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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Arc Review: Vanessa Kelly - Sex and the Single Earl

Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Zebra, Original Edition (May 4, 2010)
ISBN-10: 1420106554
ISBN-13: 978-1420106558

Genre: Historical
Book: Stand Alone, although loosely related to Mastering the Marquess
Main Characters: Simon St. James & Sophie Stanton
On Sale at: The Book Depository.com


Their marriage was convenient...
Simon St. James, fifth Earl of Trask, knows he could do worse in the marriage of convenience department. Sophie Stanton may be a bit of a social liability, with her ungovernable ways and flighty nature, but Simon has responsibilities as an earl that far outweigh happiness in the household. As for happiness in the bedroom...he has to admit he sees Sophie’s potential in that arena...

Their passion was not!
But Sophie isn’t some bargaining chip to be traded, and she’s not about to let Simon St. James tell her how to live her life—even though she has nurtured a crush on the handsome young earl for as long as she can remember. If his idea of courtship is telling her what to do, then she is not interested, or at least she is trying not to be. But when his scolding words turn to scorching kisses, suddenly Sophie starts paying attention...

Marissa's review:

Simon St. James, the ninth Earl of Trask, is an ambitious man and has a passion for making money. He believes the old ways of the peerage are dying. A wealthy future lies not with owning land but with the wheels and engines of commerce. He has found a way to dominate every aspect of Britain’s Wool Industry but he needs land that is rich in charcoal, so he needs his neighbor’s land. This land is part of Sophie Stanton’s dowry and Simon knows her well and is fond of her. But Sophie is always in trouble because she acts before she thinks, scandal is always nearby when Sophie is around and Simon abhors scandal. Still, he knows Sophie has feelings for him so it should not be so difficult to persuade her to accept his marriage proposal. He will approach this matter like any other business deal. After all, how difficult can it be to keep the little minx in his bed and out of trouble? Evidently very difficult, he soon discovers that nothing is businesslike when it comes to Sophie…

Sophie Stanton has been in love with Simon for most of her life, but somehow he always brings out the worst in her. He treats and lectures her like a child and she hates that. Since her brother got married she feels lonely and restless. She is in her fourth season and fears that she will end up as an old spinster because she can never love anyone else than Simon. Now her precious bracelet is stolen by a young, frightened kid, she is determined to get it back and help this kid but she needs Simon to help her without him lecturing her. Then out of the blue he asks her to marry him and reluctantly she accepts, he talks about a lot of things but not of love and she is convinced that there is another reason for his proposal. Now Sophie wonders if she can truly be happy with the man of her dreams who so obvious does not love her, has a hidden agenda and treats her like a child from time to time…

Last year I read Mastering The Marques for ROOB and I was intrigued by the hero Silverton, but his best friend Simon, the Earl of Trask, intrigued me even more. So I was looking forward to read Simon’s story and when ROOB got the request to review Sex and the Single Earl I eagerly raised my hand. And I must say that the title kicked my imagination into overdrive, but after reading the story I do not understand the title of this story, to me the title and story do not match together very well.

But Vanessa Kelly did pull me into the story immediately with her fluent writing; she has the ability to fling you back in time with accurate details of the regency time period and the environment. The story is very character-driven, it completely revolves around Simon and Sophie. They are very strong and well-rounded characters, during the story they change and develop, at all times you know what makes them tick.

Simon has a brawny physique, fierce black eyes and coal-dark hair, he dreamt of a life full of intellect and studied to teach math, but this all ended when his cousin died and he became the heir to the earldom. He prefers a life of invigorating work to one of impecunious gentility. He always needs a challenge to keep boredom away. He keeps his life tight and organized and always does the right thing, no scandal clings to him.

Sophie is really Simon’s polar opposite. She is petite and wears glasses; she is not considered a great beauty. She can be very bad-tempered and is very compassionate, nobody tells her what to do and she often acts before she thinks. She is very persistent once she has set her mind on something. She always seems to generate gossip and scandal because she ends up in the most remarkable and very unladylike situations.

I must say that I love and hate Simon at the same time, he is this really yummy hero with the right dose of arrogance, he is strong, honorable, tender and masculine but at the same time he always lectures Sophie on her seemliness and does it the wrong way, then he comes across as an regal bully. I had the same feeling with Sophie, she is so passionate about things, and I love that about her, but for an upper class, smart woman she sometimes acts very self-destructive, I cannot reconcile this behavior of her with the fact that in those days a woman’s reputation was her most valued asset. Why risk her reputation so recklessly? I loved their bickering, Vanessa Kelly writes blazing dialogues full of sarcasm, wit and humor but she does it in a way that fits perfectly with the time period, and this way she adds more authenticity to the story.

As most important side-characters we meet Robert and Annabelle, Robert is Sophie’s brother and they used to be as thick as glue. He always supports Sophie no matter what. Sophie’s godmothers also play an important role, they are two old but cunning spinsters with a very sharp tongue. Still at the end I felt like this story was lacking something but I could not put my finger on what was lacking. Then I figured it out, first of all I missed Silverton in this story, as best friend of Simon I would have expected (and hoped) he would at least be mentioned and secondly the whole storyline was too weak and flat for me, it could have used a little more danger or a secondary storyline to spice things up a little further.

Sex and the Single Earl is a solid regency story with strong and well-rounded characters that the true historical romance lover out there will appreciate.

3,5 stars


Leontine said...

Such a bummer that the characters couldn't completely deliver :( but the writing style sounds very good! Hopefully next book by Vanessa Kelly will have it all for you again.

Elizabeth Amber said...

Hi Marissa,
I just heard from Leontine and Natascha and had to come check out the new blog. It looks fantastic!

Enjoyed your review! Thanks. I like that you say VK's writing takes readers back to the time period. A few accurate details can be so interesting. I like learning a little something along the way, and being surprised in a book!



A Buckeye Girl Reads said...

You were much kinder then I was! I just had a hard time with the entire book. Everyone on goodreads is giving it great ratings, but I feel like I read a completely different book then everyone else did.

ErotRomReader (Janna) said...

Great review, Marissa! Sounds like this is not a winner for you with the weak and flat storyline. Simon seems pretty hot though ;)

Cecile said...

Hey Marissa! Great review! Honesty is always the best policy! And I adore you for your reviews!
I have to admit, I saw this one in my inbox (to announce that it was out) and the title snagged me. I was like what.... !!! Yes!!!! So, if the story was lacking the title... what gives. Humm?? And I am sorry if the story fell a little flat for you, but I do like that when she took you back in time, the details were precise! Thanks for a great review!

Marissa said...

@Leontine @Elizabeth Amber I really like VK's writing, and I love her classic heroes, it just that the storyline did not work so well for me...

@A Buckeye Girl Reads Reading is personal hon, if you did not like it that is the way it is, I have read your review and I agree with but I also found things I liked and wanted to share that as well...

@Janna Thanks, and yes Simon is hot in his own way!

@Cecile Hi hon! Thanks for stopping by, yes the title is very appealing perhaps I expected more of the story just because of the title lol...

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1 star: Too many flaws and not worthy of your time.

2 stars: An average story with no surprises.

3 stars: An interesting and entertaining story.

4 stars: A riveting and gripping reading experience.

5 stars: A story that is the ultimate reader's high and very addictive.

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