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The Theory of the Leisure Class (Modern Library Classics)
Thorstein Veblen, Alan Wolfe
Slightly Sinful - Mary Balogh In Slightly Tempted, the aristocratic Bedwyn family is rocked by news of Lord Alleyne Bedwyn's death at Waterloo. While searching the battle's casualties for saleables, Rachel York (a well-born woman left penniless by her father's gambling&drinking) comes across Alleyne's body, already stripped by other scavengers. But he is not dead, just gravely injured. Rachel carts his limp body back to the brothel where her old nurse works, and she and the whores nurse him back to health. But Alleyne, alas, has lost his memory completely, and is afraid that even if he were to meet his own family he wouldn't feel anything for them anymore. Rachel and the whores, meanwhile, gave all their money to a clergyman who proved to be a conman, and are torn between getting back to business and getting revenge on him. Alleyne comes up with a plan to both postpone his own search for his identity and solve the women's money problems: he and Rachel will pose as man&wife to finagle Rachel's uncle into giving them her late mother's jewels. The whores pose as gentlewomen and servants in order to accompany them, and they all set off for England.

But when they reach Rachel's uncle's estate, their hare-brained scheme turns even more complicated. Rachel's uncle is very ill, and he asks that Rachel and her companions stay with him for a month. While the whores and Sergeant Strickland get the uncle's estate into order, Rachel and "Jonathan Smith" have to maintain their masquerade as husband&wife. A masquerade that is all too easy to perform in public--and all too tempting in private.

The first few chapters are a fun intro to Rachel and the whores, who have a lot of personality to start with and then fade into the background for much of the novel. The last few chapters are a triumphant confrontation with the conman/clergyman (in which the whores shine like crazy vindictive diamonds) and FINALLY the reunion of the Bedwyn siblings. The reunion was all I could have hoped, particularly in regard to my favorite two Bedwyns, Freyja and Wulf. But most of the novel is just basic Balogh fare: a few hurtful misunderstandings heightened by lack of communication between the love interests, the standard sex scenes, several realizations of how important family members have been in the past, and of course, a waltz at the ball. I wish Rachel and Jonathan/Alleyne had more personality, because even though I just finished the book a few hours ago I've already half-forgotten them.