Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Review: Seven Years to Sin by Sylvia Day (ARC)

Two sisters: Jessica and Hester Sheffield, daughters of the Marquess of Hadley, occupy an exalted position in society. Sought after for their beauty and grace by all but, most especially, by two men:

Alistair Caulfield is the fourth son of the Duke of Masterson. Having three older brothers, Alistair is free to be the family's black sheep. He's younger than Jessica and has no prospects to speak of -- but it does not stop him from yearning for Jessica, betrothed to his best friend's older brother, Benedict, the Viscount Tarley.

Michael Sinclair has loved Hester Sheffield forever -- and has waited patiently for her to come of age so that he may profess his love for her. But Hester's father has loftier plans for her younger daughter than to have her married to a mere second son --

And so the two friends love and worship from afar -- watching the two sisters blossom in their "perfectly happy marriages".

Seven years later, Jessica is widowed and devastated. She intends to travel to Jamaica, to look after her husband's bequest to her, hoping to escape the sad memories in England. She finds herself on board the Acheron, owned by the now-successful Alistair Caulfield.

Jessica has never forgotten her last encounter with Alistair -- on the eve of her wedding, she stumbles upon him and a woman in a most compromising position. Jessica had not run away back then and does not plan to run away from Alistair now.

As they travel to Jamaica, Jessica and Alistair confront the once-forbidden attraction that they felt for each other -- and neither one knew about.

The ship is aptly named -- Jessica embarks on a journey of painful admissions and equally painful discoveries. And her mettle is tested: long trained by her father to cower and react in fear, she stands up for herself and defends someone weaker than her.

Unlike the river in Greek mythology, what awaits Jessica in Jamaica is not hell but the potential for paradise -- if she will only accept what Alistair offers her. Which is love. Love in its most physical and most unrefined form.

It is clear that Day intends for Jessica to undertake a heroic quest -- and the object of the quest is the seemingly elusive happiness and peace that has been lacking from Jessica's life.

Hester's life in London is the antithesis of her sister's -- while Jessica is undergoing a rebuilding/re-invention, Hester's life is breaking down: her husband is becoming more abusive and her spirit and body are slowly dimming.

This is not my first Sylvia Day novel. I've read and enjoyed most of the historical ones (The Stranger I Married is a personal favorite) and the beauty of Sylvia Day's erotic romances is that they have heart. They have the requisite heat and passion but, more than that, they are explorations of the arduous journey lovers take to find love.

This story does not disappoint: it has memorable characters on an unforgettable quest filled with longing, peril, pain, heat, passion (and references to mythology that enhances the story) -- all wonderfully and skillfully written by Sylvia Day.

(A bit of trivia: Sylvia Day has mentioned that Seven Years to Sin inspired her best-selling novel, Bared to You. Source: here.)

*Seven Years to Sin will be re-released this August 2012 in paperback and ebook.

Disclosure: I received the ARC through Netgalley. (Thank you to Kensington Books for accepting my request.)


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