Harlequin Spice, May 2010, $13.95
The Earl of Wallingford has no respect for women, but is far from a misanthrope when it comes to the opposite gender. In fact Matthew thinks females are good for one thing: sex. Thus he is a rake. Matthew is also an artist with no interest in inheriting his title. He goes so far as to finance a gallery by selling erotic painting at an auction.
Street pads assault and rob Matthew who is severely injured. Taken to a hospital his eyes are bandaged. As he heals, he finds himself looking forward to seeing his nursing angel, Jane Rankin. He is attracted to the sound of her voice, knows her smell intimately and relishes her touch when she helps him. Jane falls in love with him, but once the bandages are removed he fails to recognize her. At a wedding, they meet again and Matthew realizes she is his angel. They begin a tryst, but she is ready for a happily ever after, but childhood abuse leaves him unable to commit himself to her.
This is an entertaining heated Victorian romance starring a tortured soul who detests the hypocrisy of the aristocracy and a lowly nurse who simply loves him. The story line is driven by their sparing, but it is Wallingford who brings a vulnerability to the plot that makes this a strong historical. Sinful is a terrific tale with an upcoming online coda.