Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Living Up To The Hype

I tend to dislike reviews where the reader spends a lot of time comparing the current read to some past book.  Even though every author has their "tells" - each book, for me, should stand on its own.  It should live or die on its own merits.  But dang, that's really hard at times - especially when you're talking about series, or connected books.  Earlier this year I read and really enjoyed the first book in Anna Randol's Sinners Trio trilogy, Sins Of A Virgin.  It was one of my favorite kind of books - one where just about everything works for me despite a back cover blurb that made my eyes roll back in my head and uninspired cover art.  So needless to say, I was really anticipating reading the second book in the series, Sins of a Ruthless Rogue.  Unfortunately, while there is nothing terribly terrible about it, I found it to be a flat read.

Clayton Campbell was a clerk in a paper mill when he fell hard and fast for the boss's daughter.  Olivia Swift, being an only child, the apple of her Daddy's eye, is your typical pampered new money heiress.  Which is to say she's beautiful, charming, but more than a touch selfish and self-absorbed.  The mill has a contract with the Bank of England to print money, and when Clayton discovers that more bills were printed than were authorized in the contract, he goes to Olivia.  Her father oversees everything, so.....yeah.  Naturally, Olivia, being a bubble-headed ninny teenage twit runs to Daddy.  Clayton finds himself arrested, convicted, and with a date for the gallows, when England comes calling.  Become a spy for us and we'll pardon you.  Which he does.  Now discharged from service, he's ready to settle an old score - to show up on Olivia's doorstep and destroy the mill.

Olivia's father told her Clayton was dead, and she mourned him.  She realized, too late, exactly the type of man her father was.  Through circumstance, she's now running the mill and trying to atone for past mistakes.  To this end, she has thrown herself into charity work and is working to revive the mill, which has fallen on hard times.  If it dies, the town dies.  Clayton showing up on her doorstep, very much alive, is a major shock.  But his arrival also signals the arrival of Russian villains - villains who think Olivia is one of Clayton's spy compatriots.  As she is whisked off to Russia, Clayton follows.  Can they thwart an international conspiracy to overthrow a government, compromise on the issue of the mill, and fall back in love, despite the fact that neither of them are the people they used to be?

The best way for me to describe this romance is thin.  As the reader, I never felt like the author dug deep enough with these characters.  They felt very surface to me.  They're marginally interesting people, on the surface, but their angst is never fully delved into.  There are zero scenes between Olivia and her father after she discovers his betrayal.  Clayton's relationship baggage surrounding his own parents is also skimmed over - including the fact that his mother was a faithless whore and his father's circumstances took a nose dive after Clayton's arrest.  These are just the immediate examples that come to mind, but there are others, and it really gives this story a superficial feel.  This is totally one of those books where I find everything readable, but that I find instantly forgettable (in fact, writing this review is kind of a challenge since I'm working on it two days after finishing the book!).

However, it is readable and it did get smoother the further along in the story I got.  Things start to pick up a bit once the couple lands in Russia, and the author includes some interesting secondary characters that I hope may show up in future books down the road.  This being said, all of this introduced intrigue does make for an abrupt ending.  There's a lot of past history between Olivia and Clayton and I think I just needed more.  Yes they're different people now than when they were younger, but they're at cross-purposes, especially about the mill, for so much of the story, that to have the various changes-of-heart happen as they do?  It just didn't work for me.

So yeah, it's not terrible - but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't more than a little disappointed.  Chalk this one up to the author giving readers such a memorable heroine in the first book - that to see things fall into predictable patterns in this one was kind of a downer. 

Final Grade = C+


nath said...

Awww, that's too bad this one didn't work as well for you Wendy. I hear you on the stuff being superficial. Why give characters certain pasts if you're not going to dig deeper?

Still, this author is on my list of authors to try... eventually LOL.

Wendy said...

Nath: I really, really enjoyed the first book in this trilogy, but yeah - this one just fell flat for me. There's interesting aspects to it, but it didn't quite gel and come together for me. Still, I do plan on reading the final book in the trilogy :)