The clue's in the genre - 'historical' romance - but To Sin with a Stranger disappoints,
falling far short of the standard required of 'historical'. Not only does it
bear the usual unfortunate Americanisms despite being set in 19th-century England, but the whole structure of the plot and the behavior of the characters
feels inauthentic. Every chapter something happens that rings false for the society in which the book
is set; this kind of writing might appeal to some, but I find it intensely irritating.
So what is To Sin with a Stranger actually about? It's the start of a series about seven Scottish brothers and sisters whose wayward behavior has caused their father, a duke, to send them to London with minimal funds to try to redeem themselves. First of the children, Sterling Sinclair, Marquess of Blackburn, is the focus of this book,
beginning with a boxing match in which he is participating being stopped by a young woman collecting money for widows and orphans of the war at La Corunna. He decides, slightly randomly, to enter an anonymous wager at White's that the Marquess of Blackburn will marry this woman, Isobel Carington, within a short time. The rest of the story involves meetings between Sinclair and Isobel in which they apparently fall in love, Sinclair tries to deal with his money problems, and the Elgin/Parthenon Marbles make an appearance.
To Sin with a Stranger lacks a firm, directive plot and meanders around, particularly the central love story.
It's difficult to get a hold on the motives of the one-dimensional main charactersThe lapses in historical accuracy
are off-putting - for example, Isobel's father is a minister in the Houses of Parliament and is addressed throughout the book as Minister Cornelius Carington, which is entirely incorrect: he should be Mr Carington or "The Minister."
The Elgin Marbles seem to be in the story for no better reason than to inject a bit of historicity. In summary, this lightweight book
has too many flaws to make it a truly enjoyable read.