Title: Sins of a Virgin
Author: Anna Randol
Availability: Mass Market Paperback and e-book (Avon)
Source: ARC received from publisher in exchange for honest review
There is improper, there is scandalous…and then there is Madeline Valdan.
To the world, Madeline Valdan is a scandalous courtesan, with society’s most eligible gentlemen at her feet. But no one knows her shocking secret: she has never experienced the most intimate touch of any man. So she astonishes the ton by telling them the truth…and by announcing the auction of her virginity to the highest bidder.
Handsome and disciplined, Gabriel Huntford knows his time is best spent hunting down criminals from the darkest corners of London. As a Bow Street Runner investigating his sister’s death, he has no desire to join London’s strutting peacocks in this competition, when there are more important tasks at hand.
Now, his quest leads him to one of Madeline’s “suitors,” so he agrees to help this sinful woman. But what begins as a business arrangement quickly turns into something more…and love blooms with a passion neither one expected.
For an instant, her emotions were as bare as her body. “I will never regret you.”
This is only Anna Randol’s second published book (behind her debut novel Secret in Her Kiss and I can only hope she is happily ensconced in her writer’s den, busily tapping away at her keyboard in an effort to present us with more brilliance. I adored this book. Within minutes of finishing Sins of a Virgin, I immediately read Secret in Her Kiss and it’s sequel novella, A Naked Solution (brilliant name, no?). Anna Randol is DEFINITELY a writer to watch!
During the Napoleonic Wars, the British Foreign Office employed the services of a slect group of highly specialized spies, known collectively as “The Trio”. The agents, La Petit (Madeline Valdan), Cipher (Clayton Campbell), and Wraith (Ian Maddox) worked as a team to uncover enemy secrets throughout Europe. The most interesting thing about ‘The Trio’ is that each member was “plucked them from their fate on the gallows” in exchange for entering into the service of the Crown.
Now that peace has finally come to Europe, the government no longer has need of The Trio. They each receive full pardons and a moderate payment and are sent on their way. The money they receive is not sufficiently adequate for resumption of civilian life (although Cipher’s investment skills help).
As La Petit, Madeline Valdan has played the part of the whore for the Crown for several years, using her astonishing beauty and charm to wheedle information from enemy sources. The amazing thing is that, through it all, she never actually slept with a man – she did almost everything but the final act of consummation. Madeline decides her virginity is the only thing of value she has to make enough money to live comfortably, so she shocks London society by offering her maidenhead to the highest bidder.
Madeline hires Bow Street Runner Gabriel Huntford to look into the financial stability of her ‘suiters’ to make certain they can pay. Madeline also wants in to investigate to learn the sexual histories of the top bidders and for Gabriel to serve as her bodyguard. As she tells him: “It is in my best interest to look like I have something worth protecting.”
I loved Gabriel’s reaction when he first saw Madeline:
A woman stood in the doorway.
No that would be like calling the Holy Grail a drinking cup.
If his every dark, midnight fantasy had somehow come to life, they would have created this woman.
Scene’s like that are why I’ve grown to love Anna Randol’s writing!
Gabriel relishes the opportunity to investigate Madeline’s ‘suitors’ as he suspects one of them may be responsible for the death of his beloved twin sister. Madeline and Gabriel grow closer as they work on his sister’s murder investigation and recent threats against Madeline’s safety. I loved that they worked together and that Gabriel respected Madeline’s skills and experience. Madeline seemed to appreciate it too: 🙂
“What are your plans for the investigation?”
“I think we need to go back to the beginning.”
The we in his statement was the most romantic thing he could have said.
The Trio eventually reunites to protect Madeline and investigate the danger. It was fun to see the dynamic of their partnership and the way Gabriel reacted to their antics.
In all, I really enjoyed the journey Gabriel and Madeline took to find their happy ending. They each had to learn about themselves in order to give their hearts to each other and they appreciated their love all the more for they path they had to travel to achieve it.