Monday, June 20

Duchess of Sin by Laurel McKee

Book 2 in the Daughters of Erin Series

We’re going to start off, first, with what I was… miffed by. I didn’t like some of the obvious ‘detail’ mistakes – for instance during a balcony scene when McKee writes that the coat slipped from Anna’s shoulders and only a few pages later describes her taking it off her shoulders and giving it back to our hero, Conlan McTeer (the Duke of Adair). I was also annoyed by the fact that there were occasional time line issues, where the author doesn’t quite have her story straight. But those issues were minor and will really only bother you if you’re a super-close, nit-picky reader like me.

I loved our heroine, Anna Blacknall. She was adorable, strong, and restless in an energetic, enthusiastic way. I’m hoping to see a lot more of her in the third book, Lady of Seduction (which I will be reviewing shortly. I really like this series) because I don’t feel she’s quite done yet. She’s sweet and sassy and can stick up for herself (and her man) like nobody’s business. She’s a wonderful heroine because the reader can identify with her yearning and searching for more as well as her complexity and many different faces. She's also tender and understanding, without losing her backbone - which is exactly what Conlan needs. Again, McKee has developed her heroine excellently.

Our hero, Conlan McTeer was deep, rich, dark, and soulful. I liked him most because he was Irish. Points. I wish I could’ve known a bit more about him – his past and even his present was left sorely lacking in detail. But he was passionate, fun, sensitive, and consistent. He took care of Anna, and cared for her deeply, just as he cares for the people he’s duty-bound to protect. He was compelling.

Unfortnately, there were so many loose ends and things left just floating in the air, that the book was actually a little confusing. Conversations took place that led nowhere, encounters occurred that never seemed to meet resolution. It was strange because there were all these mental notes I’d made about characters and plot devices… that never came to mean anything and were simply left hanging. Anna’s role at Adair Court is also left hanging, and I thought there would be some meaningful ending where she finally discovered her usefulness – a theme throughout the book was her desire to be useful – but that never came to be. I’m wondering if perhaps everything will be resolved in the next book, but in the meantime I’m frustrated that I have to wonder at all. Even when my books are part of a series, I like each to have its own separate, fulfilling conclusion. This was a tad abrupt for my tastes.

The romantic plot was good between Conlan and Anna for the first two thirds of the book, after which it grows a little stale. The secondary romantic plot between Katherine (Anna's mom) and Monsieur Courtois was so underdeveloped I would’ve preferred it not be wasting word count space. The larger plot was decent and suspenseful – and I really enjoyed how the actual events that were occurring in Ireland are woven in to McKee’s story. The thrill of reading a story that is a retelling of what someone imagines it was like to live through a portion of history that can be marked by specific events and dates is really cool – to me at least.

Overall, unfortunately, I felt the ending lacking spice and conclusion – despite the wonderful characters. The book had great build-up – but fizzled right before the explosion. Was it a good book? Yes. Do I want to read the next one? Yes. Do I wish there had been less unanswered questions? Definitely. Could it have been better? A lot. This book was delightful… but rather ordinary.

Favorite quotes:

“As do I,” Grant said grudgingly. “I should not have allowed you to be exposed to a private family quarrel, Lady Anna.”
“Oh, I am sure her ladyship has been exposed to far worse,” Adair said.

“My heavens, Anna,” she heard Jane say from across the table. “I do hope that chicken fricassee has not mortally offended you.”

 “Sexy”ness rating: Explosive

Overall Rating: C+ to B-

Bottom Line: Great characters, a good love story, excitingish plot, but the ending fizzles sadly. Delightful… but nothing extraordinary.

Pages: 351
Published: December 1, 2010
Genre: Historical (Ireland)

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