Thursday, February 25, 2010
YOTH: All Night With a Rogue by Alexandra Hawkins (Lords of Vice, book 1)
Seduce Lady Juliana Ivers and then cast her aside: Those are his sister’s instructions. Alexius Braverton, Marquess of Sinclair--known as Sin to the ton--is happy enough to oblige, especially when he catches a glimpse of his target. Juliana is completely unlike the empty-headed chits who barely hold his attention for a week. A true gentleman would leave her to find a worthy suitor. But then, a Lord of Vice would never claim to be a gentleman.
WOULD IT END IN FOREVER?
Juliana is expected to marry well to improve her family’s finances, even if she secretly longs to make a living through her musical compositions. A dalliance can only complicate matters, though not even practical Juliana can help succumbing to the aptly named Sin. But one unforgettable night will draw her into a scandalous affairand a seduction begun as sport will soon become deliciously, dangerously real
This book addresses the reformed rake theme. I do love that theme, because a guy with a bit of the wicked in him? Yum. The Lords of Vice take the rake/rogue thing to the extreme, engaging in all sorts of illicit behavior. We are actually shown this on a few occasions, not just told about it. In fact, at one point, Alexius tries to convince himself that he’s over Juliana by getting amazingly drunk and attempting to bed a prostitute. Thankfully, he passed out before he could do the deed. But this happens before he admits what she truly means to him, and he never actually cheated, even though it was his intent. I thought the action fit his character completely.
Alexius begins the pursuit of Juliana before he realizes that she’s the girl that he agreed to ruin for his sister. The scene where Alexius and Juliana meet is terrific. She is caught up a tree and he’s down below having a quickie at a ball. I liked that she wasn’t in the tree for the usual “hoydenish” behavior that is usually the reason for this, but that she was escaping a too ardent suitor and then got stuck, literally. Alexius decides to pursue her without knowing who she was. When he realizes she’s the girl he’s supposed to ruin, he figures he got lucky.
He quickly seduces Juliana into an affair, and she enjoys it as much as he. When Juliana is basically sold into an affair by her mother to satisfy her gambling debts, Alexius goes wild. He only knows that she is with another man who is known for treating women poorly. They have a huge fight, and he leaves after punching his rival in the face. Juliana neglects to tell him the reason that she is with Gomfrey, since secrecy of the reason for the affair was a condition of the payout.
This was where the book lost me a bit. Almost the entire second half of the book involves Juliana being basically traded from one man to another, with very little if no interaction between her and Alexius. He interacts with her family, with his friends, and with her captors, but almost nothing at all between the two of them. During this time, he realizes how much she means to him, that he loves her.
It was interesting that although she basically sold her daughter into prostitution to settle a gambling debt, Juliana’s mother is not a villainous figure at all. Her daughters still love her, and she comes off as a loving, albeit selfish mother. I was torn about this. On one hand, I appreciated that she wasn’t one dimensional. On the other hand, none of the daughters seemed to be angry with their mother for putting them in this predicament.
Another character that gave me pause was Sin’s sister, Belinda. She originally wanted Alexius to ruin Juliana because she viewed her as a rival for a man’s attention. She had no conscience, in fact seemed to relish the idea of her being ruined and publicly humiliated. Yet, I couldn’t really determine if it was simply a case of spite, or if she truly had feelings for Kyd. And Kyd? I never really figured out what he saw in Belinda. He did at one point comment that he knew her faults, but loved her in spite of them. Still… he was such a nice guy. What was he doing with her?
I thought it was a singularly unflattering picture painted of the behavior of the aristocracy, but each character was portrayed with depth, with perhaps the exception of Gomfrey. Even Juliana’s cousin, the second man that she was “sold off” to, had depth. We learn of his obsession with Juliana from the time she was 13, and how he’s now proving himself to be superior to her and worthy because of it, after her father refused to give permission for him to court her years before. So most of the characters, while unsavory and selfish to the bone, had redeeming qualities of some sort, or at least I was able to understand their motivations.
One other thing that bothered me slightly, was the nicknames that the Lords of Vice have. Sin, Reign, Frost, Saint… all plays upon their names, but it still seemed a little hokey to me.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I would have liked more focus on the couple in the second half of the book, and less “rescuing”, but I enjoyed Hawkins’ voice and the overall feeling the book gave me. The next book, Til Dawn With the Devil, about Reign, Sin’s friend, is due out in August.