Her Dearest Sin
by Gayle Wilson, historical (2002)
Harlequin, $4.99, ISBN 0-373-29207-4


I guess I will never understand "moral" Regency heroines. Gayle Wilson's latest, Her Dearest Sin completely befuddles me, because nothing the heroine does makes sense to me. Because of that, the plot synopsis will probably be incoherent as a result. I'll see what I can do.

Doña Maria del Pilar Mendoza y Aranjúez first meet Sebastian "Sin" Sinclair when she tries to steal his clothes while he is bathing in the river. This is in Spain, 1813, where the English lads, as we all know, are fighting with everybody else. She is running away from her guardian Julián Delgado. Why can't she just steal those clothes instead of standing there to declare her intentions is beyond me. Maybe it's more "honest" that way, I don't know. Needless to say, Delgado catches up, and Doodah here frantically agrees to go back if Delgado lets Sebastian go, et cetera. Slash - Sin's face is scarred by Delgado as a bye-bye gift.

Cut to one year later, when Wellington marches to Madrid with Sin and his best buddy in tow. Sin encounters Doodah once more when Doodah, typical of all romance heroines, can't stand the party and flees right into the gardens into Sin's arms. Kiss, kiss, muah, muah, ohmigod Delgado is coming, run, Sin, run!

Delgado sets a trap for Sin, but Sin's best buddy bites the bait instead. Sin now wants revenge. He kidnaps Doodah. No, he offers his help to Doodah to get away from Delgado, now her hubby-to-be. But she refuses - she cannot! She must protect Sin, her maid, her dog, all the old ladies in the world, the Yetis, the blue whale, and oh yes, the sad, sad seals!

I don't understand women like Doodah. Seriously, this woman knows that the baddie is evil incarnate, yet she expects the baddie to keep his word. She's the only one shocked when he doesn't. She willingly suffers like a selfless and brainless martyr, and panics when she is offered a way out of her misery. She cannot! She must not! She can only run, run, run, shrieking "But you promised!" as the bad guy shoves it to her. My only regret, frankly, is that she doesn't burn to crisp like a martyr at the stake, a fate I bet she is more than happy to experience. Maybe she has her reasons to push away the hero who has proven more than capable to help her, probably some twisted notion of independence, I guess, but seriously? A woman who expects everyone to play by the rigid rules she sets herself up to? Repeat after me: D-U-M-B-A-S-S.

Can't lie, can't play cheat, can't practise subterfuge to escape the bad hand life dealt her, and even better, refusing to even try. I love this woman. Make her promise never to leave the house, set the house on fire, and put a fire extinguisher outside the door, but Doodah will probably never try to reach for it as she burns to charcoal. After all, she promised to stay in the house, you know.

I guess, in Regency Romance Land, such behavior that makes Patience Griselda and the stupid heroine of The Wild Swans come off like Broom Hilda's bad-tempered sister is something to be applauded for. Or why else do I keep encountering such women in those books? But if you ask me, these women, Doodah included, are the biggest idiots of the land. They are just begging for mass extinction, and shame on Sin for rescuing Doodah her despite her best intentions to crash and burn, martyr of melodrama style. At least Barbecued Doodah will be a pleasant salve to my elevated blood pressure after reading about Doodah's excruciatingly unnecessary ordeals. If only she has the brain to unbend a little and fight for her life, I tell you - if only she isn't so criminally, idiotically "virtuous".

Rating: 67


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