When Ruby/Madame Rouge left her brothel in the hands of her fallen half-sister Jasmine, she never could have imagined the new adventures it could bring. Madame Blanche may be inexperienced, but she is determined to create the best life for herself and her baby daughter. Jasmine’s old compatriots aren’t ready to let her go quietly, but at least one, Cynthia “Sin” Westhope, shows curiousity rather than condemnation.
Sin doesn’t fully understand Jasmine’s determination to leave the world they grew up in, but she respects the bond between mother and child and is daring enough to love the bond she and her old friend share. However, her bold visits to Madame Blanche’s get her kidnapped by someone who thinks he knows the best way to change Jasmine’s mind and puts her into a thoroughly compromising situation with a childhood crush who has grown into a stunning example of a man.
My favourite part of Lavinia Kent’s books is that they tend to focus on female agency, particularly in the realm of kink and BDSM. However, I felt that Tangled in Sin made several missteps early in the plot. Unless the hero of a BDSM romance is set up as a submissive I generally presume that he will have several domineering traits, some of which may annoy me more than others. James rubbed me the wrong way from the start when he was (historically I’ll give him) convinced that he knew the best choice to make for Jasmine, even at the expense of separating her from her infant. However, he pushed me over the edge when he decided to initiate a sexual encounter with a half asleep woman because a. he presumed she was a prostitute b. she was rubbing her butt against his crotch in her sleep. I recognize that dubious consent doesn’t bother some readers, and my main disappointment was that Ms. Kent’s previous books have focused so heavily on consent and clear choice. From that point on James needed to really rebuild himself to satisfy me as a romantic hero.
Sin, on the other hand, charmed me from the moment she showed up at Madame Blanche’s to confirm whether or not the new proprietor is her old friend. She refuses to take no for an answer and wears Jasmine down enough that she is allowed to visit regularly. Although she has no real sexual experience Sin allows herself to explore what makes her feel good, and even though she has fantasized about James for years she won’t settle for being told what to do or dictated to just because she is a woman. Every moment of her submission is a conscious choice, and her resistance to marrying without a few caveats of her own reveal a young woman who has learned her own mind.
James may have disappointed me some, but the sex scenes between the main couple sizzled (although they had a little less bondage/kink than I prefer). After the first disappointing encounter Sin does have clear choices, and there is sweet sequence where they manage to sneak away from an elderly chaperone to steal an interlude. James still hadn’t redeemed himself in my eyes, and I wasn’t completely sold by the end of the book, but I did see him make small steps to valuing Sin’s ability to make choices.
James’ personality marred a lot of my enjoyment of Tangled in Sin, as much as I adored his heroine. I did ultimately enjoy most of the book, but I wish Sin could have gotten a hero who thought better of women. He does grow some by the end of the story, but I had a hard time letting go of my first impression.
4 Lascivious Regency Portraits out of 5