in the poor part of town, and is exceptional at her work. Even though nursing was a relatively new and not-well-respected vocation at the time, she puts forth her best effort to put a positive face on her profession. I liked that Jane is a shy woman. In spite of being twenty-seven, she's only been kissed once, but she knows something of relations between a man and a woman and wonders what it might be like to be close to a man. Because of her more worldly knowledge, she isn't afraid of Matthew's overt sexuality. In fact, he intrigues her and makes her feel more like a woman than she's ever felt before. More than anything she desires to be desired, and after navigating a few bumps in the road, Matthew is able to give her that and so much more. However, because of the uncertainties surrounding the way she was brought up and watching what her mother went through when her protector tossed her aside, Jane also craves respectability and stability. When things come to a head and there seems to be no way they can be together except with her as Matthew's mistress, she cannot bring herself to do it. I have to admit that at this moment, I don't think I could have made the same choice she did. I couldn't have borne leaving Matthew, especially when he made such a fervent plea, but I understood and respected her reasons for doing it anyway. It takes her a while to come to terms with some things, but eventually she realizes that Matthew means more to her than anything else in the world.

As with Addicted, I'm reluctant to call Sinful an erotic romance as it's been labeled. Yes, the love scenes are lushly sensual and descriptive, but they're also taut with emotion. While the author uses more explicit language, it's not done in a gratuitous way, and also aside from one scene of light bondage, there's nothing that I found to be particularly out of the ordinary. Matthew and Jane's every interaction is intensely beautiful and a true expression of their growing love for one another. In the beginning, since Matthew can't see and can only hear Jane's voice, which he calls the voice of an angel, what they share almost seems like a magical, mystical attraction. What in other books might not work for me, here I really loved, because I could truly feel it and believe in it. Like Matthew, Jane is blind in her own way, because she doesn't exactly know who he is either, as he never mentions being the Earl of Wallingford. To her, he's simply her Matthew. When each of them fully discovers the other's identity, they're both rather appalled, he because she's just a plain spinster and she because of his scandalous reputation. Despite their best efforts to ignore it though, the attraction is still there, simmering below the surface. Once they open their eyes to really see each other as they are, warts and all, their relationship experiences a beautiful metamorphosis. I love how Matthew finally finds the beauty beneath Jane's plainness, and Jane discovers what a wonderful man Matthew actually is. Also the way Jane helps Matthew find his way back to wholeness, to a place where he can enjoy true intimacy with another human being – not just sex – and find beauty in the act rather than horror and disgust was absolutely amazing. Both Matthew and Jane feel like they've found the lost half of their soul in each other. Neither one of them really knows how to trust, but together, they learn.

While I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed Sinful, I feel compelled to let others know that the ending is probably not what most readers will be expecting. It is an HEA, but it's a non-traditional one. Also the road to that HEA leads to another year of pain and heartache, particularly for Matthew. After everything he'd already been through, I really hated that Matthew had to endure more, but I also understood that Jane needed time to grow and change and she's nearly as miserable as he is during their separation. I would say that the author chose a more realistic path for these two lost souls. There probably wouldn't have been any easy or magical answers to the dilemma they find themselves faced with, and for that, I respect the author's choice to write it the way she did. If I had finished Sinful, thinking that this was truly the end of the road for Matthew and Jane, I probably would have knocked off a half star, because it was so difficult to read. However, I already knew ahead of time that the author had written an epilogue, as well as a Valentine's themed short story (both of which are free reads) for this couple, and my GoodReads friends who read them, particularly the epilogue, said that it really stamps “The End” to their HEA and makes it much more satisfying. Since the author's website has disappeared, I had a hard time getting my hands on copies of these stories, but thanks to my hubby's ingenuity, I finally have them in my hot little hands and can't wait to read them.

Overall, Sinful was yet another amazing book from Charlotte Featherstone's creative mind. I'm very sad to see that this author seems to have dropped off the radar for the past three years. I do hope that she returns at some point, because she has a real talent for writing romance that is truly romantic. In the meantime, there are still more of her books and novellas waiting for me to try, which is something I'll be doing eagerly. But as for Sinful, it was an utterly beautiful love story of two wounded souls finding love, healing, and comfort in each other's arms.

Note: This book is labeled as erotic romance, and while there are several love scenes, all of which are explicit, they're about so much than just body parts and titillation. Also, nothing that I would consider to be particularly kinky or offensive occurs within them except for one scene involving a bit of light bondage. However, there are flashback sequences to Matthew's abuse that may disturb more sensitive readers. ( )
  mom2lnb | May 8, 2015 |
I'll be dating myself here but back when I was younger I played records. Round vinyl things. If they got a deep scratch in them the needle would stick and you'd end up hearing the same thing over and over again. Stuck in a loop.

That's what happened to the plot in this book. Disappointing. ( )
  rainrunner | Oct 3, 2013 |
*** 3½ stars ***

An original between many historical romances that were cast on a same mold. Maybe a little bit crude and rough on the edges and probably everybody will not like the ending but you gotta admit to the author that she tried to do something new.
And here you can really feel when the characters heal and get-over their past mistakes/hurt. ( )
  bookwormdreams | Apr 10, 2013 |
I don't know what to say about this book. I loved it, I hated it, I wanted to throw it across the room. I felt like I was on a carnival ride while reading it with it's ups and downs, but it kept me reading to see what would happen next even when I thought I had had enough I came right back for more...It was a lot darker than I was expecting it to be and not the happy, sappy love story I was looking for when I started this book but it was good none the less. Honestly I was torn between a 3 and 4 star rating for this and I may change it after reading the epilouge on her web site but for now I'll just say 4 stars...It was beautifuly written. Note: Epilouge wraps it up nicely. A must read that really should have been part of the book. ( )
  historicalbooklover | Jan 2, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. -- Anais Nin
Dedication
To my awesome editor, Lara Hyde, because you were the first to see the beauty in him, and I thank you for that! By loving him as he is, you made it so easy for me to write his story. Thank you for letting me write him how he is; darkly beautiful. I'm so glad we got to work together on this book!

To Barbara from the Happily Ever After blog, and Ashley (aka VampFanGirl) from the Lovin' Me Some Romance blog. Thank you for all your support and enthusiasm for my writing, and all things Wallingford. I am so happy to have found you. You bring so much fun to what is sometimes a solitary career. And to all the blog hussies who carefully gathered all those "Sinful breadcrumbs" I spread on my blog. I hope his story satisfies and gets the inner hussy purring.

And last, but never least, to all the readers who e-mailed me, requesting Wallingford's book, I hope his story doesn't disappoint.
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With a jaded outlook and a black heart, Matthew, Earl of Wallingford, knew exactly what human nature consisted of.
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In Victorian England vice of every kind can be purchased, and Matthew, the Earl of Wallingford, makes certain he avails himself of every possible pleasure. While these numerous dalliances fulfill Matthew's every physical need, they secretly leave him numb and emotionally void. Until one night when he finds himself beaten, eyes bandaged and in the care of a nurse with the voice of an angel?and a gentle touch that soothes the darkness in him and makes him yearn for more. Yet Jane Rankin is a lowly nurse, considered shy and plain by most. There is no place for her amongst the lords and ladies of the aristocracy?despite Matthew's growing craving for the fire that burns behind her earnest facade. And then there is Matthew's secret. A secret so humiliating and scandalous it could destroy everyone he loves. A sin, he fears, not even the love of a good woman can take away?

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