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REVIEW: Three Nights of Sin by Anne Mallory

Dear Ms. Mallory:

Three Nights of SinI’ve pledged to myself to try and be more diverse in my reading because I do have the luxury of choosing among a number of books without financial risk. This is my first book from you and while I had several issues, I like the voice and would try you again.

Marietta Winters sought out Gabriel Noble upon recommendation from a family friend. Marietta’s younger brother, Kenny, has been arrested and accused of being the Middlesex Murderer. Marietta is desperate to free her innocent brother and Noble is her last chance.

Noble investigates matters for the princely sum of 10,000 pounds or three favors. Marietta rightly assumes that those favors must be costly. Marietta is so poor that she and her older brother have been reduced to eating bread and water and thus three favors is her only source of payment. Noble makes it seem like the three favors will be sexual in nature and Marietta bristles at this, but will do whatever she can to help her brother.

I think that the intent of this book was to echo the gothics of the 1970s where the reader isn’t sure if the male protagonist is the hero or the villian. Much of the story is told from Marietta’s point of view to cultivate that air of mystery around Noble.

One of the problems, though, is that not enough time is spent villianizing Noble. Every word and deed seems fairly honorable and not, in any way, suggestive that Noble himself is involved in the murders. Further, because Noble is such a mystery, we never really understand the attraction despite some internal monologuing by Noble later in the book that Marietta just fits him.

Noble goes around and solves mysteries upon the exchange of information from favors called in for past tasks performed. The rate at which Noble speeds through favors for Marietta made me quite concerned about his overall success. I kept wondering how he would have any favors left for future actions.

The individual scenes were quite nice. Noble and Marietta skulking around a saloon with Marietta playing tavern whore. Noble and Marietta skulking around a masquerade with Marietta playing masquerade whore. Noble and Marietta . . . well, you get the picture. I jest a little, but the love scenes were quite good and I grew to like Marietta despite her prickliness. (or maybe because of it). However, the story as a cohesive unit lacked punch.

Noble’s secret is revealed about half way in and kind of strips away the mystery. Without giving too much away, the second act (starting after chapter 11 or so) evinced totally different reactions that act 1 which should have been laying the foundation for what was to come. It felt a bit like two different stories. The first story was the investigation but there was no hints that Marietta should view Noble as the murderer. After all, they were attached at the hip (literally at times) so when would Noble have had time to murder anyone?

It never gelled together. C+

Best regards,

Jane

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells or ebook format on April 28, 2008.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

6 Comments

  1. Radish
    Apr 25, 2008 @ 17:04:34

    I confess, this bit bothers me:

    Noble investigates matters for the princely sum of 10,000 pounds or three favors. Marietta rightly assumes that those favors must be costly. Marietta is so poor that she and her older brother have been reduced to eating bread and water and thus three favors is her only source of payment.

    It kinda reeks of prostitution, suggesting this is the only thing the female character can do in the interest of keeping body and soul together. And it makes me ask yet again why male characters so rarely — if ever — are shown being reduced to a similar, sexual degradation.

    And that idea [in my mind] is reinforced by this:

    Noble and Marietta skulking around a saloon with Marietta playing tavern whore. Noble and Marietta skulking around a masquerade with Marietta playing masquerade whore.

    That a woman must sell her body, or has no choice but to compromise her own dignity, became a tiresome theme for me a long time ago. I have a hard time respecting or caring about this kind of character, or bristling martyrs in general.

    Maybe that’s just me. But unless convinced otherwise, I think I’ll give this one a pass.

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  2. Jane
    Apr 25, 2008 @ 17:13:54

    I’ll say that Marietta doesn’t have to sell her body, but I think that Noble allows her to infer that. The method of payment is most often time information, access or something else. That’s how Noble solves his mysteries.

    I will also say that there is inferences of male degradation in this story too, but with all that, you are right that there is a tone here that suggests personal degradation for the woman.

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  3. Susan/DC
    Apr 25, 2008 @ 20:10:10

    Noble sounds a bit like Restell in Jo Goodman’s If His Kiss is Wicked. IIRC, he also solved mysteries for either money or favors, and his favors usually entailed someone’s expertise, time, or access to others who could assist Restell in his current investigation.

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  4. Jane
    Apr 25, 2008 @ 20:30:00

    Susan/DC – that’s what I thought to. I never know whether it is appropriate to bring that up in reviews. I didn’t think that Mallory copied Goodman, but there were similarities in the superficial qualities of the heroes’ personal interests. Better done in Goodman, imo.

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  5. Kat
    May 22, 2008 @ 23:00:43

    I just finished this book this morning and loved it!! I actually appreciated POV being mostly Marietta’s in th beginning. The mysteriousness it gave to Gabriel had me wanting to know more. I enjoyed realizing who he was in a slower way rather than the typical jerk, who the heroine changes. We do not know if Gabriel is really a good guy, but turns out he is. I do agree that the love scenes were really good. I found myself rereading them over again. I have read a few of Anne Mallory’s books, but this one was by far the best.

    Also, Gabriel’s favors are not sexual and he does not use them for anything other than to help those he is assisting.

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  6. magpie
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 11:37:39

    I think Amanda Quick in Lie By Moonlight has also used investigating mysteries in return for favors of a non-specified nature. The person who asks for the investigation fears what the favor is, but it is usually information, access or something related to that person’s skills. I think I’ve seen this in other books as well – does Lord Peter in Sayers’ books request favors or perhaps he just goes to previous clients for favors when he needs them. I haven’t read either these books, but I’ve just added them to my TBR list.

    ReplyReply

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