REVIEW: Sinless by Lynne Connolly
In Georgian England, love can mean ruin—even for a Shaw . . .
Lord Darius Shaw has never been in love before. But when he renews his acquaintance with lawyer Andrew Graham in a raid on a molly house, where men meet men for forbidden pleasure, they discover mutual feelings as deep as they are dangerous. For while society will turn a blind eye to an aristocrat’s transgressions, Andrew has far more at stake. The son of city merchants, Andrew has a disastrous marriage in his past, and a young daughter to support. He could lose his livelihood, his reputation and even his life—and drag Darius down with him.
Darius and Andrew’s only choice is to deny the true nature of their relationship. But when an enemy Italian spy threatens their secret—and their futures—the two set out to catch him. And in the process they are forced to face their desires—and make a life-changing decision.
Dear Ms. Connolly,
I couldn’t resist this latest addition to your established Shaws and Emperors of London series. A few years ago, I had waited for the resolution to a m/m romance in your “Richard and Rose” series and, honestly, been less than thrilled. I wanted to see if time and increased acceptance of m/m romances might allow you to flesh one out. The answer to that is yes but fans of the “R&R” books will still spot many similarities.
I know I’m starting fairly late in this world but this book let me jump in without feeling lost. Andrew and Darius have a bit of a past as Andrew acted legally for Darius’s twin brother in a recent court case. Since the case and its outcome aren’t really germane to this story, I was fine with having the bare outlines explained. The main issue is that the two men met and an interest was sparked. It is one that they must be careful about as buggery is against the law and punishable in Georgian England. Those who are caught and don’t have powerful families or influence to shield them could end up swinging from a hangman’s noose.
So of course the worst place for Andrew and Darius to meet again is a molly house – the Georgian equivalent of a gay bar. Sent there to contact a suspected spy, Andrew is thwarted in getting his hands on a list of names when Darius engages him in a kiss. Things go from bad to worse when a caricature of the two appears soon after in a London print shop. For Darius – a member of a powerful aristocratic family – this can be sloughed off and covered up. For Andrew – a commoner son of London merchants who is dependent on a spotless reputation to bring in business as a lawyer – it could be disastrous.
The investigation into who is behind the list is frustrating both men. However the scurrilous print actually gives Andrew a clue though the suspect, due to his powerful backers, might still elude them.
Once gain I feel immersed in Georgian England as I read one of your books. The story is sprinkled with little details and nuggets of fascinating information. This isn’t mere wallpaper history nor do I feel they are added merely to show off your research. And yet at the same time I almost felt as if I were rereading parts of the “Richard and Rose” books: there are twin aristocrats, one is gay, and they own a business. Darius mentions how wild his twin brother had been – partly as a cover for Darius’s own sexual interests. Yep, I’d read it before.
This is a relatively short book so the endless rewind of all the reasons Andrew and Darius can’t be together took up a lot of space I wish had been devoted to the spy plot. That felt a bit haphazard and parts puzzled me. It was almost as if certain connecting scenes and backstory were missing. Why did this character do this and how did that one know where to meet the spy? I finished the book still wondering. A few editing errors also pulled me up short. There are name changes mid-scene in a few places: Andrew for Darius and the two footmen change names during a scene in Dover. Nothing serious but I had to back-read and determine I hadn’t missed a character “movement/blocking” change.
Unfortunately the romance didn’t work much better for me. I did feel the men’s attraction to each other but suddenly after only a day or two, Darius is in lurve? Given the amount of time the two had actually spent in each other’s company and getting to know each other, I could buy interest, I could go with HFN but not this overpowering love that will lead these two to risking the carefully explained and illustrated dangers their relationship might attract. I did like that Darius manages to imagine a future for Andrew which would allow Andrew to continue in his legal career while allowing the two of them to explore a relationship but there are too many holes here for my taste. C+