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Monday, November 19, 2012

An Enjoyable and Compelling Early Victorian Romance

Scandalous St. Claires #2
Laurel McKee
Grand Central Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-455-50548-7
November 2012
Historical Romance: 1840s England and Paris

To escape the stern environment of her aristocratic home, a rebellious Lady Sophia Huntington sneaks out to engage her well-developed skills in high stakes gambling. At one such encounter, her partner is none other than the famous actor and owner of the Devil's Fancy gaming establishment, Dominic St. Claire. Though masked, Sophia knows who her opponent is and she is excited and attracted to the golden haired Adonis despite their families' centuries-long feud. The attraction is intense, and after a few moments of sensual bliss, Sophia can not risk being unmasked and escapes...several years pass and Sophia is abroad after being disowned by her family for eloping with a drunkard army captain who died a few months into their marriage. She must earn her living, and a friend offers her a position at her Paris gaming establishment. There she meets up again with Dominic St. Claire and the attraction between them sizzles again and Dominic knows instinctively that this is dark-haired beauty who so excited him and captured his imagination three years previously. Dominic knows that a relationship between a St. Claire and Huntington is impossible, but still he is drawn to Sophia and can not stay away. The St. Claires's world is the theater, and Sophia's family, the one she wants to return to, is a highly respectable, stern aristocratic family who already disowned one son for marrying a St. Claire. Will their love overcome the infamous St. Claire-Huntington feud--is there any truth in the fiercely held belief that the Huntingtons done the St. Claires wrong centuries ago, and if it does, will they stay alive long enough to thwart the villain who seeks to destroy them?

The Huntington-St. Claire feud continues in TWO SINFUL SECRETS, Laurel McKee’s latest entry in the entertaining Scandalous St. Claires series. McKee masterfully creates the headstrong, less-than-na├»ve heroine, convincingly and sensually writes Sophia’s and Dominic’s love story, and beautifully weaves the story within a story device through the seventeenth century diary of Mary St. Claire Huntington to show the misunderstood origins of the St. Claire-Huntington feud. Especially enjoyable are the Parisian setting and the theater and gaming ambiance. TWO SINFUL SECRETS shows the few options of  young women who rebelled from the strictures of the increasingly  repressed society of early Victorian England and what they must do to escape its physical and psychological confines. 

Reviewed by Debora Hosey

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