Review: Secrets of Sin by Chloe Harris

Friday, April 9

Title: Secrets of Sin*
Author:  Chloe Harris
Series: connected to In Deep
Genre:  Historical Erotic Romance
Publisher:  Aphrodisia/Kensington
Format:  Trade size paperback
Date/Year:  February 2010

*This book was provided to me by the author for review

Summary from the publisher:


On a Caribbean island of alluring delights, Emiline du Ronde-Barhydt commands a large estate, vast wealth, and unwavering devotion. Her inheritance and dazzling beauty insure that she’s granted her every wish… or almost. The one thing she can’t get is freedom from her proud wayward husband.

When her husband, sea captain Reinier Barhydt finally agrees to give his determined wife the divorce she craves - it’s for a price: three days of total submission to his every erotic demand. Both fall under the spell of the most forbidden sensations that reignite every delicious inch of their bodies… and Reinier soon realizes that he is no longer master of his carnal game. At the mercy of his own raw shattering needs, the three red hot days may just turn into a lifetime of smoldering passion…

My Musings:

I was surprised at how much I loved Secrets of Sin by Chloe Harris.  The Aphrodisia line of Erotic Romances from Kensington Publishing has been kind of hit or miss for me…to the point that I almost decided to stop reading them, except for the authors that I follow independent of the publisher.  I was initially captivated by the story after reading a blog post by one of the authors of this writing team who was expounding on the reasons why a reader might fall in love with their hero.  Afterwards I was desperate to read Secrets of Sin despite not knowing anything more about the author, or much more about the book other than the blurb.

The story begins with Emiline visiting her lawyer to request a divorce from her husband who abandoned her several years ago.  She was left as a young bride, and while learning to become a woman she also had to assume the responsibilities of her family’s plantation after the death of her father, and provide for everyone that is dependant on its success; a life and independence that she has grown to love. 

Reinier feared his growing love for his young wife who seemed only to care about the latest fashions, gossip, and projecting the image of perfection of herself and her marriage to her peers in her self centered world.  After many years of living at sea he returns to Emiline and to the island that holds bittersweet memories to try and secure the affections of his wife, while protecting his own heart in the bargain.

He gets Emiline to agree to experience the burning passion they once shared for each other over the course of three days in order to convince her that divorcing him would be a mistake.  In those three days he strives to earn her trust and touch her heart through their exploits in erotic lovemaking.  And while there may seem to be an abundant amount of loves scenes in this book I felt that each one had a distinct purpose in illustrating Reinier’s seduction of his supposedly wayward wife.  Even though the love scenes were explicit and numerous, they were crafted in a way without seeming to be gratuitous or graphic; instead I felt they were more sensuously erotic and purposeful to the overall story.

One of the things that I loved most about Secrets of Sin was how the story was told.  Almost the entire book is just the Heroine and Hero interacting with each other.  There aren’t a lot of secondary characters, no villains to have to fight…just inner demons, lack of communication, misunderstandings, and their struggle to discover each other again after several years apart, and develop a lasting type of love and relationship.  Surprisingly the story didn’t feel lacking because of the limited supporting characters; instead I felt that it gave the reader an undiluted experience into Emiline and Reineir’s journey towards love.

However, there are a few things that I wish would have been delved into more deeply that I think would have really enhanced the story for me.  First, I wish more would have been done with Emiline's actions as a young wife.  Towards the end of the story it is revealed that Emiline is bi-racial and because of insecurities about her origins she is constantly seeking the approval of her peers to prove that she is worthy to be among them in spite of her wealth and seeming perfection.  Her mixed heritage played a large part in her actions and how she presented herself to others to gain their acceptance at the beginning of their marriage and I felt that this insight into her insecurities would have made it a richer story and made her a more sympathetic heroine.  In fact, I wish the reader would have been introduced to their story in the beginning of the end of their new marriage....when she's desperately trying to be the perfect wife to prove she is worthy of his love and affection, but instead driving her husband away as a result since he believes he is only an instrument, or trophy of her triumphant debut.   There was so much potential to this facet of the story line but it was sadly only briefly mentioned, especially since it seemed to affect her behavior and actions as a young woman so greatly.

As it was written I felt more sympathy for Reinier and better understood his reasons for leaving than I did for Emiline even though he deserted her and had numerous affairs.   I wish more would have been done with her reasons for seeking perfection so we could have felt more of her despair at being abandoned, and as a result I think the story would have felt more balanced.  I also wish that Emiline would have confronted or expressed her feelings about Reinier’s infidelity.  This wasn’t really addressed, at least that I can remember, and that bothered me a little bit since they were supposed to be building the bonds of trust in their new attempt at love.

Despite what I felt were some missed opportunities to make this an even better book, the fact remains that Secrets of Sin is a decadently erotic and sumptuously written love story that earns the title of being both erotic and a romance.  It’s a fantastic debut by the writing team that comprises the author Chloe Harris, and I can’t wait for their next novel in this series, IN DEEP later this year.

Ratings 4.25 stars (on a sensuality scale of 1-5 this would be a hot 4, some ménage scenes, some light BDSM, sex toys, and an apt warning for a few things that garner a “don’t try this at home” )

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Cecile April 9, 2010 at 10:46 AM  

This was a very good review... And ((hee hee...)) for no other reason than this right here I am going to get it -->> "an apt warning for a few things that garner a “don’t try this at home”" NOW I HAVE to know!!!!!

You tease!!! Great review!!!
Hope all is well!

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