Elizabeth Hoyt has only been publishing romances for a few years, but her work is as accomplished, complex, and elegantly written as those of the masters of the genre (like Madeleine Hunter, Mary Balogh, Loretta Chase, Eloisa James, Julia Quinn, etc.) What's more, her plots, characters, and writing style are all original; her voice is unique; and every book is distinct from the last one. I think those who haven't discovered Hoyt's books yet are in for a real treat.
"To Seduce a Sinner," like all of Hoyt's stories, features a troubled male protagonist, a multi-layered heroine (in fact, Melissande seems to have more hidden depths than any of her other heroines, save that of her first book, "The Raven Prince"), and a plot with dark undertones of loss, betrayal, and rage. In this case, Lord Vale is determined to discover the traitor in his war regiment, a journey that takes him to unsavory places to meet with unsavory people. Melissande, in contrast, is suffering from her unrequited love for Vale, love she attempts to keep hidden, even after they marry and start a sexual relationship. This struggle is surprisingly heartwrenching, and it's easy to identify with Melissande's restrained longing for her husband.
Vale is an extremely interesting character-- much more so than he seemed in the first book of this series. He's a cad with a strong moral code; a lover who seems oblivious at times to basic human emotion; a charmer who is befuddled by the enigmatic nature of his wife. The result is an intriguing love story where even small moments between Vale and Melissande crackle with chemistry.
I loved this story. In fact, I think it's my favorite of Elizabeth Hoyt's books simply because every page revealed something intriging about the characters or the historical period. The dialogue is crisp and witty; the love scenes erotic and raw, as is Hoyt's trademark.
I highly recommend "To Seduce a Sinner."