Captive of Sin

    I finished ghostwriting last weekend, and I wrote the author's note for Naked Edge, which meant that for the first time in ages I had time to... READ!

    In the last poll I conducted, it's clear that I'm not the only one who chooses reading as my main way of relaxing. Some 70 percent of you do the same. Nothing else even came close. Television follows behind at a measly 13 percent, with goofing off on the Internet garnering 10 percent of the vote.

    Reading wins in a landslide!

    I love to read. I love to snuggle up with a book and disappear from this world for hours on end so that I forget what's going on in life entirely. It's something I used to do all the time before I started writing books. Now, I rarely have the time.

    At the top of my pile was Captive of Sin, by the lovely and gracious Anna Campbell. An Australian author who's making a big impact, she's also an incredibly nice person.

    I chose her book because it had just arrived at my door and because I'd heard so much buzz on it. The thing that really clinched it for me were the Amazon comments, which revealed a key plot element that I knew I would love: the hero finds the heroine, battered, weak and exhausted, and in desperate need of protection.

    Here's the blurb from the back:

    He pledged his honor to keep her safe . . .

    Returning home to Cornwall after an unspeakable tragedy, Sir Gideon Trevithick comes upon a defiant beauty in danger and vows to protect her whatever the cost. He's dismayed to discover that she's none other than Lady Charis Weston, England's wealthiest heiress—and that the only way to save her from the violent stepbrothers determined to steal her fortune is to wed her himself! Now Gideon must hide the dark secrets of his life from the bride he desires more with every heartbeat.

    She promised to show him how to love — and desire — again . . .

    Charis has heard all about Gideon, the dangerously handsome hero with the mysterious past. She's grateful for his help but utterly unwilling to endure a marriage of convenience — especially to a man whose touch leaves her breathless. Desperate to drive him mad with passion, she would do anything to make Gideon lose control — and fall captive to irresistible, undeniable sin.

    I read the book in two evenings after work, staying awake far too late and relishing every second. Anna Campbell is a new author for me. I'd previously read Tempt the Devil, which I very much enjoyed, and for many of the same reasons I enjoyed Captive of Sin.

    As many of you know, I'm not a huge fan of Regency romances. Too often they feel like cookie-cutter, wallpaper romances. Lords, ladies, parties, gowns, the ton... That isn't to be critical of anyone who loves to read Regency romances. To each her own, I say. We all have our own preferences. But I've never gotten in to that period. I guess I don't much care what society thinks today, so reading stories about people trying to fit in to society 200 years ago just isn't interesting to me. Plus, I like stories that have a bit of grit and some real emotional depth.

    This story has all of that.

    Gideon, the hero, has suffered unspeakable torment and is returning home, when he encounters Lady Charis. Battered but still defiant, Charis doesn't trust Gideon at first; still, she really has no choice but to accept his help. The two of them begin a journey toward mutual trust that also results in healing for Gideon that he never thought he'd have. For him, his decision to risk himself to protect Charis, based in part on his belief that his life is actually more or less over, results in nothing less than a miracle of healing for him.

    There are so many moments in the story where Anna demonstrates her superior storytelling ability, moments where some authors would have used a misunderstanding to create overly dramatic conflict between Gideon and Charis, i.e, the Big Misunderstanding. Anna doesn't do that, instead relying on her characters' intelligence and compassion to work through those minor glitches with no problem so that they stay focused on the real conflict facing them.

    The sex is realistic and also very hot. And there's an element of romance to the story that never ebbs. For me, the story maintained its magic from the beginning through the end. I fell in love with Gideon. What a wonderful hero! And truly a hero, in every sense of the word, both before and after he meets Charis.

    It's kind of funny because being an author means I have a different relationship with books — and other authors — than the average reader. It's easier for me to get in touch with authors and talk with them behind the scenes. Anna and I sort of discovered each other's books (thanks to a variety of blogs out there) over this past year. Though we have very different writing styles, there's a common thread in our writing, which we have noticed, that involves a bit of grit, some real pain and suffering in our characters' lives, and a willingness to go into the darkness of that suffering.

    One author coined the term "Regency noir" for Anna, and I think that's very apt. It's that difference in tone — and her willingness to explore her characters' dark places in a deeper way — that endears her writing to me. Plus, being an Aussie, she manages the British-ness of the period quite deftly. It feels very authentic to me.

    In short, I loved it! I have two more books of hers in my TBR pile — it's actually a bookshelf, not a pile — and I look forward to reading them.

    Soon I hope to have Anna as a guest on my blog. I'll whip out my reporter’s notebook and interview her and share the interview here.

    In the meantime, I've got big plans to get organized, clean my house, and write a proposal for Natalie's story, the next I-Team book. Then I'll move on to writing my next novel, which I hope (for once) to finish quickly.

    We're supposed to get snow here, which makes me happy.

    With the holidays coming up, I suppose everyone is very busy. I hope you get time to relax. When you do, what books will you be reaching for next?

    Next up: I'll talk about Kathleen Givens' Rivals for the Crown. Then we'll interview some I-Team heroes, including Gabe, the hero from Naked Edge.

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