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Wicked As Sin: A Novel (Boscastle) Mass Market Paperback – June 24, 2008


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Product Details

  • Series: Boscastle
  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (June 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345503937
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345503930
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.3 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #543,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jillian Hunter is the author of eighteen critically acclaimed novels, and has received several awards, including the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award. Hunter lives in Southern California with her husband and three daughters.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

Enfield, England 1816

The devil had come to take possession of Helbourne Hall. It was an event not entirely surprising considering the manor house’s recent history of wicked deed-holders. Lady Alethea Claridge could not properly discern the details of her neighbor’s undignified arrival through the cracked spyglass she held to the window. What she managed to perceive, however, brought scant comfort to one who had sought seclusion from Society’s ill-behaved gentlemen. She and the two servants who stood beside her in the long gallery of her brother’s house watched the horseman in spellbound silence.

As she reconsidered her dramatic comparison of this person to Mephistopheles, she realized it could more kindly be said that he resembled a dark knight from the misty ages on a mission of rampage. This image might have brought more reassurance had she understood the nature of his quest.

The tall, darkly cloaked usurper sat his beautiful black Andalusian as if leading a cavalry brigade. He thundered down the moonlit hill with an apocalyptic disregard for safety or decorum.

Was he on the attack or on the run? She did not see anyone chasing after him.

“The innkeeper’s wife said he’d been half-killed at Waterloo,” Mrs. Sudley, the housekeeper, said under her breath, crowding in for a closer look. “Hideous scars on his neck from an injury that would have done in a normal man.”

“I thought you’d stopped listening to gossip,” Alethea murmured. “Furthermore, unless he is a ghost, that foolhardy display of horsemanship could not have been accomplished by a man not in the prime of his physical abilities.”

Mrs. Sudley’s loud sniff indicated that she had taken offense. “I only listened to the village talk to learn about him for your sake, Lady Alethea.”

“For my sake?” Alethea glanced at her askance. “What do I have to do with him?”

Mrs. Sudley frowned. “It is vital to your welfare to know whether he will prove a kind guardian to his estate.”

Alethea sighed at this unlikely possibility. “How many ‘kind’ guardians rob a man of his home in a card game, may I ask?”

“He’s from London, apparently,” Mrs. Sudley added in a tone of voice that said he might as well have sprung up from the underworld.

She smiled. “Not everyone from London—”

A spine-tingling ululation rose into the tranquillity of the country night. Alethea glimpsed a flash of steel in the horseman’s upraised hand—not the medieval shield she would have preferred a neighbor to brandish but rather a sword. Her scalp pricked in foreboding.

“Dear heaven,” she said, her brown eyes wide with astonishment. “It sounds as if he has given a battle cry. Is he planning to attack his own home?”

“He’s woke up every child and dog in the village,” her stoop-shouldered footman muttered with an ominous shake of his head. “Just listen to that bedeviled howlin’. He’ll be raisin’ the dead next with his carry-on. ’Tisn’t decent. I say we lock all the doors and arm ourselves until his lordship comes home.”

“He’ll be dead himself if he doesn’t heed where he’s going,” Alethea said in alarm. “He’s approaching the old bridge. He’ll never make it going—”

“—like a bat out of hell,” the footman muttered with relish. “Good riddance is what I think.”

She shot him a stern look. “Then keep those thoughts to yourself, Kemble.”

The housekeeper lifted her blue-veined hand to her eyes. “I cannot bear to stand witness. Tell me when it’s over, and if the news is bad, be gentle in describing the manner of his death. I’ve a weak stomach for gore and such.”

“Here,” the footman said impatiently. “There’s a warning sign standin’ right in front of that bridge unless them little ruffians from the parish orphanage took it down again. The fool can only blame himself if he breaks his neck.”

Alethea shook her head of sable-brown curls in exasperation. “One cannot argue that. However, it will not be the horse’s fault if his rider doesn’t bother to read it. It’s beyond irresponsible.”

She banged her fist helplessly upon the window as the reckless horseman wheeled and guided his horse into the woods that led to the bridge, the most direct route to Helbourne Hall.

“No,” she said aloud, her oval face paling. “Stop. Stop before—”

Of course he could not hear; how absurd to even attempt a warning. The rider had vanished from her sight into the thin stretch of trees that divided the lower lands of the two estates. She backed away from the window. She would not forgive herself if the horse took a fatal fall through the rotten bridge onto the sharp-toothed rocks below. The fact that it was not her brother’s bridge to maintain, but that of whoever happened to own Helbourne Hall, did not matter at the moment.

“Let the dogs loose, Cooper,” she instructed the second footman, who had come running to the top of the staircase upon hearing all the commotion. “Mrs. Sudley, bring me my boots and—”

“Shall I boil some water, my lady? And fetch a warm, clean blanket?”

“I doubt he’s going to give birth,” Alethea said in amusement. “However, a flask of brandy would not hurt. Even if I only use it to restore my nerves.” She cast one last worried look out the window. “Perhaps he’s hoping to kill himself. I might be so inclined if I had to take responsibility for that place.”

Helbourne Hall, the estate whose arable lands neighbored the well-tended acreage that belonged to Alethea’s brother, had been surrendered a month ago in a London gaming hall by its frivolous owner to an unidentified master. The once-grand Georgian manor seemed to have fallen under a curse. This was the fourth time in so many years that the mortgage had changed hands.

Each successive landlord had proven more neglectful than the previous until it was a wonder the hall still existed. Alethea supposed one could not expect finer aspirations from a seasoned gamester, although she could not remember a prior master seizing his assets in so unsettling a manner.

Her footman Kemble might be right. This nocturnal besiegement did not bode well for a slumberous village that held only one assembly a year.

Nor did it foreshadow a safe future for a young lady like Alethea who wished to withdraw from the world and to heal from the invisible wounds that another man had inflicted upon her.

More About the Author

Jillian Hunter is the author of twenty-one critically acclaimed novels, among them the bestselling Boscastle series. Her books have been printed in twelve languages and have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists. She has received several awards, including the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award. She lives in Southern California with her husband and three daughters.

Customer Reviews

I can't pin point why exactly, just found it a never ending bore.
Cooper
I didn't like the way Gabriel was obsessed by Alethea's sexual past when it was clear that she loved him in the 'here and now'.
Amazon Customer
I immediately (following the reading of this book) started reading the first in the series - great book!
Teacher

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By LuvGirl on July 5, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
We all know Gabriel from the previous books in the Boscastle series. He's the blacksheep cousin of the family. Now he's back from Waterloo and still up to his old tricks of being A reckless gambler and rogue. He wins A country manor right next door to the woman he's been pining for since he was a teenager. The beautiful Lady Alethea has always had A soft spot in her heart for the troubled youth that he was, but now she's finding out that it's even harder to resist the troubled man. The book will take you on A journey of secrets and misunderstandings, and the redemption of A scoundrel by the love of the woman he's always wanted.

This book was an okay read. I was really looking forward to reading about Gabriel's story after seeing what an exciting scoundrel he was in the previous books of the Boscastle series, but like most of the romance series that are out there now, he was not as exciting in his own book. I wanted to see A little of the same man that was so fascinating in the other books, but there were little of his old personality in this book. There were moments when I saw A shadow of the old Gabriel with his biting wit and easy going ways but his character took on A change that did not live up to the Gabriel of the past. Also, the storyline was not interesting enough to keep me glued to the pages and after I got to page 250 I started to lose interest. I still consider Jiillian Hunter A good writer though because she has A way of drawing you into the story with the characters clever wit [especially the hero's] and I always appreciate that in A book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Tams on July 2, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book follows the wicked Bostcastle cousin we have all come to know from the previous series. Gabriel is known for his sinful vices and gambling skill. He wins an estate at a game of chance that happens to be in the village where he grew up. Here he becomes reaquainted with the heroine Lady Alethea, who had also grown up in the village. We begin to learn about Gabriel's difficult childhood that shaped him into the scoundrel he was to become. Alethea had been the one nice memory in a bleak childhood, and the only one to show kindness to a boy acting out in his anger.

There is alot of character interaction and it is easy to see how the childhood acquaintances fall in love.

Alethea is also harboring a heartbreaking secret of her own. This leads to a big misuderstanding. The heroine, not being actually adverse to sharing her secret, but rather always looking for the opportune moment allows the secret to go on to long and the misuderstanding occurs. Gabriel becomes a bit of a hypocrit. However, the misunderstanding is resolved fairly quickly without being drawn out for to long.

There is a nice set up at the end for the next book in the series.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jody Allen on July 11, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I had so looked forward to reading Gabriel"s story but this one is such a big letdown. The story never seemed to create a momentum that could sustain it to a satisfying end. The "big secret" of the heroine is a cliche that has been used too often in books of this period of late. Ms Hunter let poor Gabriel ( and her loyal readers) down with such a lackluster offering.It kind of felt like this book was a "have to" rather than a " want to" for this author. If you are a Hunter loyal reader get it used, if you aren't familar with this author try her A DEEPER MAGIC, which is a far better offering from this well established author
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 16, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I agree with the majority of the reviewers of this book that it is not one of Hunter's best and I believe the Boscastle series has probably done its dash now. I really loved the first half - it had an emotional depth that I was really enjoying. Then things went to pot. I didn't like the way Gabriel was obsessed by Alethea's sexual past when it was clear that she loved him in the 'here and now'. But the really annoying thing about the second half that it was setting up for the next book in the series which had no relevance to Gabriel's story - a sort of after thought. So for Hunter's best efforts, go back to her earlier books.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lucia A. Rodriguez on July 31, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
After winning Helbourne Hall in a game of cards in London, Colonel Sir Gabriel Boscastle discovers the property is in the village where he spent a not very happy childhood with his cruel stepfather, and decides to make a visit to bury some demons. After that, he plans to sell the mansion.
But when he arrives, there's a surprise for him: Lady Alathea Claridge, a young neighbour who had shown him kindness in his youth, a woman he had always desired from afar, a feeling that didn't vanish as the years went. And she hasn't married anyone, a fact that changes drastically Gabriel's plans in the neighbourhood.

Gabriel is a cynical person, whose past has shaped his life. In this book we know him in depth, we suffer and understand him. He continues to be a rascal, but at the same time it's like a watered version of the Gabriel in previous books.
Alethea is a young woman marked by the death of her betrothed, but not as the people think. This causes a misunderstanding because she's not sincere (and I still don't understand her prolonged silence). Gabriel's exaggerated reaction didn't help either.
Regarding their relationship, I saw lust and an attraction / connection that began when they were younger, but not love at the point they feel it. I think the love came later, when as well as lust and a connection, they knew each other.
It's a pleasant book, with an interesting development at the end that points toward more books of the series, and it's nice to see again the rest of the family.
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