Ron's Reviews > To Sin With a Stranger

To Sin With a Stranger by Kathryn Caskie
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's review
Dec 12, 2008

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bookshelves: family-saga, historical-fiction, romance
Read in December, 2008

** spoiler alert ** The first in what promises to be a seven-novel series about the brothers and sisters Sinclair, who've been kicked out of the ancestral manse by their father, the Duke, and sent to London to clean up their act--if this initial round is anything to go by, each one of them is going to fall in love and get married before we're through.

Caskie has fun with the basic conceit--all of London gets caught up in a wager over whether Sterling Sinclair will marry Isobel Carington, which doesn't seem too likely considering that they met when she tried to stop a boxing match by stepping in front of him. Of course, since we know where this is going, the entertainment derives from seeing just how elaborate the narrative roadblocks will get. Caskie also cleverly brings in the plight of Lord Elgin and the Parthenon marbles as a means of illustrating certain aspects of the couple's respective characters (and, for one scene, a convenient setting).

The core romance is strong enough to have held up on its own, so knowing that it's just the opening act in a much longer story is mildly annoying. The framework could also use a little tightening: the opening scene of the Sinclair brethren's eviction is suitably dramatic, but the closing scenes in which Sterling "earns" his father's respect puts an unsympathetic spin on the duke's insistence that each of his children has to "prove worthy of the Sinclair name." Instead of making him look like the stern-but-loving father all the narrative explanations want him to be, he basically looks like a conceited jerk... so much so that, apart from the money involved, it's not clear why these young men and women WOULDN'T be glad to have him out of their lives.

(That, and the story is really somewhat slighter than the fullness of the paperback would indicate; the typeface seems a bit larger than what I'm used to in the genre.)
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