In this final volume of a quartet of Georgian romances, Christian, the handsome but eccentric Marquis of Easterbrook and the eminence grise of the first three books, finally finds a woman whose company he can tolerate for more than a couple of hours at a time. Even if he has to almost kidnap her ...
The quartet, set om the late 1820's consists of
1) "The Rules of Seduction
2) "Lessons of Desire
3) "Secrets of Surrender
4) This book, "The Sins of Lord Easterbrook"
This book begins as Leona Montgomery, who with her younger brother has inherited from their father a shipping business in the Far East with interests in Macao and Canton (Guangzhou), has arrived in London. Her main purpose is to seek business partners to enlarge and secure the future of the company. However, she has also inherited from her father a horror of the profitable but illegal trade smuggling drugs into China.
Leona believes that a ring of highly placed people in London involved in this trade were also resposible for sabotaging her father's business and ultimately for his death: she wants to expose them and bring those who are still alive to justice. One the people she suspects was involved is the late Marquis of Easterbrook, father of the three brothers who are the heroes respectively of the first, second, and this fourth book of the series.
When Leona meets the present Lord Easterbrook, she is astonished to find that he is someone she already knows ...
Christian, Marquis of Easterbrook, has a number of unusual gifts which can also seem like a curse. One aspect of this is that he finds it very difficult to put up with the company of any other person, for more than an hour or two, which is why he has a deserved reputation as an eccentric recluse. It seems almost too good to be true when almost the only woman he had ever met to whom this did not apply arrives in London. But the Rothwell and Montgomery families (Lord Easterbrook's family name is Rothwell) have more history than either of them realise ...
This being the last in the series, a number of ongoing loose ends are tidied up, including the marriages of a number of characters in the series who didn't quite rate a book to themselves.
An author's note at the end gives a short description of the real historical events surrounding the trade in Opium to China and how it led to a war which is one of the most disgraceful events in our history.
I refer to these books as Georgian romances rather than regency ones for two reasons:
(i) they are set after the Prince Regent had ascended to the throne as George IV
(ii) they are more "modern" in tone and plot than the style associated with the term "regency romance."
In particular these books are rather less focussed on the intricate style of the "ton" as high society in London was known in the late 18th and early 19th century and more on the emotional development of the relationship between the main romantic protagonists. They are somewhat ahistorical in that these books understate the disdain of the more noble families in the land for earning a living through "trade" e.g. anything other than owning vast tracts of land. And they contain rather more sex than is normal for the regency romance genre.
Amazon reviewers have criticised one or two recent novels by Stephanie Laurens, a prolific writer of romances set a decade or so before this book, for containing too much sex for their taste. If you are one of the readers who agreed with this criticism of "Bastion Club" novels such as "The Lady Chosen (Bastion Club)
" you will probably think the same problem applies to "The Rules of Seduction." By the same token, if you like the Bastion Club or Bar Cynster series there is a good chance that you will like this book.
Although this is a modern romance set in the 1820s rather than a historical romance, it is reasonably entertaining and well crafted. The complex plot is extremely implausible, but it was possible to suspend disbelief and enjoy the book.