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Lust (Sins and the Virtues) Paperback – January 18, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Charlotte Featherstone writes erotic historical romance, and historical romance for Harlequin Spice, and HQN Books. Her writing style has been described as beautiful, haunting, emotional and sensual. Charlotte lives on Lake Erie's North Shore in Ontario Canada, with her husband, daughter and two lovable but ill behaved dogs.


Charlotte's website address is www.charlottefeatherstone.net


 

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.



"Your Highness, the time has come."

He knew it. Heard the wails for what seemed like days now, the resonance ringing in his ears. Not even here, in his private solar, was he free from the cries that seemed to haunt his court. Another howl, worse than the keening of a banshee, echoed through the castle, whispering through his blood and settling deep within his black soul.

The curse was upon them.

Niall, king of the Unseelie Court, son of Duir and the most powerful of the Dark Fey, stood before the enormous hearth with legs braced wide and hands clasped behind his back. Unblinking, he watched the orange flames engulf a blackened oak log, sending sparks sizzling up the flue and into the chamber. Another female scream rent the air; its chilling sound found its way once more inside him as he fought to show no outward emotion.

"Your Highness—"

"Who is the maid who struggles to bring her child into the world?"

"Gertrude, female of Irian."

Niall shut his eyes against the pain of knowing his cousin would suffer this night. Irian, despite his Elvish blood, or perhaps because of it, was his best warrior at court. It did not matter to Niall that his cousin was a Halfling Fey. Irian was loyal and trustworthy, and like a brother to him. More than the blood brother whom Niall had shared a womb with. Irian's mixed blood had never been of consequence to Niall, until now.

"It was a mistake to allow him within the inner sanctum," the seer of the fey growled. "He has incurred the Mother Creator's wrath, and now we shall all suffer."

Niall held himself still, breathing deep, willing his anger to tether. "It is not the Mother Creator who has cursed us, Gwynad, but my mother."

He heard the seer growl behind him. The tip of the old man's yew staff slammed against the gold tiles, but Niall ignored Gwynad's theatrics—no one cowed him, especially this wizened old mage.

"How did the female come to be at our court?" he asked, grasping at anything at all that might tell him she and her babe would be spared from his mother's hatred and the curse that shrouded his court.

Gwynad sighed and rustled forward, his velvet robe whispering against the floor. "The girl was a servant. Irian purchased her from a mortal. Thirty pieces of silver, and a blessing on the mortal's child."

"It seems an even transaction," he grumbled, despite the growing unease in his belly. The woman—Gertrude—had not cried out in the last few minutes.

Gwynad pressed closer, his voice a hushed whisper. "She did not want to come to the Unseelie Court despite Irian's assurance she would be treated like a princess. She tried to persuade the mortal to take her back, but then Irian and his crazed Elvish blood took over and he stole her, carrying her here as though he were god of the underworld and her an innocent maid.

"She was not willing, nor has she softened," Gwynad hissed, reminding Niall, not so subtly, of the curse his mother had placed on his court.

Irian loved the mortal. Niall knew that. But he also knew that Gertrude had never grown to love Irian. They were doomed, as was their babe. As was the Unseelie Court.

Suddenly the door to the solar was thrown wide, the thick oak ratcheting off the wall. Behind him, Niall heard the enraged breathing, smelled the scent of sorrow mixed with the sweet smell of death.

"She's gone."

Two words filled with gut-wrenching agony. Niall closed his eyes against it, steeling himself in opposition to the pain he heard in Irian's voice.

"Damn you, she's gone!"

Slowly Niall turned, bracing himself for what he would face. Draped over Irian's arms was Gertrude, limp and pale—lifeless. She was dressed in a white gown, from the waist down the snowy fabric was coated red. His lover's lifeblood dripped onto Irian's boots and puddled between his feet.

"She will be afforded a fey burial as though she were your wife, Irian. As you are a prince of the Dark Fey, she would have been your princess. She will be buried as such."

Niall looked up into the anguished face of his brother of the heart, willing Irian to look at him, but the warrior was consumed now, and the only thing Irian saw was his dead mate lying in his arms.

"What of the babe?" demanded Gwynad.

Irian growled, took a menacing step toward the seer, but caught Niall's eyes and steadied his raging blood.

"It is a boy. He's…alive. I do not know for how much longer. The mortal midwife says he has been born too early."

"Gwynad," Niall commanded, "fetch a woman to feed the child."

The old man looked at him as though he were mad. "We have not had a child born to this court in years, Your Highness. There is no milk to be had from our women."

"Then you have my permission to steal a wet nurse from the mortal realm."

"And bring more disaster down upon us?" the seer thundered. "Your Highness, I beg you. There can be no more stealing from the mortals. Our court is dying! We must find a way to break your mother's spell—"

"And what do you think I have been doing since I claimed the throne?" Niall roared in frustration. "Sitting on my arse, having a merry party? Is that what you think I do in here all damn day?"

The seer bowed and took a step back. "I know you have been searching for a way—"

"Enough!" Niall barked. "Gwynad, you will order two servants to take milk from the cow Farmer Douglas leaves out in the pasture for us to avail ourselves. I gifted him and his wife with a child through my magic. The cow is a tithe. Go now." He turned his gaze to Irian. "Let us bury her in our way, my friend."

A sob escaped Irian as he looked down into his dead lover's face. "She didn't want that, to stay here with me and our court. She begged me, Niall, as she saw her impending death, to free her. I…promised her I would."

Swallowing hard, Niall watched Irian sink to his knees, weeping over Gertrude's lifeless body. Not for the first time, Niall cursed his mother, the queen of the Seelie Court, for the spell she had cast. He cursed his father for allowing decades to go by without bothering to search for a way to lift the spell. But most of all, he cursed the day his mother had taken his twin and left him at this court to watch his people dwindle and die.

"Irian," he murmured, resting his hand atop his cousin's shoulder. "We will avenge her death. I promise you that. I will find a way to break this curse. You will find another woman, Irian—you will. And she will want you and desire you as fiercely as you desire her."

Irian looked up at him, his black eyes glowing like onyx through a veil of anguish. "We are all cursed, Niall. The court is dying. Despite the riches we have and the bounty of food in our trenchers and the comforts of our chambers, we are cursed. We have every material thing a fey could desire except the love of a woman and children to see to the survival of our race."

"I will break this damnable curse, Irian. I will do whatever it takes. I vow that."

Irian's face twisted from sorrow to anger. "Who will want us, Niall," he sneered, "when we are condemned by sin?"

Standing in his father's bedchamber, Niall pushed aside the cobwebs that had grown in the years since Duir's death. Inside this room, the secret to lifting the curse was hidden, Niall felt sure of it.

A shiver of abhorrence slithered along his spine as he looked around the untouched chamber. The room was cold and oppressive, like the man who had once occupied it. Despite its warm jewel-colored bed hangings and lavish pillows in velvets and silk, the bed, indeed, the entire room, felt like a tomb. This room had also born witness to the rape of the Seelie queen, as well as the conception of him and his brother and their subsequent births. These walls had witnessed the night his mother had fled the Unseelie Court, taking with her his twin who was the image of her Seelie self, leaving him, the image of his father, to grow up in the care of a man who became nothing short of a raving madman.

In this room was the tainted past, and hidden amongst its dark secrets was the way to end the curse.

He glanced at the massive bed, its ivory sheets twisted and trailing to the floor, and saw the image of the king, dying. Leaving Niall to rule over a court that had no hope. A court tainted by the sins of his father.

As if whispered through the threadbare bed curtains, he heard the curse murmuring around him, a reminder of what he already knew—the legacy of his mother's wrath. They might as well have been inked onto his skin, for those words and her spell were embedded into every facet of his being.

His mother. He looked to the portrait that hung above his father's bed. Aine was silver haired and violet eyed— he had her eyes. She was from the court of sunlight and gaiety, and his father, from the court of night and carnal sin. Duir's was a world of dark beauty and erotic sensuality, and his mother had been repulsed by it. His father hadn't cared. His lust was too strong, so he had stolen her from her bed while she slept and forced her to accept him. His father, in his misguided Unseelie ignorance believed that he could make her love him through sex.

But his mother had never softened. Just as Gertrude had never softened with Irian.

Aine's hatred and vengeance was complete against the dark court. No mortal or immortal could be brought to the court against their will and made to love a fey. They had to come of their own volition. They had to give their body and soul willingly. And it was for certain that no female would want him, or the other Dark Fey, once they discovered who they really were. Beyond their faery beauty lay the sins of the world. Lust, vanity, envy, gluttony…all seven consumed in each fey prince. Wrath was Niall's sin, and tonight it was simmering beneath his flesh. He wanted revenge—bloody and merciless—against his mother, his twin and the entire Seelie Court.

"Tell me how," he whispered hoarsely. "How do I make this right?" He hoped the spirits, either malicious or benign, who haunted this chamber would hear him. "Tell me how to lift this bloody curse and save my court from this black spot."

A whisper, barely audible, brushed past him. Movement near the bookshelf caught his attention. The fluttering of vellum edged in gold leaf flittered to the floor, making him press closer. By magic, the image of words in the ancient fey tongue appeared before his eyes, giving him hope for the first time since he had assumed the throne of the Unseelie.

Some by sin rise, and some by virtue fall…

Glastonbury, Somerset, England 1789, the Eve of Beltane

The tor rose above the village like a megalithic warrior, glinting in the sunlight. Atop the mysterious mound, like a stone needle penetrating the clouds, towered the remnants of St. Michael's Church. For centuries the villagers had said that Arthur and Guinevere were buried there. But others believed most steadfastly that the faery folk dwelt deep beneath the rippling green grass that resembled layers of plush velvet. It was said that underneath the grass, beneath the tor itself, lay a labyrinth of winding crypts—the magical path to the Faery.

On certain nights of the year, like tonight, the Eve of Beltane, the veil between the immortal and the mortal realm was thinned and the fey and all their beauty and magic walked unknowingly amongst man. But Beltane was not until twilight. Hours away, yet. They were free from the faeries. At least for now.

Casting an admiring glance at the mysterious and striking tor, Chastity, of all people, knew to believe in the tales of the Daoine Side. The Faery People.

Drawn to the tor as she was, Chastity gripped the handle of her wicker basket tighter in her gloved hands, as if grounding herself against the luring beauty that tried to bewitch her. The tor, it was believed, was the site of the Unseelie Court—the unholy court of the fey. Dark faeries, the Unseelie were. Enigmatically erotic, haunting, beautiful fey that corrupted a soul with all the unearthly, sinful pleasures that any human could ever desire. The Dark Fey and their wicked enchantments were everything that Chastity stood against. The deep-seated virtue within her balked at everything they were: lustful, tempting creatures who stole virgins away from their beds and ravished them.

She should not be intrigued by the tor, or the tempting idea of a magical netherworld that was the Unseelie Court. She should be repulsed. Terrified for her mortal soul. Yet the only time she ever felt the slightest bit of tingling in her woman's body occurred when her gaze lingered upon the sacred mound. Even now, as she strolled down the high street of Glastonbury with her sisters, her gaze was fixed on the tor. There was the faintest tingling in her body. She felt a touch warm, her thighs quivered slightly. Only the tor and the thought of the Dark Fey made her feel this way. Perhaps she felt the prickling awareness because they represented danger.

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Product Details

  • Series: Sins and the Virtues
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Spice (January 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0373605528
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373605521
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,550,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book was so good, I don't even think I could begin to do it justice. I was totally immersed in the sensual world of the Fey while entranced by a young woman's introduction to the most erotic delights.

The cursed princes of the Unseelie Court (Dark Fey) are trying to find a way to save their dying kingdom. They feel that the Lennox sisters are just the way to do that. If they can get these women, who they believe are the Virtues that rival their Sins, to come to their court willingly, the Unseelie may be able to have children and thrive again.

However, the Queen of the Seelie Court will do whatever is in her power to prevent that from happening. She cursed the Unseelie because of what was done to her many years ago, and she's not through exacting her revenge. Thane, a prince of the Dark Fey, has been cursed with the sin Lust who takes over his body, and now he's set his sights on Chastity Lennox. She resists him at first, but he awakens a whole new side of her that both scares and excites her. What starts as duty develops into love, but it may not be enough to save the kingdom.

I don't even know where to start with this book. It was so amazing. The world building was phenomenal. The light and the dark Fey are battling it out for the Lennox sisters in England in the year 1789. I felt instantly transported to this rural town where Chastity and her sisters live. As someone who usually doesn't care for historical fiction, the fact that I was so drawn in was a clear testament to the author's superior writing.

The characters in this book are phenomenal. We are dealing with Virtues and Sins. Chastity, of purity and innocence, and Thane, of lust and dark desires. Their chemistry was palpable.
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The Unseelie Court is doomed. Centuries ago, its King Duir had become besotted with the lovely Queen Aine of the golden Seelie Court, but Aine saw through Duir's dark, seductive beauty and turned him away. Desperate to have her anyway, he stole into her bedroom at night and kidnapped her, forced her to the Unseelie Court and used his powers of sexual skill to seduce her. Once she'd given him twin sons though, Aine sought her escape and revenge: she took one son and left the court with a curse. The son she left and any future son of Duir's would be possessed with a cardinal sin and until they could each bring a virtuous woman to the court of her own free will, the court would wither and die.

Chastity Lennox and her three sisters have always been raised to believe that they were born for some special unknown purpose. Chastity's never felt sexually attracted to a man, never felt any interest when the most handsome of men attempt to court her, but she's always had a deep yearning to fit in and be like other women.

Thane is possessed by Lust; when he sees Chastity, the beast in him roars for the conquest, but the man wants something more and both know they have to proceed carefully if they want her to follow them to the Dark Court willingly. While Thane isn't above using some of his fey powers to lull her into accepting his presence initially, Chastity's responses to Thane's sexual advances are all her own. The only barriers keeping her from following him to the Unseelie Court are the appearance of his half brother the Seelie Prince, the machinations of some of her own family and her leftover inhibitions.

Not surprisingly, this book is loaded with sensuality.
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I love Charlotte Determines writing style. She has an approach similar to Anne Stuart, with the darkness of the characters. I love her descriptions, and imagery. That being said, this book was missing a bit of plot that I definitely wanted. Maybe I am greedy and never satisfied. There were a lot of side plots happenings, and everything was going in several directions. It was hard to follow. I will be reading it again for clarity, and hoping for more satisfaction. Another side note that I want to point out is that a sequel has been promised, but it isn't it yet. No estimated time has been provided. That makes me sad. I want to know more.
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I have always been intrigued and fascinated by stories about the fey, and I have to say this story and the possibility of the additional Sin & Virtues stories definitely has me anxiously wanting more!

The only hope the Unseelie Court (Dark Fey) have of survival is to have the mortal women who possess the seven virtues come willingly to the Dark Fey that possess the seven sins. I know that the Unseelie are suppose to be bad and the Seelie are supposed to be good, but I believe it is for each reader to decide....This book explores the fact that the good and bad do not necessarily coincide with light and dark. The Dark Fey are masters of seduction, sensuality and all things carnal pleasure, but is that actually all that bad?? This reader for one says HELL NO!! Where as the Seelie are all things good and proper, but things are not always as they appear.

Thane, who possesses the sin of Lust, and Chastity are the focus of this book, I enjoyed their story very much as Chastity was at war with herself as to the woman she was supposed to be and the sensual woman she actually was. I was drawn to Thane right away, not only for his seductive ways and dark gorgeousness but also because he was a bit of a dirty talker! I am anxiously awaiting the six other Sins & Virtues books, I will say again what a brilliant storyteller Charlotte Featherstone is and if you have not read her before now what exactly are you waiting for???
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