The Pleasure of Passion (Sinful Suitors #4)- Sabrina Jeffries
Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster
Release Date: June 20, 2017
Rating (out of 5):
Synopsis: When Niall Lindsey, the Earl of Margrave, is forced to flee after killing a man in a duel, he expects his secret love, Brilliana Trevor, to go with him, or at the very least wait for him. To his shock, she does neither and sends him off with no promise for the future. Seven years and one pardon later, Niall returns to England disillusioned and cynical. And being blackmailed by the government into working with his former love to help catch a counterfeiter connected to her father doesn’t improve his mood any. But as his role as Brilliana’s fake fiancé brings his long-buried feelings to the surface once again, he wonders who is more dangerous—the counterfeiter or the woman rapidly stealing his heart.
Forced to marry another man after Niall was exiled, the now widowed Brilliana wants nothing to do with the reckless rogue who she believes abandoned her to a dreary, loveless life. So having to rely on him to save her father is the last thing she wants, much less trusts him with....But as their scheme strips away the lies and secrets of their shared past, can she let go of the old hurt and put her pride aside? Or will the pleasures of their renewed passion finally enable them both to rediscover love?
Back from years of exile Niall Lindsey, the Earl of Margrave, is still trying to find his footing in England when he is recruited by the government to track down a counterfeiter. The problem is, the man responsible may be the father of the woman Niall once hoped to marry. Seven years ago Brilliana couldn't leave her sick mother to run away with Niall and is now a widow who is disillusioned with men and marriage and intends to protect her heart. Although she hates her father for his gambling, abandoning her and her mother, and then forcing her to marry someone to keep him out of debtor's prison, Bree doesn't want to see her father hanged as a counterfeiter. She agrees to help Niall get close to her father and discover the truth. The best way to do that? Pretend they are engaged. Can they set aside old hurts and pride to discover the counterfeit culprit, and possibly discover love again?
While all the "Sinful Suitors" series can be read as standalone books, having read The Study of Seduction and The Danger of Desire beforehand will help give additional background to The Pleasures of Passion. Many of the characters are recurring and the story of Niall, Brilliana, the duel that separated them, and Bree's previous marriage get started in these books. In Pleasure of Passion Niall and Bree quickly end up in an engagement of convenience, although they can't stand each other. Lies, betrayals, and secrets from seven years ago have colored how they see each other and buried the love they once had. Being forced to work together means spending time together, and eventually they hash out the misunderstandings of the past, while trying to get to know each other as the people they are now. Even before really knowing Bree as she is today, Niall decides he wants to marry her, not just pretend an engagement. But Bree is used to being deceived and abandoned by everyone and is convinced she can't trust, or love, again.
The mystery of the counterfeiter is more a catalyst for getting Niall and Bree to work together than a major plot point, although it plays a great part at the end of wrapping everything up in a funny yet serious scene that is one of the best in the book. Bree's Aunt Agatha especially gets to shine and steals the whole scene.
I'm not usually a huge fan of 'second chance' romances and Passion has many of the traits I find frustrating in them: the two main characters are so sure of their version of events, and so unwilling to talk about things that hurt feelings, misunderstandings and pride get in the way for most of the book. Both Niall and Bree say some pretty terrible things to each other and I wanted to smack both of them more than once and force them to sit down and talk. Both (especially Niall in my opinion) forget how young they were the first time around, and make no allowances for youth and inexperience. Niall quickly decides that even though he could never love her again, he wants to prove there is still passion between them. I never quite figured out why, except maybe he was trying to prove something to himself. The sparks between them seem to fluctuate as much as their trust in each other- when they are 'on' they are a great couple, otherwise not so much. Bree was, for me, the more sympathetic and relatable character- impacted by more bad luck than one person should have to deal with in life and cautious as a result.
The Pleasure of Passion was a bit more uneven than most of Sabrina Jeffries' books. The main characters didn't consistently grab me as they usually do, always seeming a bit distant and I had a tougher time than usual caring about them. But it does wrap up nicely the ongoing saga of Niall's duel and all its effects, as well as show us more about Baron Fulkham (who is the next book's hero). Perhaps not a book to recommend to those new to Jeffries' writing, but a good one for long time series fans to follow.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review