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Friday, March 16, 2012

A Midsummer Night’s Sin by Kasey Michaels

A Midsummer Night’s Sin by Kasey Michaels
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (376 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 5 Stars
Revieweed by Xeranthemum

Meet the Blackthorn Brothers—three unrepentant scoundrels infamous for being mad, bad and perilous to love.

Handsome as the devil and twice as tempting, Robin "Puck" Blackthorn lives for the pleasures of the moment. His only rule—never dally with an innocent woman. But when an encounter at a masquerade ball leaves him coveting the one woman who refuses to succumb to his charms, Puck realizes that some rules were made to be broken….

Scandalized to discover that the masked man with whom she'd shared a dance—and a forbidden embrace—is in fact the ton's most celebrated rake, Regina Hackett vows to keep her distance. Yet when her cousin vanishes, it is to Puck that Regina must turn. And as they embark on a dangerous journey through London's darkest alleys, Regina will discover that beneath Puck's roguish facade lies a man who will stop at nothing to protect her—or to convince her to take a chance on an unrepentant sinner.

A hero named Puck is odd enough but when the playboy and all around society charmer finds the woman of his dreams, the façade drops and the real picture is revealed. Readers are in for a treat because Puck Blackthorn is all man, with a core of granite and iron the bad guys never saw coming.

Ms. Michaels has a winner. I was teased with getting to know Puck in the first book about the Blackthorn brothers in The Taming of the Rake but nothing could have prepared me for the adventures that awaited this happy go lucky guy.

In this installment, I found further hints of the unusual upbringing he and his brothers had. For some reason, as easily as they explained the arrangement and as accepting as they appeared, I don’t think they truly believed all they’ve been told. Certainly Puck says something to the heroine in the final chapters of the story that surprised me. I found him to be a very observant hero. He had to be if he expected to survive the hair raising adventures the heroine swept him into.

Regina is a plucky heroine who made one decision that changed not only her life but left her eyes and brain traumatized for life. She saw something that was so gross and shocking, if the distraction of her cousin disappearing hadn’t happened, I’m not sure how she would have handled the fallout. I think I would have gotten sauced trying to forget. As it is, the heroine’s one accidental interlude with Puck ended up being the best, most wonderful and exciting thing to happen even her wildest romantic fantasies couldn’t have conjured.

One of the characteristic traits the author imbued the hero with was absolutely gorgeous hair. I know it was meant to be sensual and exotic in a way. But all I could picture in my mind was either Fabio tossing his long locks or one of the hair commercials that showcase silky, flowing tresses that shimmer and sway in an alluring manner. If Puck hadn’t turned out to be as gritty and physical as he did, I don’t think I could have forgiven a man having better hair than me. As it is, the hero knew how to play his assets to advantage and it comes in rather handy, even to the point of luring the lusting Regina to do wild and wonderful things with him. I rather enjoyed those scenes because Ms. Michaels wrote them with passion, intensity and with a romantic flair that truly entertained. They were extra spicy and delicious.

The plot movement during this book is frenetic and adventurous. The consistent external conflict was gripping and suspenseful because Puck and Regina have to find her cousin before an absolutely horrendous and most heinous crime could be committed. The daunting task of finding all the clues and putting the criminal puzzle together in time kept me glued to the pages. Puck had some help from his rather surprising and mysterious brother, Jack. Jack’s involvement was much more pronounced in this book versus the one previous with Beau. In A Midsummer Night’s Sin, he’s everywhere. I don’t mean he overshadows his brother, Puck. I’m talking about how he appears every time something momentous happens, like he has a second knowing, or he has a paranormal super ability that makes him unstoppable and effective as a spy. How did he DO that?

My favorite part is when Jack and Puck work together because only then did I get a glimpse of what Jack is capable of. Not only that, but I saw a mending of family. Through a most disgusting situation fraught with peril and death, the brothers found common ground and I recognized a light bulb moment. They both realized they truly were more than brothers in name only; they really could be a family. I was thrilled to see that but it didn’t last long because then the scene exploded into shots fired, fighting with knives and daring-do that made my heart pound. What in the world was a guy usually into frilly lace cuffs and perfectly coiffed appearance doing with such ruffians? And why would a gently bred lady be right in the middle of it?

Because the heroine has attitude and a strong sense of right and wrong and no way was she going to sit in a parlor or library and fret like a ditzy miss. No matter if Puck really wished she would. Regina, I found out, had a way with her man. I loved how she worked him over in order to get what she wanted. She was a total delight – courageous, loyal, feisty, and with a stiff inner core a corset could only envy. That’s good because what she learned about her own family had a devastating effect on her. And yet, her choices after she and Puck figured things out made me respect her character. She’d make a wonderful addition to the Blackthorn clan – she just had to survive the ramifications of what they discovered when they found her cousin. Talk about heartbreak!

The happily ever after was refreshing after all that chaos and action. Ms. Michaels wrapped up their unusual courtship with a wonderfully written and romantically engaging epilogue ending. The last paragraphs of the final chapter were poetic justice. I knew what happened but what Regina was led to believe was for the best. And I felt very proud of Puck and Jack for choosing that route. They really are wonderful guys but I hope to find out just how terrific Jack is in the last book of the trilogy. This book revealed so many hints as to the many facets of his personality that I can’t wait to read it. Especially after Puck, in his clever way, wormed out a certain piece of information out of him during one of their few one on one scenes. It guaranteed it as an auto-buy for me.

A Midsummer Night’s Sin combines adventure and romance to such perfection, it’s a must read. I adored the characters, thrilled to the action and was entertained by their most scandalous courtship. There is nothing I can think better to do than to highly recommend this story to all readers of romantic suspense, whether they enjoy historical or contemporaries. This book easily crosses fan preferences because A Midsummer Night’s Sin has it all. Pick up your own copy and be amazed, dazzled and intrigued by this well written and gripping novel.