Sins of a Virgin
At age 14, Madeline Valdan was rescued from prison – and certain death – and trained as a spy. Ten years later, the Napoleonic wars are over, and Madeline has only a paltry pension, the skills she learned as a spy, and her beauty. She decides that her best course of action is to invest the money she has into becoming London’s most sought-after woman – then auctioning off her virginity to the highest bidder. She attracts enough attention that her plan could work, but she needs to ensure that the winner has the means to pay. Enter Gabriel Huntford, a Bow Street Runner (and the illegitimate son of a noble), whom Madeline engages to investigate her potential suitors. Huntford has an ulterior motive: his sister was brutally murdered seven years ago, and several of the suspects are on Madeline’s list of bidders. What begins as a business arrangement turns to love, and Madeline has to decide whether to call off the auction and follow her heart, or to go through with her plan and ensure her financial security.
Randol blends suspense, action, and romance effectively in this story of two intelligent people with hidden pasts. Madeline’s ten years of experience as a spy comes into play several times during the book, and she bests Huntford at investigation a couple of times. The “virginity auction” plot device extends the sexual tension between Madeline and Huntford, which is a refreshing break from current trends in romance. Randol’s second novel delivers on its unique premise, and then some.