Becky Ward is running for her life from Prince Mikhail Kurkov, her cruel Russian cousin, who is also her legal guardian. Upon her grandfather's death, Mikhail took control of the modest country estate that has been Becky's home for a decade, allowed his Cossack bodyguards to ravage the village, and threatened to rape Becky to bring her into submission. Becky knew she needed to get away quickly, but before she was able make good her escape, she witnessed Mikhail and his soldiers murdering a mysterious man in cold blood. Now Becky is alone and frightened in the middle of London late at night, looking for the Duke of Westland, the magistrate for her village and the only one who can bring Mikhail to justice. Caught in a downpour with the Cossacks on her tail, Becky takes refuge on the porch of an elegant townhouse, hoping to just rest for a moment. Instead she falls asleep and awakens to the sight of four rowdy rogues standing over her, and they seem to have mistaken her for a prostitute. Becky responds to their lewd advances by knocking two of them senseless and running off into the lonely night.
Alec Knight is a dissolute rake who had been out partying with his chums, and returned to his friend's house to find a pretty young woman sleeping on the doorstep. When the girl awakens and seems afraid, Alec chooses not to participate in the good-natured teasing. Instead he observes from the background feeling an odd kinship with her and a strange sense of protectiveness. When she runs off, Alec's gentlemanly instincts cannot allow her to be alone, not to mention, he is incredibly intrigued by the feisty young lady. He follows her and when he finally catches up to her, Alec pours on every ounce of charm he possesses in an attempt to seduce her. Becky isn't quite sure what to think of this sinfully handsome and alluring man, but she knows that he is kind and gentle and that he makes her laugh. Hunger, exhaustion and fear finally overtake any sense of propriety, leading Becky to accept Alec's offer to spend the night at his apartment. Once there, they experience a romantic and passionate night together that is more than Becky's could have ever dreamed of, but when morning dawns, she knows she cannot risk the life of her golden prince any longer.
Upon awakening to find Becky gone and realizing that he had taken her virginity, Alec's honor drives him to search for her. He finds and bravely rescues her from being kidnapped by the Cossacks, and then gallantly offers marriage, but Becky cannot quite bring herself to fully trust the infamous rake. When he cannot convince Becky to marry him, Alec proposes that he help her with her problems instead. As Alec and Becky work side-by-side to regain her family estate, they begin to fall hopelessly in love with one another, but just as Alec has finally earned Becky's confidence, someone from his past resurfaces to stir up trouble. Even though she knows he is an incorrigible rake-hell, Becky has no idea that Alec spent nearly a year as the hired paramour of a scandalous widow in exchange for her paying off his gambling debts. If she finds out the truth, Becky may never be able to forgive him, and even if she can overlook past, there is still the matter of Mikhail who is out for nothing less than Becky's blood, as she is the only one who bore witness to his murderous deeds.
At this point, I'm not sure that Gaelen Foley is capable of writing a bad book, and if she is, I have yet to read it. In One Night of Sin, Ms. Foley has created yet another winner for me in the Knight Miscellany series. The engaging plot, complex characters, action, mystery, and suspense all came together to make a very enjoyable read that at times, was difficult to put down and always a pleasure to pick up again. As with the previous books in the series, I was generally enthralled by the lush historical details. There were a few places where these descriptions uncharacteristically slowed the story down a bit and started to loose my attention, but there were others that were quite engaging to me. In a scene where the heroine visited another lady at the beach, I found the descriptions of the ladies' bathing machine and swimming practices of the era to be fascinating. Typically historical romances only briefly mention the popular games of the period as something that the characters enjoy as a pastime, but One Night of Sin included a very detailed whist tournament which I found surprisingly fun to read. Since I've played a similar game with my family, the rules and play were pretty easy to follow, and the huge amount of money on the line made it as intense as a high-stakes poker game. I never would have imagined that reading about a card game could be so suspenseful. There were a number of action scenes that I thought were extremely well-rendered, bringing the story to life like a movie in my imagination. The suspense and intrigue were also very well-done with everything coming together at the end in an exciting, edge-of-your-seat, action-packed conclusion.
I had always liked Alec in the previous books of the series, but I don't think I could have imagined the depth that lurked beneath the surface of this dissolute rake-hell. Alec was a complex, multi-layered character, and getting to know him was very much like peeling an onion. Just when I thought I had Alec figured out, the author would remove another layer to reveal something unexpected, and there were even a few teary moments along the way, as he begins to find himself. Given his history with women, it is no wonder Alec is distrustful of them. A lot more of his experiences with the fairer sex are revealed in this book, including a complicated relationship with his mother whose sordid legacy affected him just as much as the rest of his siblings, but in a far different way. I was not at all surprised to discover that Alec has a very sensitive and wounded heart beneath his devil-may-care facade. I thought the revelation of all these things made Alec's romance with Becky all the more special, because she was the one to finally put his fears and misgivings to rest by proving to him that all women are not alike. Alec had so many wonderful qualities. Being a consummate gambler who reads faces for a living, he is very perceptive of Becky's feelings. I love how he can make Becky laugh, and his protectiveness of her from the moment he first saw her was very sweet. What I never would have imagined though was how valiant, gallant and chivalrous Alec was, willingly risking his life for Becky on more than one occasion and making a genuine marriage offer when he realized he'd taken her virginity, even though it scared him to death. In my opinion, Alec redeemed himself a hundred times over for all the bad things he had done in the past, and what I loved most of all about it, was that he never once broke character as the rakish charmer I'd already come to love.
Becky was the perfect foil for Alec, and probably the only woman on earth who could bring this rogue to heel. She was a very dichotomous character, showing the spunk and bravery of the best spitfire heroines, while also being as gentle as any sweet heroine. She didn't have a single TSTL moment that I can think of. In fact, Becky was a girl who actually listened to her hero when danger was afoot. She could certainly take care of herself though. I loved the way she stood up to her bullying brute of a cousin in the flashbacks even though it led to her needing to run for her life, and when Becky neatly laid-out two of Alec's rake friends who were making lewd overtures toward her, I couldn't help but smile. Becky was also a very smart girl who didn't wait around, hoping that someone would come save her. She intelligently took matters into own hands on more than one occasion. Becky also proved herself to be a very sensitive and intuitive heroine, recognizing the hurt behind Alec's attitude, and showing him the kindness and gentleness that he so desperately needed. Likewise, Becky managed to handle the shocking details of Alec's scandalous life with a surprising amount of grace and dignity, never once getting upset or bent out of shape over his past exploits. Instead she understood exactly what he needed and gave that to him freely. All in all, she was a courageous but tender heroine who would have been impossible for me not to love.
Alec and Becky were great as individual characters but I also loved their chemistry and the way they interacted with one another. They could move with fluidity from being stubborn and angry, to having serious conversations, to laughing and being playful with one another. I may have had to suspend disbelief a little to buy into the idea that they could share this kind of intimacy in their relationship after only knowing each other for a short time, but somehow it worked perfectly. I also love the way they were very open and giving toward each other in everything they did. Alec may have held back his emotions for a while, because they had been long buried, but he still generously gives to Becky in other ways, while Becky manages to wriggle her way into his heart when he least expects it. Normally, I don't care for couples in romances who argue, but for once, I actually enjoyed Alec and Becky's stubborn bickering. I think that is because I didn't find it to be annoying or overdone like I've seen in other books, and it flowed naturally within the context of the story and the scenes. My favorite part of Alec and Becky's interactions was simply the swoon-worthy romance. I think Alec made one of the most heart-felt, romantic marriage proposals ever and their intimate scenes together were positively delicious with lots of variety. One Night of Sin is definitely the most sensuous book in the Knight Miscellany series thus far with twice as many love scenes, but I guess Alec did have a reputation to uphold.;-)
One Night of Sin was a near-perfect read for me. There were only a couple of minor things that made me consider knocking off a fraction of a point. One is a scene where Becky tells Alec about the events that brought her to him, which alternates between the past and the present. Perhaps it would have been better if the author had presented Becky's story as one block of narrative, because the brief snippets back and forth made it a little jarring and choppy, in my opinion. The other thing is that I initially had mixed feelings about the way Alec and Becky met and how they ended up in bed together that first night. On the one hand Becky had some very valid reasons for going home with a stranger, but on the other hand it seemed a little abrupt and odd that she would indulge herself that way considering her circumstances. In any case, as the story progressed, my misgivings began to fade as I got to know the characters in more depth and understand their motivations more fully. Any notions I might have had about reducing my star rating were overridden by the fabulous characterizations, tight, engaging plot and overall romance. In my opinion, any author who can make me brush off my concerns by giving me such an entertaining read is a very talented one. One Night of Sin is book #6 in the Knight Miscellany series. It is preceded by The Duke, Lord of Fire, Lord of Ice, Lady of Desire, and Devil Takes a Bride, and is followed by His Wicked Kiss. Unlike with the past books, Robert, Lucien, and Damien were the only Knight siblings who make an appearance in One Night of Sin, and it is very brief. Apparently the last Knight brother, Jack, is fated to be a complete mystery until I read his book, but Alec's story has definitely found a spot on my keeper shelf right next to the rest of the series.
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