Sarah Ballance’s latest is a charming historical–read all about it!
Book Title: An Unexpected Sin
Series: Sins of Salem #2
Author: Sarah Ballance
Release Date: 4/14/14
Genre: Historical Romance
The moment the stranger’s dark eyes meet hers, Anne Scudder’s world is immediately overthrown by chaos. That single flare of desire is immediate, driving away all notions of propriety. Instead, Anne is consumed with sinful thoughts—ones that no unmarried girl should ever have for a man who isn’t her husband…
But Josiah Cromwell is no stranger.
It’s been six years since Josiah stole kisses from Anne, his best friend’s younger sister. Six years since Josiah left after his best friend’s death, burdened by the knowledge that he was responsible for destroying Anne’s family. Now he’s returned to claim the woman he can’t live without. But even as their desire threatens to consume them both—body and soul—the dark workings of suspicion and witchcraft are afoot.
Because in Salem, too much passion can lead a woman to ruin… and condemned to death.
It’s official; I just really enjoy Sarah Ballance’s writing. This is my first full-length novel from her–I read her novella Ruby Hill last fall and loved it (very creepy and atmospheric; with a delicious lovers-with-a-past theme), so I jumped at the chance to read her historical–especially once I realized it was set in a time and place that’s always fascinated me–colonial Salem, during the witch hunts.
Unlike a lot of other books set in the same time and place, the characters in this one aren’t directly involved in the trials, though they definitely have an impact on much of what they do, both in the novel’s past and present. The hero and heroine of book one in the series, Her Wicked Sin‘s Lydia and Henry Dunham, are in here just enough to make me need to look up their book and make sure it’s on my TBR. (It was–I bought it back when it was released for the same reasons I wanted to read this one. It’s moving up the pile as we speak!)
Anne Scudder’s situation is a little unusual–she’s her parents’ only surviving child in a community where her best friend ‘s family is more the norm–eleven children and one more on the way. She had an older brother, once–but Samuel died in an accident six years earlier. Now Anne helps her aging parents run an inn in town and has no real interest in marrying–at least at the moment–though she knows that a steady, strong husband could do much to help her family’s situation…caring for the inn is rapidly becoming more than her father can handle.
At a house raising for a local newlywed couple, Anne and Prudence spot a newcomer. His handsome face and strong build strike both girls immediately, and both feel that he is somehow familiar. Prompted by the flirty Prudence to bring the stranger a drink, Anne soon learns that he is actually Josiah Cromwell, her brother’s best friend–all grown up after a six year absence.
As teens, the two had shared several forbidden kisses back before tragedy had torn them apart, and they instantly realize that the spark between them hasn’t been diminished by the passage of time.
Enter the conflict: Josiah blames himself for Samuel’s death, and he worries that the Scudder family will as well. Anne doesn’t realize his guilt, thinking they just both share a common grief, but she fears that the reminder Josiah brings will turn her parents against him and his suit. Josiah takes a position as a hired man at the inn, hoping to show his worthiness through his actions. He’s not exactly living a lie–he does give his Christian first name–but he doesn’t reveal their shared past to the elder Scudders.
Mrs. Scudder seems predisposed to dislike him, though, and warns Anne repeatedly not to spend time with the hired help. (Obviously, Puritan mothers didn’t have access to all the fine parenting information and advice that modern parents do, or Susannah Scudder would know that she was practically guaranteeing something was going to happen between the two. 😉 Though, really, it was clearly going to happen anyway. They had a history…and it’s a romance novel. That’s how they roll.)
What follows is a sweet story about love lost and found, and characters who must learn to forgive themselves–and others–and come to terms with their past so that they can learn to embrace the future. An all-around enjoyable read!
Rating: 4 stars/ B+
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
Sarah Ballance is a multi-published author of contemporary, historical, and supernatural romance and romantic suspense. She’s been married to her own romantic hero for what he calls a “long, long time” (and no, he’ll never hear the end of saying that). Together they have six children … and clearly too much time on their hands. She currently writes for Entangled and has upcoming releases from both Entangled and Samhain Publishing.
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