Series: Ladies Books of Pleasures #1
Published by Samhain Publishing on July 15, 2014
Genres: Historical Romance
The widowed Lady Isabel Avenbury has one remaining younger sister to shepherd into an advantageous marriage, and then she will be free. Free to take a lover to fill her lonely nights—the only option left for a woman on the delicate edge of a certain age.
Except when she chaperones her sister to a country house party, she is taken aback by her sudden, undeniable attraction to the host. And deliciously scandalized when she finds a copy of the notorious, much-gossiped-about Ladies Book of Pleasures in his library.
When Seth Rowland, Marquis Lyndham, notices his book is missing, his interest is piqued as to which of the potential young brides at his party has absconded with it—and he’s shocked to discover it’s Isabel. Though older than the women he’d planned to court, the powerful beauty exudes a sensuality he cannot ignore.
The book inspires them to begin a desperate, passionate affair. But their time together is running out and they must choose. Follow society’s rules, or take a chance at love.
Married young to a man almost three times her age and widowed only a few years later, Lady Isabel Avenbury is used to taking care of others. After the death of her parents, she took in her two younger sisters and raised them almost as if they were her own children. But while she may possess good mothering skills, Isabel is barren and cannot have children of her own. And although Isabel is only 28, she is considered too old by Society’s standards to marry any of the Season’s eligible bachelors. But Isabel isn’t looking to marry. Instead, she plans to take a lover just as soon as she can marry off her last single sister.
Seth Rowland, Marquis of Lyndham, needs to marry as quickly as possible and start producing heirs to please his mother and ensure the title remains in the immediate family. Seth had no interest in marriage until his older brother tragically died, but now his mother is throwing a house party filled with the Season’s most eligible females and Seth is expected to marry one of them. He cringes at the thought of tying his life to any one of the flighty, unintelligent cardboard cutouts currently parading around his house. That is, until he see Isabel step out of the carriage with her sister.
Seth knows he can’t touch her and Isabel must focus on finding her sister a husband, but when Seth catches her stealing the Season’s most talked-about book — The Ladies Book of Pleasures — from his library, their attraction ignites a love affair that refuses to bend to Society’s rules.
I really like Isabel’s character. As women, I think it’s very easy for us to get caught up in taking care of those around us to the detriment of ourselves. Isabel had to marry a man she didn’t love in order to provide for her two younger siblings. Like many women, she sacrifices some of the things she wants from life to ensure that those she loves don’t have to go without. And although Isabel embraces her role with upbeat optimism that everything will work out, she is also realistic about how Society views her inability to have children and the limitations placed on her as a result. It’s a universal theme that fits seamlessly into this story.
It is also the driving catalyst of conflict between Isabel and Seth. Theirs is a beautiful love story because readers see from the start the attraction they feel towards each other, know that Seth has felt that attraction since before Isabel was married but was unable to pursue her since was already betrothed, and they now must contend with Seth’s pressing need for children and Isabel’s inability to give them to him. The romance is sensual, heartwarming, and made exciting by Isabel and Seth’s attempts to conceal their affair from the multitude of guests in and around the house. (Everything is more fun when you think you’re being sneaky about it!) And yet, Seth and Isabel struggle with their feelings for one another believing that they must conform to Society’s expectations regarding marriage and children. Watching them try to figure out the difference between “what is right” and “what is right for them” is such a sweet, uplifting journey. You really want to keep reading well past “The End.”
Overall, A Matter of Sin is a delightful series starter and I can’t wait to read Grace and Jacinda’s stories too. I highly recommend reading this book — Passionate, tender, and comforting, you just know that Seth and Isabel are going to craft a beautiful HEA for themselves.