a trite start turned tolerable

So… The Den of Iniquity… that’s what we’re here to talk about. It’s the first book in Annabelle Bryant’s Bastards of London series. Don’t ask me how many books there will be in the series because I don’t know and, to be honest, I’m not sure I ever will know. Because this book is… fine. Just… fine. Not anything earth-shattering and not anything window shattering, as in a reader might be inclined to throw it out a window in hatred.

It’s fine.

It starts of with the trite trope of an upper class woman, in Victorian England of course, setting out to ‘reform’ a man who has absolutely no desire to be reformed. Vivienne, said (unmarried) upper class woman, decides to do this in her mother’s memory. I read the book a couple months ago and can’t quite remember what charities her mother undertook, but I did get the sense that Vivienne was bored by simply teaching the poor street urchins and helping prostitutes get off the streets and things.

So she sets her sights on a man who chooses to go by Sin (because his name is Sinclair) who runs a gambling hell (I honestly thought it was a much repeated typo to say hell instead of hall… or meant to further the narrative of Sin needing saving, but apparently it’s actually hell… which is fine).

Anyway, things escalate very quickly to what I noted in my reading journal as “so much smut, glorious smut!”

Not really glorious, though, for reasons I’ll explain in a minute. Suffice it to say, the trope plunges along full-speed as the bastard (he has two partners, so possibly the series is a trilogy?) gambling hell owner falls for the proper, titled girl. She agrees to said smut with surprising quickness (I’m talking first meeting sex), apparently in part because of severe issues with her creepy stepfather/guardian.

Things are not smooth sailing for Vivienne, though, thanks to the creepy stepfather/guardian and the clingy, puppy dog love her best friend’s brother has for her. And she just wants Sin!

I mean Max. He wants people to call him Sin, to be known as that, but Vivi (as he calls her) refuses and calls him by his Christian name, I suppose you’d call it. All in the name of Bad Boy Reform, of course.

Back to the not so glorious smut. It’s fine. Very steamy and hot. I am not, however, the reader who likes my smut best if it seems like the author used a thesaurus to exhaust all the different words, scientific and slang, for human genitalia during a sex scene. I know what parts go where and why. And some words just make me cringe. And that takes something away from the story, in my humble opinion.

There is, however, a breathtaking line in the book that makes up for some of the folds and shafts and things.

…don’t ask me to share my soul when I’ve only just opened my heart…

The end of the story is good, if rushed and a little unbelievable race of fistfights, daring rescues, more sex, and wedding plans all in the space of a day or so.

Den of Iniquity was a fun book, more fun still I imagine if you don’t have my sex words hangups. I might read more of the series. I might not. Only time will tell.

(Thanks to NetGalley and HQ/HQ Digital for the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest and original review.)

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