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Heidi Hart

By day, I'm a domestic violence prosecutor. By night, I read romance to restore my faith in love, relationships, and humanity in general. 

Pretty Good, Until the Hero Got All Butthurt

Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed (Sons of Sin) - Anna Campbell

I read the novella Her Christmas Earl over the holidays, and liked it well enough to check out some of Anna Campbell's full length books. I started with Seven Night's in a Rogue's Bed because it was already in my TBR, no doubt due to some sale or recommendation a long time hence. I found this story very readable and entertaining, though parts of it annoyed me considerably. 


The Set Up:  Jonas Merrick is a brooding bastard who has made it his life's ambition to take revenge on the cousin who scarred his face and stole his title. He lures his cousin's wife, Roberta, into an Indecent Proposal at the gaming table: having played too deep, she must now spend seven nights with Jonas. Upon learning of the terrible bet, Roberta's sister, Sidonie, offers herself to Jonas instead. Determined never to marry, Sidonie is willing to sacrifice her innocence to save Roberta's life, because Roberta's husband is an evil, violent man who would kill his wife if he learned she fulfilled her bargain. 


The good: I enjoy Campbell's writing style. She sets the scene very well and the pacing moves right along, unlike some authors who tend to drag out background detail so much that the story drags and then gloss over the good parts. I also enjoyed this plot, which took a lot of familiar tropes -- the gothic castle, the scarred hero with the tortured past, the hero in pursuit, the wrongful arrest, even

the secret baby

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! -- and took them in new and sometimes unexpected directions. Finally, I liked the gender flip of the afraid-of-commitment trope: here, the heroine, not the hero, was determined to avoid marriage. 


The bad: On several occasions, the hero and heroine behaved in ways I felt were melodramatic and not in keeping with their characters, and that diminished my overall enjoyment of the story. The heroine had one such moment where her behavior crossed the line into too-stupid-to-live territory and was completely irrational, though she was otherwise a reasonable, intelligent, and sympathetic character. (For details, click:

Overset by her physical response to some heavy-petting, and afraid her arousal would overcome her determination not to be seduced, Sidonie runs out into a November rain storm in her nightrail in the middle of a dark and stormy night, and nearly falls off a cliff into the ocean. The hero comes after her, realizes he loves her and needs to slow down the seduction routine because he's freaking her out, so after he brings her back to the house and warms her up, he withdraws. Sidonie then gets upset that he's keeping his distance, where not an hour before she literally fled from him in terror.

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The hero has a similar bout of out-of-character irrationality, one which really soured the last quarter of the book for me and brought my rating down at least one star. Sidonie has kept a secret from him --

she has proof that he is legitimate, not a bastard

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-- which she keeps for an extremely sympathetic reason, and which she reveals under circumstances which literally save Jonas's life. It's a pretty big secret, so I'd have been okay with him being pretty mad ... for a few days or until they have the kind of conversation that grown ups in relationships have after fights. Instead, he gets all butthurt and behaves like a total douchecanoe, cutting off all contact with Sidonie

until he finds out she's pregnant, forces her to marry him, and then insists he wants a marriage in name only

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. I might have been more sympathetic to his cause, but it seems to me that a guy who trapped a married woman into infidelity in a card game doesn't have a whole lot of moral high ground to stand on. 


I also found the sex scenes to tend toward purple prose. That's a minor quibble for me since I tend to skim the smexy parts anyway, especially in historical romance, but I know that makes some people crazy... so fair warning.