Sinfully Ever After: Book Club Belles Society #2 by Jayne Fresina

Book Review:

The second in the Book Club Belles Society, the set-up is simple. The five young ladies that are met in the story are reading the newly released Pride and Prejudice, and setting out to find their own Darcy.  In this book, we are following Rebecca’s story, and I will say from the get-go that she was not a favorite of mine. In fact, she reminds me very much of Emma, another Austen character that is difficult to like. 

Rebecca is spoilt and demanding, very forthright and judgmental, and often far too modern in her speech and approach for the purported time of the story.  She has an overinflated sense of self that is far less a defense mechanism than one would hope: she truly believes that her standards and desires for the ‘right man’ are both appropriate and achievable.

Luke has been gone for several years: after crossing swords some five years earlier after Rebecca’s brother behaved poorly, he had left house and home to make his own way in the world.  After years of silence and his own brother thinking him dead, Luke has returned with an injury from the war, a faithful if slightly disreputable dog, and a solid grounding in the life of a rake.  Rebecca is both intrigued and disparaging of Luke, she refuses to ‘settle’ for a rake, and she expects never to allow him to cross her mind.

Of course Luke wants to be the man for her: frankly I never quite felt the connection between them. Rebecca never really softened or compromised from her rather rigid stance and belief that she deserved the ‘top shelf’, and Luke struggled to become what she wanted and needed.  This alone was incredibly strange, as he was a man of near forty, in an age where men held all the cards: least of all for a chit of just 22, with an overinflated sense of self-import.

Interactions were clever and well-written, but this story ‘feels’ very 21st century even though it is meant to be Regency-era, with language, behavior and customs that fit that day.  For me, I found those incongruities preyed on the story premise: it felt lighthearted and modern, with Regency references and customs pulling me away from the story rather than fitting in while feeling appropriate and needed.

I have a very conflicted sense of this story: not as fun or well-presented as the first, while hoping that the feel of the era will return in the next story.  I am sure that part of the problem comes from the heroine who had, for me, no redeeming features and engendered no empathy. A mixed story that is set in the Regency era, but seems to forget the place and time to deliver a modern feeling romance with some lovely moments and dialogue.

Sinfully Ever After: Book Club Belles Society #2 by Jayne Fresina

Title: Sinfully Ever After
Author: Jayne Fresina
Genre: Historical Romance
Published by: Sourcebooks
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 384
Rated: three-stars
Heat: One FlameOne Flame

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Teaching scandalous young men a lesson? This is not your typical book club!

To Rebecca Sherringham, all men are open books—read quickly and forgotten. Perhaps she's just too practical for love. The last thing she needs is another bore around—especially one that's supposed to be dead.

Captain Lucius "Luke" Wainwright turns up a decade after disappearing without a trace. He's on a mission to claim his birthright, and he's not going away again until he gets it. But Becky and the ladies of the village Book Club Belles Society won't let this rogue get away with his sins. He'll soon find that certain young ladies are accustomed to dealing with villains.

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

He was going to kiss her.

Her skin shivered with anticipation until she could barely sit still. There was something proprietary about his gaze, the way it claimed her as surely as an arm around the waist.

After the meal, she left the table and Lucky Luke stayed to talk with her father. Becky found the dog Ness, now with a full belly, snoring happily by the fire, his paws twitching. The scene was peaceful for once with no Mrs. Jarvis angrily crashing her pots and pans about. Snow piled up against the window, and a stronger wind had sprung up to send the flakes spinning and spattering against the glass panes, but it was warm and cozy in that kitchen, and her smile, reflected in the window, was sunny. It was pleasant to hear her father’s distant laughter and the low murmur of male voices in the house.

She took three leaves from the pot of mint on the windowsill. If he was going to kiss her, she ought to have sweeter breath. Several other leaves had also been very recently ripped from the stems, she noted. Had he also taken some to be prepared? Smiling, she chewed the mint and resumed wiping down the table.

When Luke came in, she was still cleaning up the kitchen.

“Your father has fallen asleep, Miss Sherringham. I hope I didn’t bore him too badly.”

“Oh, it’s quite normal for my father to drift off midsentence. I’ll see him up to bed shortly.”

Becky had extinguished the lamps in the kitchen, and now light came only from the fire and the soft glow of the hall sconces through the open door behind him. He cast a great, bulky shadow across the flagged floor, a black, three-legged spider. His eyes were very dark and wary again as he paused there, just inside the kitchen doorway, leaning on his cane.

“Thank you for preparing the dinner,” she said. “It would have been cold game pie if you weren’t here to share your talents.”

“Well, I had to repay your kindness somehow, Miss Sherringham.”

He was being very polite now, she noted. His tone changed back and forth, one minute casual and even too familiar, the next formal, distant, as if he couldn’t decide what he ought to be. When she’d first met him in Brighton, she’d never imagined that he even knew how to be courteous, but now, seeing him converse civilly with her father, she suspected there were hidden sides to Lucky Luke.

She looked at his scars, his watchful eyes, and then his lips.

I tell you what…you’ll owe me a kiss…One kiss. To clear your brother’s debt to me.

Becky swallowed hard, tasting the cooling mint on her tongue. She reached into a drawer of the Welsh dresser, fumbled to the very back of it, and brought out the playing card he had once given her. She placed the IOU, writing side up, on the kitchen table.

About Jayne Fresina

Jayne Fresina sprouted up in England, the youngest in a family of four daughters. Entertained by her father's colorful tales of growing up in the countryside, and surrounded by opinionated sisters - all with far more exciting lives than hers - she's always had inspiration for her beleaguered heroes and unstoppable heroines.

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