** spoiler alert **
My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed
is the first book in AC’s new series Sons of Sin. I haven’t read AC’s book for a while now, but I was eagerly waiting for this installment. I can say this lived up to my expectations and more. The story was awesome. The hero Jonas, a sexy babe and the heroine, Sidonie, quite lovable. The whole atmosphere of this novel had a Gothic feeling and I presume AC meant to make it so. Her writing was, as usual, excellent. I loved how smoothly I cruised through the story with her narratives!
Sidonie arrives in Castle Craven, a dilapidated castle in faraway Devon, from London, to save her sister Roberta. Roberta, a mother of two sons, is in an unhappy marriage with a callous, bullying man. William, a viscount, who beats up his wife with the slightest provocations. Sidonie has been living with Roberta for sometimes now and knows how awful William can be. Sidonie and Roberta’s childhood wasn’t a very happy one. Their father never cared for them since he wasn’t blessed with a boy, instead to two ‘useless’ girls. Apparently, after the death of their mother at a young age, the older Roberta took care of Sidonie. She had always viewed her older sister as a mother figure and so, she’s is very loyal to her. This misplaced loyalty, today, brought her here in Castle Craven. After her disastrous marriage, Roberta turned to card playing and gambling to find solace. William’s money (which was her dowry mostly) was already replete due to his reckless business ventures and Roberta’s heavy losses only made things worse. Sidonie, being never married and a few months away from her majority to get her own inheritance, is desperate. According to Roberta, here waits for her the most notorious rakes of all, a hideous looking man, who is also evil at heart and as ruthless as the very devil- Jonas Merrick. He’s also as rich as Croesus. Jonas is William’s bastard cousin, and both can’t stand the shadow of each-other. Knowing it all, Roberta still played and still lost a huge amount of money, which she was to repay by agreeing to have a tryst with him for a week. But Sidonie knew if William hears of this, this time he’ll kill Roberta. And so, she comes to give herself to Jonas in her sister’s stead.
The description of the environment of Castle Craven in the beginning was excellent; the darkness, the lightning and the storm along with the looming castle that Sidonie views in the dark. As she’s taken inside, she finds the master of the house sitting in the huge dining room, all alone. Her first glimpse of him was shocking, horrifying even. Jonas Merrick has one of those badly disfigured faces that, at first, just robs you off your speech. Long and deep gashes of old wounds can be seen on one of his cheeks and an eye-brow. Even his nose seemed to have been once broken. He’s a dark man, with darker mien and apparently, not happy to see his guest. Sidonie is scared inside but oddly enough, she’s not really disgusted by his appearance. And as the first traces of shock starts wearing off, she starts viewing Jonas differently as well. This I totally appreciated from her, expected actually. Jonas had a enormously shaky self-esteem where his looks were concerned, though he tried to cover it with his mocking and cynical remarks and one of those jaded, amused smiles. And who can’t blame him? Inside, he was such a sad soul, who wanted the acceptance, touch, appreciation and love of a worthy female.
Jonas has made it big, has a come a long way since the marriage of his parents were dismissed as illegal and him a bastard. He’d seen love, and the pining from his father’s side because his mother died when he was very young. A Spaniard by birth, Jonas’s mother was termed as ‘whore’ by the people here, ever since she stepped on the British soil. After her death, his father sort of pulled himself off of everything and Jonas grew up almost all alone. Even when he was recovering from his wounds... he wasn’t much more than a boy when that happened. Eventually, the viscountcy went out of Jonas’s hands when after his father’s death his cousin William inherited it. Jonas made all the money, can be called successful but the stigma of being a bastard remained with him no matter what. And in this world, Jonas is as alone as a man could ever be. He has no future of speak of, a future he can look forward to. There’s only bleakness and antipathy. He’s learned that money can’t give him everything he wants.
Jonas wasn’t only spurned by his family, but his lovers too. At first, they were just too shocked and horrified. The later ones may have taken on him as an adventure of sort. How appalling! A matured Jonas used his skills to keep his lovers satisfied and also, by taking precautions so that they don’t see his face. I generally don’t care to read about the hero’s OWs but as I learn of these things from Jonas’ musings, I felt so sad for him. He didn’t deserve any of the things he was forced to face or endure.
But Sidonie, she took his breath away on the first look with her dark hair, eyes and lovely visage. I think Jonas was a goner from the moment she revealed her face to him on the first night. She wasn’t Roberta, of that he was sure but he was never introduced to Sidonie. I should’ve hated Jonas, because f*cking Roberta was sort of getting back at his disgusting cousin but Jonas wasn’t really enamored of her in anyway. If any, he found her a ninny. But one look at Sidonie, and Jonas knew she’s unlike any woman he’d ever known in his jaded life. He’s a selfish bastard and he’d take Sidonie, whatever she has to offer to him. But sadly, their first meeting wasn’t very inspiring and Jonas’s sarcastic remarks only served to make Sidonie angry. She was so ready to hate him for that, until he presses a soft kiss on her mouth… The attraction between them was ever so palpable. The vibration intense. Jonas and Sidonie both felt it. Though Jonas, with all his experience, knew what it was, Sidonie was left baffled by this pull.
Later, Sidonie finds that the castle is, indeed totally uninhabitable, save for a few rooms. The best one is one that the master of the house occupies. I think Jonas used this castle as his trysting place, with only two elderly servants to take care of his needs. Jonas informs Sidonie that she’s to sleep in his room, and when she steps in it, she finds the room has a gaudy yellow setting with mirrors all over it. Left and right... everywhere. One even on the roof above his bed. Later we get to learn that he takes perverse satisfaction in taking a beautiful woman and comparing his own ugliness on the mirrors. I should’ve, by all accounts, been grossed out. The mention of Jonas’ past lovers came back more often than I’d care to know, even though they were nameless-faceless females. This room wasn’t something I’d want to hear about but Sidonie didn’t know about any of this then. And so, she was very surprised by the mirrors. But her host doesn’t come to visit her that night as expected and spends it sleeping on the cot in his dressing room. For some reason, the fact that she saw him as a defiler of innocent and came here as a martyr really upset Jonas. He wanted her acceptance of him as a lover, if not any deeper regard. Sidonie was also very surprised that her host was turning out be nothing she’s ever heard about him.
The next day, Sidonie was determined to leave, thinking, since she’d given him the chance and he didn’t take it, she’s free of the obligation. But Jonas gently challenges her. He requests her to stay and get to know each-other. One week, and if nothing happens, she can leave with the gambling vouchers, her virginity intact. Sidonie is determined to win, leave with the winnings and she informs Jonas so. Gradually, as she got to learn of her reluctant host more, Sidonie begins to find that he’s not at all what Roberta or the world in general made him out to be. He’s brilliant, he’s smart, he has a conscience (even though he doesn’t want it) that bugs him a lot. He can smile and that smile transforms his face totally. Sidonie begins to find his gray eyes intense and beautiful, his voice sexy. But most of all, the man has an enigmatic personality that can’t be denied or ignored. This is what pulled me to Jonas as well. The man he was on the outside but his vulnerabilities that made him less of a ruthless man that others were wary of.
Soon, Sidonie knew that there was no way she can deny Jonas and the obvious sexual pull between them. Jonas didn’t make things easier, because even though he didn’t push her, his kisses and words were enough for an inexperienced girl like her. When he was bend on getting his way, Jonas Merrick got what he wanted. And he definitely wanted Sidonie. Though he’d try telling himself that it was all a matter of selfish lust, deep inside Jonas knew that something in him has irrevocably changed. There were misunderstandings in this seduction as well, which, at first, makes Sidonie angry and confused. I didn’t know what to think really. It was such a double edged situation, couldn’t blame Sidonie completely but I was also moved by Jonas’ gut-churning desperation. He knew he’d never have Sidonie for a longer time, even though he had plans to convince her to stay… if possible, forever (a word that becomes an echo in his mind after he finally becomes intimate with her). Jonas was so desperate because time was running out and wasn’t averse to a little cheating. Sidonie couldn’t take it. She wasn’t really impressed by the whole male specimen to begin with, glowing example being her own father and brother-in-law (a big reason why she never married), but she thought Jonas, somehow, was different. When Jonas muddles her brain with his drugging kisses and was about to have sex, she comes to her senses. This ensue a crazy scene afterwards… Later on, Jonas takes care of her, knowing that he’d never have the chance to touch or hold her again. He was just dying inside, and Sidonie’s rude and abrupt behavior wasn’t helping matters. When I was reading Jonas’ musings, gosh, it was really painful... he was wracked with guilt to have hurt her like this, all the while berating himself.
The next day, Jonas sends words that his carriage is waiting, along with Roberta’s vouchers. Sidonie was already very embarrassed by her impulsive behavior but after this, she was just blown away by the monster’s
generosity. Now she’s willing to mend fences, because there were no more questions for her to turn her back on him. I loved that this wasn’t dragged on, and Sidonie was the one to convince Jonas to make love to her. With this, they start their affair, though I don’t want to call it that. It was much more than a simple affair
. Sidoine begins to understand Jonas’ vulnerabilities concerning his looks, the hurts and snubs that he has been forced to face all his life. She even understood his perverseness about all those mirrors. But above all, Sidonie wanted to heal Jonas. She was at first very reluctant to have sex in a room full of mirrors. I totally got that, I would too. But Jonas gradually brought out her… what can I say, inner hussy? *winkwink* He already knew that Sidonie had an inherent sexiness and he was proven right. This was his undoing as a whole. The connection they shared went beyond anything he’d ever experienced. But the best thing was, she accepted him as he was, just a man, because to Sidonie, the scars were a part of Jonas, and didn’t take over the man himself. I loved this reciprocation from both sides. Sex scenes were amazing, hawt and sweet. *sigh* Jonas was crazy about her, no doubt and couldn’t keep his hands off.
Then, when things were going to good, I knew bad things were also on the way. One was, Jonas has already fallen and wanted to have Sidonie forever. Marriage was on his mind. For the first time, he was envisioning a future with a wife and maybe, children someday. But Sidonie was still scared of the word ‘marriage’ and denies his proposal. This causes some minor rift between them. Jonas, even knowing her situation, couldn’t help the vulnerability about his looks rousing to haunt him, though Sidonie, more than once told him his scars doesn’t matter to her at all. As I said, the story was full of double edged situations. I got it all, and yet, Jonas getting hurt by Sidonie’s words made me frustrated. Since I knew his desperation about keeping her in his life, it felt that Sidonie was being unfair to the man. But when Sidonie said, it’s only been a week that they’d known each-other, I couldn’t deny her logic as well. She wasn’t a ninnyhammer. As the time for her parting arrives, Jonas forces out a promise from her, that she’d give this a serious thought; a week and no more.
Jonas also confided many things in Sidonie, one vital secret was about his disfigurement and who was behind it. Jonas never spoke of it to anyone, but Sidonie wasn’t just ‘anyone’ to him anymore. When the name and the reason behind it were revealed I was shocked, saddened and felt my tears rolling down. But I should’ve guessed the culprit. Sidonie was incensed with anger and her plans for revenge against that scumbag solidify. Sadly, she withheld some very crucial information from Jonas, something that might as well work to dismiss his illegitimacy and make him the viscount. Jonas’ parents’ marriage document, which she found hidden in the library of William’s townhouse. Sidonie’s first plan was like that; when she reaches her majority, she can take care of Roberta and her sons, and use that document to blackmail William so that he stays away. But now, her plans have altered quite a lot, though Roberta was still no 1 on her list. I didn’t like it for sure but I also understood Sidonie’s need to save and protect her sister.
I was already feeling uncomfortable about this...
Jonas accompanies Sidonie to London. He owns a house next to Williams; a huge mansion, just to taunt his cousin. Jonas is very circumspect about his relationship with Sidonie, not wanting to hurt her reputation. At home, Sidonie finds a frantic Roberta trying to escape. Yes, she has done it again, lost big in another card game. Sidonie is aghast and speechless. Roberta asks her to help her with the packing before William’s return. Sisterly concern takes over and Sidonie was about to do that. Then Roberta asks her about her week with Jonas. She doesn’t hide her disgust and dislike where Jonas was concerned, a fact rubs Sidonie raw. I loved how she supported Jonas against Roberta’s accusations. Roberta was ungrateful to the core. Even though AC tried to give various reasons behind her shallowness, I still couldn’t bring myself to like her. She was way too judgmental where Jonas was concerned. I hope she’s not made a heroine in any of the next installments. Things go wrong as William comes in and catches them. He handles it, or tries to in his usual way, by hitting Roberta. Sidonie is also hurt while trying to save her but mostly, because she was mad as a hellcat when reminded of what William did to Jonas. Jonas, who had men watching the house, gets the news immediately and comes barging in. A deadly fight follows. Sidonie was scared that one or both would be killed, their hatred was so deeply ingrained.
In between, Roberta and William keep exchanging barbs and taunts… William was vile and pushes Roberta’s limits. She pushes him down the stairs in front of Jonas and Sidonie. It happened so fast that none had the time to act. By now I was devouring the book and biting my nails, waiting to see what happens next. William is killed instantly. Roberta is in shock. Jonas makes all the plans as how to save her from the gallows. Sidonie was grateful for Jonas’ support, though Roberta wasn’t. Even his plans seem to work very well for a time. But, that doesn’t stay that way. Soon enough, the suspicion is diverted to Jonas because of the widely known enmity. Sidonie is now desperate to help him and tell him about his inheritance. By now, she’s confirmed that Jonas’ parents’ marriage was valid. She seeks out helps from two of Jonas’ friends. One, a Duke, Cam Rothermere and another, Richard Harmsworth. All three were childhood buddies, bound by the stigma of illegitimacy. Later, even though things turned out well for Cam and Richard, it was still vague and unwelcoming for Jonas. He was also the one reluctant to keep the friendship alive. Cam (and his cold ducal arse) doesn’t see Sidonie at first but Richard, ever the charmer, smooths the way.
With their help, Sidonie is able to meet Jonas and tells him the truth. But then....... OMG, then ensues the big mis
of the story, which IMO, was pretty lame. Jonas started acting as this whiny brat, which didn’t go with his enigmatic personality at all. He wasn’t understanding, instead humiliates Sidonie with his cutting remarks and accuses her of betraying him by withholding the information and also, by making Roberta her priority. I couldn’t wholly blame Sidonie for her decisions, even though I didn’t like it. I was bummed when this was kept up for the rest of the book... I didn’t like whatever the hell happened in between, until the epilogue, which was very beautiful of course. I’m not sure why AC thought to put this distance and trust issue between them, when I was so convinced that they shared this special understanding. This last part cost 0.5 for me because it left a bitter taste in my mouth.
But overall, Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed
was an enthralling read. I also loved the excerpt of the next book, A Rake's Midnight Kiss
, which is Richard’s story. Impatient and eagerly waiting for the next installments! 4.5 stars. Highly recommended for the lovers of sexy, scarred hero and strong, loving heroines.This ARC was provided to me by Hatchett/Grand Central via netgalley which didn’t influence my review and rating in any way.