Kaitlin O’Riley was a surprise find for me when I read her first book, Secrets of a Duchess. Her second book, One Sinful Night, was an emotional read and made O’Riley a must read for me. O’Riley’s third book starts a new series of five sisters in London. Collette Hamilton is the oldest of the five Hamilton sisters, who are running their father’s bookstore after he has passed on.
Collette meets Lucien Sinclair, Earl of Waverly, when he comes into the bookstore to get some books to read to his own invalid father. Since it had been some time since he’d been to Hamilton’s, he’s surprised to see a woman working there, and equally as surprised to be attracted to her and want to kiss her. After he places an order, Collette thinks she’ll never see him again, but in fact she meets him at a ball later. Her uncle is trying to marry off Collette and her sister Juliette as quickly as possible so he can get some money from them as well as sell the bookstore.
Lucien keeps coming back to the bookstore to see Collette and meets the rest of her family, and they begin to dance around each other in the way that people do when they don’t want to admit an attraction. Along the way Lucien’s friend Jeffery gets involved with the Hamilton family and Lucien, as well as Collette, have to decide if they can live the life they thought they wanted, or live a life with each other and be happy.
One of the biggest problems in this book was as Lucien and Collette take one step forward in their relationship, inevitably they take two steps back. Collette is desperate to make the bookstore a success and support her family, and Lucien thinks that women shouldn’t work or run a business as that’s the man’s domain. When their relationship goes all the way, Lucien is cold to Collette and she lets him treat her like she’d been used. It was frustrating.
Another issue was Lucien’s inability to recognize his own feelings. Not just realizing he’d fallen in love with Collette, but what feelings he was having at any time with his father, his mother who has returned after abandoning him years ago, and how he truly felt about Collette trying to save her family on her own without any help. Only his time with his friend Jeffery seems to have any sort of emotional sincerity. When other characters tell him he’s in love with Collette instead of realizing this himself, does he work to make sure she doesn’t get away.
Collette herself, though knowing herself a bit better than Lucien, just tried too hard to do it all herself. In a time when women weren’t really allowed to own and run a business, she thinks she can change minds in a very short amount of time. Her business plan is sound for her family’s bookstore, but it smack too much of trying to almost Barnes and Noble-ize the business. Most likely sound business practice, but also ahead of it’s time. Not to mention thinking she can get away with not getting married when she’s got a greedy uncle pushing her in that direction.
Collette’s sister Juliette and Lucien’s friend Jeffery become fast friends and they seemed to have a genuine rapport, they seemed too alike and I hope they don’t get their story in the next book as it didn’t seem to be the way those two characters should go. The rest of the secondaries, the sisters and mother of the Hamilton family and the uncle, and Lucien’s parents are all rather stereotypical. Each of the sisters has one unique characteristic, and their mother is of the fading belle of the ball variety who is depressed because she didn’t get the life she wished. At least the sisters can handle the machinations of the uncle, even if the mother can’t. Lucien’s parents, while having touching reunion, at least show why Lucien can’t actualize what feelings he’s having.
It did have potential to be an interesting story, but it’s just a muddle and though Juliette and Jeffery had some bright spots for the book, they shouldn’t have to be the ones that save it, it should be Collette and Lucien. I’ll keep reading O’Riley’s books, but this one was a letdown and I hope not a predictor of the rest of the series.
After her father’s death, Colette Hamilton is left with four sisters, an invalid mother and a failing bookshop. The only way she can save the family business is with her unconventional ideas…or let her uncle marry her off. As for the handsome stranger is the bookshop? He’s Lucien Sinclair, son of an earl, and a notorious rogue uninterested in marriage.
Unknown to Colette, Lucien has begun an urgent search for a bride, so that his ailing father might see him married before he dies. He knows what he wants– a plain biddable woman without the curse of beauty to endanger his heart. Yet no matter how he tries, Lucien finds himself unable to stay away from Colette. And as sinful pleasure lures them ever closer to the edge of ruin, the only question that matter is whether they can survive the fall…
Read an excerpt.