Thursday, January 17, 2013

Review: Master of Sin by Maggie Robinson


In the final installation in Maggie Robinson's The Courtesan Court series, Robinson takes us out of Jane Street and to the farthest, most remote part of Scotland where Andrew Rossiter is hiding under the name Andrew Ross with his son, Marc Ross.

Andrew has lived the golden life as a male prostitute, enjoying all the pleasures of sin and of the flesh and had no thought of stopping until his powerful patrons, the di Maniero's are brutally murdered. Andrew is injured and alone with the young son of the Duca and Duchessa, Marco.

The people behind the murder are too powerful for Andrew to fight against, so he takes the boy, runs away from the Continent to hide in Scotland.

It is a strange situation for a male prostitute to be in -- his new home has very little creature comfort to offer, the weather is inhospitable and the people only speak Gaelic. Andrew does his best -- but his talent and charm prove useless in his new life. Gull House on Batter Island is too isolated, too far, too harsh, too uncomfortable but it happens to be the safest place for Andrew to hide Marc.

Gemma Peartree faked the recommendations that got her the job as Marc's governess -- and she, too, has reasons for accepting a position in such a terrible location: recently spurned by her lover, she took off with his jewels (she considers them payment for services rendered) and ran off.

She hadn't expected a man like Andrew as a boss or a place like Gull House, but Gemma falls in love with Marc, whom she diligently teaches English and then finds herself falling in love with Marc's father.

Andrew doesn't know what to do with Gemma. He is definitely attracted to her but, love? Andrew isn't certain he is capable of feeling love -- he is very good with bodies and pleasure but love is something alien to him.

Andrew and Gemma are characters who are out of their element and comfort zone. They are used to living a certain way of life and a different sort of world but, at Gull House, they are stripped of everything familiar and, in Gemma's case, of her beautiful clothes. They are laid bare to each other and to themselves -- and are forced to confront their imperfections: their past selves, their mistakes, etc.

It is a brutal, very uncomfortable awakening for our hero and heroine --

The tone of Master of Sin is very different from the first three books in the series and I'm still not sure what to feel about Andrew. He was very interesting in Edward and Caro's story but I didn't like the decisions he made in his own story. I felt that he waffled a bit when it came to Gemma -- want her, not want her, want her.

And Gemma wasn't any different.

But I thought that was part of who they were: two people trying to figure out life, stumbling along the way and making mistakes -- this very odd set of people trying to become a family.

There are good parts in this story, I loved where Gemma refuses to give her name to Andrew and he has to keep guessing what it is. I also loved the confessional that begins in p. 146 and continues in Chapter 15.

And I love how they struggle to love. To find happiness despite their speckled, imperfect lives.

"...Fate has brought you here. Fate has brought me here. There truly isn't anything you could tell me to shock me -- my mother took care of all that. I am the perfect woman for you."

...

She slid off the bed to join him on the floor, paying no mind to the fact that she was naked and he still dressed. She touched his cheek. "It's time for you to be happy, Andrew. I think we can be happy together. I didn't plan to fall in love with you, but I have. Won't you love me back?"
- pp. 202-203

But there were parts of this novel that didn't seem to fit: I didn't understand why Andrew had to hide Marc. Throughout the novel, there was no hint of danger to Andrew and Marc. Edward Christie helped Andrew secure Gull House -- but even Andrew questioned if Edward was really helping him or punishing him by sending him to such a place.

The story rambled in parts and I had some difficulty following some threads -- on the whole, this was an okay read. Not as stunning or as heartbreaking as the Mistress stories -- but this book has it's own charm: it talks of redemption and love. It also touches on family and the many different kinds of families that exist in the world.

Master of Sin is Book 4 in Maggie Robinson's Courtesan Court Series. The books in the series are:
Book 1: Mistress by Mistake
Book 2: Mistress by Midnight
Book 3: Mistress by Marriage
Book 4: Master of Sin

There are also two novellas related to the series:
1.5: Not Quite a Courtesan (in the Lords of Passion anthology)
2.5: To Match a Thief (in the Improper Gentlemen anthology)

To find out more about Maggie Robinson and her books, visit her website. She's also on Facebook.


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