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Wednesday, January 07, 2009:
"To Sin With a Stranger" by Kathryn Caskie - review (2008)

Meet the “Seven Deadly Sins”

The seven Sinclair brothers and sisters live for scandal and delight in disgrace . . . until their father decrees that they must reform. Propriety has never come easily, but now they have no choice. Marry in haste…Or regret in poverty! The Sinclairs of Scotland are known throughout society as The Seven Deadly Sins. Cast out by their father and denied their inheritance unless they mend their wild ways, they travel to London to seek respectability. No member of the clan is more scandalous than Sterling Sinclair, the Marquess of Blackburn. The ladies of the ton are powerless to withstand his rakish charms…until Miss Isobel Carington comes along.

Ten thousand pounds if she marries Sinclair!

Isobel is horrified to learn that’s the amount wagered at White’s Club— and now all of London is eagerly betting on her future! She’s already publicly spurned the Marquess, a man she hardly knows, but she’s sure he is up to something as he launches a bold campaign of seduction anyway. But soon she is surprised to learn there is much more to this man than reckless adventure and bad behavior… and, against her will, she begins to relish the thrill of sinning with this stranger…

This book had all the elements to be a really delectable read: a charming Scottish rogue of a hero, a smart, prim do-gooder of a heroine tempted to sin, and an incredible wager to keep them at odds until they ultimately fall in love. And up until about chapter 6, I thought that was what I was getting. Sadly, I was very, very wrong.

Sterling Sinclair and his 6 siblings have been tossed out on their ears by their father, who is determined that his rowdy and scandalous children will not receive a penny beyond the basics unless they straighten up and become respectable. Leaving Scotland, they head for London, where Sterling, the oldest sibling, enters a fight to win money to support him and his family.

While he's in the middle of the fight, a lovely yet reckless female with a soft heart and golden hair interrupts the proceedings, almost getting herself knocked out. Miss Isobel Carington is there to support her cause for the widows and children of fallen soldiers, and figures if the men can spend their money on a fight, then surely they have enough coin to help the needy. Unfortunately her pleas fall on deaf ears, as the men are there to watch a fight, not to support a charitable cause, no matter how worthy. To lighten the mood and send the cheeky chit on her way, Sinclair makes fun of her, and she leaves, disgusted with the brutality and violence of the event.

Later, the two encounter each other again at a party, and Sinclair, confident of his charm and good looks, flirts shamelessly, which only serves to heighten Miss Carington's ire. She ends up slapping him, twice, which irritates her father, and intrigues society. Before she knows it, the ton is wagering on whether or not her and Sinclair will be married or not before the end of the Season. However did she get into this mess?

At this point, I'm imagining lots of heated verbal exchanges, heaps of sexual tension, and the joy of watching two proud people fall hopelessly in love, whether they want to or not. What I got instead was the air being let out of the balloon. All of a sudden Isobel became, in my eyes, some calf-eyed simpleton mooning over Sterling, and Sterling has lost that roguish charm. I don't know what happened, but all of a sudden all the spark, and banter and fun just evaporated for me, and I kept wondering when did the story make a wrong turn.
Part of it too was that at one point Isobel was adamant that she hated Sterling, and the next thing you know she's letting him undress her with nary a smidgen of resistance. I'm scratching my head going WTF? This feeling overshadowed the enjoyment of some really good scenes, like the one between Isobel and her father towards the end of the book, and how Sterling overcomes his sin of greed.

I know there are other readers out there who really loved this book. God bless 'em; I am just not one of them, and I feel kinda bad about that. I was expecting something totally different than what I got, and because of that, I just didn't enjoy this book. I kept reading though, not expecting it to get better, just feeling compelled to still give it a try. Maybe one day I'll go back and re-read it, see if I feel any differently about the story. It wasn't a bad story, just not the one I was looking forward to.

Rating: ***1/2 out of *****

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  1. Hm. I have this one. But since I'm still of historicals, it may be a while before I read it. You've been a reviewing maniac lately, Stace. This is another really well written one!

  2. I've seen a lot of folks disappointed by this one. Which is a shame. I really like this author, and have been looking forward to this series. This is one of the books sitting in my cart at Amazon that I keep putting in the "Save for Later" section. Maybe it's fate? Although I know I'll pick it up at some point.

  3. What a thorough review, good job sweetie. You know, I was nodding along with your review, agreeing but at the end of the book, with all that was wrong with the book, I still enjoyed it. I still liked Stirling and Isobel, so yeah there you go. =)

  4. But you know what? I'm going to hate reading Ivy's book. I don't like her.

  5. Rowena - AGREED about Ivy! I HATED HATED HATED the part in "To Sin with a Stranger" when I learned Ivy had been stealing from Sterling for weeks, even though he risked pretty severe physical damage for that money.

    Eeeeh, I didn't like this book either, and I didn't go into this novel with high expectations to begin with - I thought the series sounded too gimmicky.

    And Isobel's father was horrid, IMHO. Finding out his "reasons" for his horridness simply made him more awful.

  6. *sigh* dontcha just hate it when what looks like a book with all the right elements just doesnt...idk...gell? blah. I felt kind of the same way about some of my recent reads. I guess there is always another book around the corner tho.

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