To Sin with a Scoundrel
The first installment of Elliott’s Circle of Sin series, which features a collective of learned Regency women, focuses on widowed scientist Ciara Sheffield. Accused of murdering her husband, Lady Sheffield is tired of the rumors and innuendoes plaguing her good name. Fortunately for Ciara, Lucas Bingham, the Earl of Hadley, needs her help. Hadley’s name appears in the society pages as often as Ciara’s—he’s a notorious rake known for his shocking exploits. Hadley needs Ciara’s scientific assistance, and Ciara needs someone to pose as her fiancé until the scandal surrounding her late husband die down. It’s a perfect bargain—or is it? As the two travel through society together, they find that their make-believe romance is quickly turning into a reality.
Though the “reformed rake” plot is nothing new, Ciara and Hadley’s romance is enjoyable. Both are forced to adapt to the other’s needs, and Hadley proves to society that he is more gentleman than rakehell. The subplot involving an older member of the Circle of Sin and Hadley’s beloved uncle is the highlight of the novel. Overall, the dialogue is fresh and, at times, funny, and the resolution of the scandal that plagues Ciara throughout the novel is exciting.