Publisher: Spice; Original edition (May 1, 2010)
Blurb: In Victoria England vice of every kind can be purchased, and Matthew, the Earl of Wallingford, makes certain he avails himself of every possible pleasure. Bored and jaded, he is as well-known for his coldness as for his licentious affairs with beautiful women.
While these numerous dalliances fulfill Matthew's every physical need, they secretly leave him numb and emotionally void. Until one night when he finds himself beaten, eyes bandaged and in the care of a nurse with the voice of an angel - and a gentle touch that soothes the darkness in him and makes him yearn for more.
Yet Jane Rankin is a lowly nurse, considered shy and plain by most. There is no place for her amongst the lords and ladies of the aristocracy - despite Matthew's growing craving for the fire that burns behind her earnest facade. And then there is Matthew's secret. A secret so humiliating and scandalous is could destroy everyone he loves. A sin, he fears, not even the love of a good woman can take away...
Matthew, a wealthy man with the title of "Earl" feels unworthy of love. He seeks excitement from his boring life by partying and jumping from bed to bed. He wants to be a painter, a career his father condemns so if he is to inherit, he must abide by his father's rules. What's this rakish playboy to do?
Jane, an orphan, abides by another set of rules: those imposed upon the poor and women in society. Though she is a modern woman, a nurse with brains and drive, she is stuck in a man's world, but there is so much more she wants to do in her chosen field of medicine. She becomes a Florence Nightingale of sorts to Matthew, the Earl of Wallingford, when he winds up in the hospital after taking a beating.
Featherstone interjects this unlikely couple with feeling, verve and passion, creating extremely likable characters. Matthew is your typical dark, brooding male but the author ratchets up this troublesome, lost soulful artist. When this cold rake awakens, badly bruised with his eyes bandaged, the touch of his nurse awakens something somewhere deep in his soul--something he thought was lost. Without actually seeing Jane, he is attracted to her low, soothing voice and reacts to her tender nurturing. Jane, once on her way to spinsterhood, feels her womanhood awaken as her body responds to his voice, his manner, his (wounded) body.
Matthew did start out like a spoiled brat who needed to mature. As he recovers it was interesting to watch him heal in so many ways. Her change from meek young woman to a fully fledged, sexually confidant woman, was convincing. The heartbreak she experiences when he sees her for the first time by judging her in his arrogant way was poignant. She suddenly doesn't like the man she views fully healed. He can't believe this plain woman is the same Jane he created in his mind. But both soon learn another chance meeting may set them upon the best road for both. Though their pathways are filled with sorrow, pain, and plenty of missed turns, I found myself rooting for both characters.
Sinful was a touching read, a realistically detailed portrait of two souls lost in themselves and in their lives who accidentally find what it is they truly need. Matthew must look beyond veneers to discover what is below the surface and Jane has to let go of her inhibitions and learn to freely love. I did find the ending suffered a bit by feeling "tacked on."After such an intense build-up of character, plot, and tension, I expected a more satisfying conclusion than what I read. Still, if romance with a sprinkling of spicy lovemaking is your genre, Sinful is your summer read.
Rating: I really liked it.
Favorite excerpt: ""Are you looking for someone?"
He turned and glared at her, and Jane actually shrunk back, shocked by the change in his expression.
"Yes, but not the likes of you," he snapped.
Rendered mute, Jane stood there for long seconds, trying to breathe. With a scathing glance he took her in, from the tops of her green bonnet to the tips of her scuffed half boots. His assessment, she knew, was not a positive one.
His rebuke stung. And for some ungodly reason, her hand automatically flew to her hair. She saw how he was staring at it, the bright red hue beneath her bonnet. She could not bear to see the way he was looking at her--right through her--without seeing her. He did not see a woman. He did not see Jane, the woman he had been so passionate with two days before. He saw . . . Jane swallowed hard and looked away, hating the weakness of her spirit. She was more than this, a wilting flower. She was stronger than this. But damn it, this hurt.
It hurt because he was the man responsible for making her burn. For making her feel like a woman. It hurt because it had been a trick. An illusion. And it hurt most of all because he did not see her, the woman she was behind the unfashionable spectacles and garish hair.
"Is there something you need?" he asked in a most uncivilized tone.
"No," she whispered, glancing away so he wouldn't see the tears in her eyes."
Cover comment: It's an OK cover, nothing really grabs me, makes me want to pull it off a shelf.
Book source: Purchased.