Kaitlin O’Riley – “One Sinful Night”

20 Sep

O'Riley, Kaitlin - One Sinful Night
GENRE: Romance / Historical
PUBLISHED: Zebra Books, 2008

WHY THIS NOVEL: I liked O’Riley’s voice in When His Kiss Is Wicked and wanted to try more of her novels.

Scandals Are Forever

At sixteen, Vivienne Montgomery was utterly unprepared for the scandal that erupted when Aidan Kavanaugh abruptly left Galway for London, abandoning Vivienne to her ruined reputation. Ten years later, Vivienne has a new life, far from those who know of her past–until she and Aidan are both invited to a weeklong house party.

Aidan Kavanaugh never forgot the magical summer he and Vivienne shared, or the betrayal he felt on finding her in another man’s arms. Since leaving Ireland, Aidan has embraced his duties as Earl of Whitlock, including impending marriage to a young lady who will be the perfect wife in every way but one: she is not Vivienne….

Days and nights in close quarters quickly erode Vivienne and Aidan’s reserve, leading to breathless trysts that are as passionate as they are dangerous. For others are determined to keep them apart. And if one week is not enough to undo ten years of mistrust, Vivienne will lose her reputation–and her heart–all over again…

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was a bit wary of finding out that Vivienne’s beauty is the only reason Aidan is in love with her and that a five-minutes conversation could have cleared up why they broke up. I was wrong on the first account – there’s a lovely chapter that tells how Vivienne and Aidan meet and fall in love – and while the second might not be cleared up in a five-minutes conversation – well, actually I think it should – it was still aggravating.

Why couldn’t Aidan trust Vivienne?

You see, Vivienne and Aidan have known each other for a long time. They met when they were around ten and they were friends ever since before they fell in love one summer and progressed to being lovers. When Aidan finds Vivienne in the arms of another man (boy), he leaves. First Vivienne and the man, and then, shortly later, Ireland. He doesn’t give Vivienne a chance to explain what happened although she tries several times.

He’s hurt and in shock to find Vivienne with another man. He feels betrayed. And because he is young, it’s probably somewhat understandable that he deals with it by not dealing with it at all and that instead, he leaves the country and thinks of Vivienne as a scheming, lying bitch who was only interested in his money and (newly acquired) title.

My problem with that is:

  • He’s known Vivienne for a long time. They were best friends before they were lovers.
  • Even ten years after he saw Vivienne in the arms of another man, he’s not able to be reasonable and logical about the incident. In fact, he still prefers not to deal, think and talk about it at all.
  • After knowing Vivienne only for a few days, one of the villains in this books, Jackson Harlow, says this about Vivienne:

    But no, he did not believe it was in her character. Admittedly, he did not know Vivienne all that well, but he just had a sense that she was a moral and honorable woman. He’d never met a woman of such a noble character that he was so physically attracted to before. (242)

So I found it extremely difficult to refrain from wishing Aidan was real so that I could give him a good whack on the head. One moment that looks like Vivienne is unfaithful erases years and years of friendship and trust? What an idiot.

No talking to further the plot

There are other instances where things don’t get mentioned and they move the plot along in a more suspenseful and dangerous direction.

There’s Finley, Aidan’s valet, who keeps a vital information back even though he and Aidan developed a friendship over the years and they were so chummy with each other, it actually made me think it sounded rather unlikely for that time period.

And there’s Aidan who tells Vivienne to stay away from Jackson Harlow because he’s dangerous. Of course, he doesn’t explain why he thinks Harlow dangerous. He just expects Vivienne to fall in line with his command like she’s a child. One sentence would have been enough. In fact, that sentence would have helped the mystery subplot (Aidan suspects Harlow of sabotaging Aidan’s business but he can’t prove it) immensely. But no.

Is the novel bad because of that?

That’s a question I often struggle with a lot of novels. Just because I would have not much patience with Aidan in real life and I think him an idiot and jerk and just because I think the means that propel the plot forward (“misunderstandings”) are flimsy, easy, and weak, does that mean the story is bad?

I actually can imagine that some people would react like Aidan does (immature) or that Finley didn’t talk sooner even though I would have. A bit more difficult to swallow is probably the reason Aidan’s mother hates Vivienne and the lengths she goes to keep them apart because, well, I’m not all that clear about what the reason actually is.

But then, Aidan’s mother stays true to her character and prefers to go into exile instead of having to see Vivienne and Aidan together at the end of the novel. There’s no magical forgiveness here. And there’s also the mirroring of a vital scene at the end of the story and this time, it goes totally different than the first time. I like these kinds of repetitions because they often show what’s different at the end compared to the beginning.

What remains is that despite my impression that I’m actually not sure what Vivienne saw in Aidan except in the flashback chapter about their childhood (what a turnaround!), and some rather detailed explanations of motivations and feelings, I enjoyed reading this novel. I think O’Riley is a good writer and I like her voice. She managed to make me not care too much about the more convenient coincidences of the plot (I think the detailed explanations help here). And Vivienne, for all that she sometimes seemed a fool because she didn’t tell Aidan to get lost, is often able to see things clearly:

“You know exactly what I’m talking about. You will make me miserable, make us miserable. You will never trust me or believe in me again. You will hold Nicky Foster over my head and torment us both with what you think happened. You can never forget what you think you saw, and because of that, you will never give us a chance. We can never be at peace together. Are you ready for that?” (277)

I liked that.

And then there’s always the wonderful chapter that tells about how Vivienne and Aidan fell in love. So overall, I liked One Sinful Night and I’m looking forward to reading another novel by Kaitlin O’Riley.

Verdict: I would like to say 4/5 (it feels like it) but since I often asked myself what Vivienne saw in Aidan now (it’s clear that Aidan cares about Vivienne no matter what he says, but still, most of the time, he is a jerk) and this novel is a romance, I have to say 3,5/5.


6 Responses to “Kaitlin O’Riley – “One Sinful Night””

  1. nath Monday, September 21, 2009 at 9:31 pm #

    I guess this is the perfect example of strong writing, but weak plots or idea. It’s unfortunate, but it happens. Still happy that you ended up enjoying the book. See me, most of the time, I don’t think too much and don’t question their action too much LOL. Most of the time…

    Is this one related with When His Kiss Is Wicked? I bought that one, but still haven’t read it.

  2. Taja Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 8:26 am #

    nath – Yes. For example, I thought it unfortunate that the baddie knew Vivienne was an honorable character right away. It really drove home the point how HUH? Aidan’s reaction was. It gave the villain more depth (what I liked) but it also hurt Aidan’s character.

    “See me, most of the time, I don’t think too much and don’t question their action too much LOL.”

    – See me, I think you do. *g* I think of you as one of the more “tough” reviewers and I already worry what you’ll think when/if you read When His Kiss Is Wicked! (which is not related to One Sinful Night) πŸ™‚

  3. nath Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 4:26 pm #

    LOL, then perhaps subconsciously, I do notice these things, LOL πŸ™‚ but it wouldn’t be like you analyzing during reading. I don’t know… I know that some consider me a tough grader, but I never thought much about it… I just go with how I feel πŸ™‚

  4. Taja Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 8:20 am #

    nath – I hope you know that I didn’t mean “tough reviewer” in a negative way, I just wanted to express that I think you’re not afraid to say when you don’t like something (and grade accordingly). I appreciate that and your reviews very much. πŸ˜€

  5. nath Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 7:09 pm #

    Oh no, I didn’t take it negatively! Don’t worry πŸ™‚

  6. Taja Friday, September 25, 2009 at 1:15 pm #

    nath – I didn’t think so but I wanted to say it anyway. πŸ˜€

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