An aristocratic widow in need of a baby propositions an infamous club owner in the fourth Sins for All Seasons novel.
Aiden Trewlove, one of the many illegitimate children of an unethical earl, never intends to risk pregnancy with any woman. So when Selena, the Duchess of Lushing, arrives incognito at his Elysium gambling club, he feels an electric attraction but only imagines a brief affair. Her bold request to sleep with him, however, conceals a plan that will test his strongest principle. While her motive elicits sympathy for her and the financial vulnerability of women, particularly Victorian ones, her targeting of Aiden is discomfiting, as it is based on self-serving assumptions similar to ones associated with sex workers. Their insta-lust, which is meant to make more palatable her rush to get him into bed, does not improve the plot. When she confesses her true intentions out of guilt, Aiden agrees to join in her scheme for reasons boiling down to low self-esteem. Though secret baby plots are fairly common, this novel isn’t sold on its own premise, and the compressed duration of the relationship makes it hard to believe in the romance even by the genre’s flexible standards of realism. Heath (Scoundrel in Her Bed, 2018, etc.) tries to counter this with long passages of each protagonist’s point of view and the couple's sexual encounters, but this only pads out an idea that might have been better suited to a novella. Selena’s siblings, who drive her actions, seem like outlines, as do Aiden's (though the latter are familiar figures in the series). Aiden’s biological parents fare no better even though they have distinguishing traits, serving mainly as plot devices to prolong the suspense of how the couple will conquer the alleged hurdle to their happiness. The epilogue only makes the barrier look even more of a straw man in hindsight.
A story of marrying status to wealth to consolidate one’s immediate family’s advantages.