Master of Sin
By Maggie Robinson
Release Date: March 27, 2012
Andrew Rossiter is a male prostitute who is paying a return visit to Duca Allesandro di Maneiro and his wife. Rossiter, who fathered the couple’s heir, two-and-a- half-year-old Marco, has been hired to impregnate the duchess a second time. The key players are on board the duke’s yacht when assassins board it, killing the duke and duchess. Andrew escapes with the child, but knowing his son’s life remains in jeopardy, he establishes a new identity on an isolated island in the Outer Hebrides. Andrew Rossiter has become Andrew Ross, a widower with one child.
Waiting for him on the island is Gemma Peartree, an impertinent sprite who speaks six languages. Their meeting is unpropitious. Gemma has been waiting on the island for two weeks. The house Andrew has purchased through agents is in disrepair, Gemma’s possessions have been lost, and the island is cold and wind-blown. Gemma badly needs a bath and a change of clothing. When Andrew first sees her, she looks more like scullery maid than a governess. Andrew is eager to be rid of her. Not only is she not governess material, but also the inexplicable attraction he feels threatens his vow to put sin behind him. More important, Marco, who has been ripped from all that is familiar to him, forms a quick attachment to Gemma, who is gentle with him and the only person on the Gaelic-speaking island who speaks Italian. And, as Gemma keeps reminding Andrew, she has a contract.
Both Andrew and Gemma are haunted by their pasts and protective of their secrets. Andrew’s past is more deeply shadowed than Gemma’s. His angelic looks are ironic in view of his sordid secrets and the dark forces that shaped him from childhood. He believes himself incapable of giving or receiving love and unworthy of happiness. It will take all Gemma’s stubbornness and all her wiles to persuade Andrew that he has a heart that can be filled with love for her and for his son, to convince him that a future untainted by the past is within his reach.
Redemption stories are among my favorites, and this one is superb. First of all, it truly is about a man in need of redemption. Readers familiar with Mistress by Marriage will know that Andrew Rossiter is no titled hero suffering from a guilty conscience over wasting his substance on drink and doxies. He is, as Gemma recognizes full well, “a man who had done everything with everybody.” But the most fertile ground for love’s redemptive powers is often found in the hearts of those who believe themselves unfit to be redeemed. Second, both Andrew and Gemma grow during the course of the book. Revelation of secrets sheds healing light, and the love they feel for one another and for Marc frees them to become more fully the selves they were meant to be.
This final book in Robinson’s Courtesan Court series is a dark story, but it is also one filled with flashes of humor and seductive sensuality with characters who compel the reader's interest. It has the added benefit of Robinson’s lucid, skillfully crafted prose. If you’ve read Robinson’s other Courtesan Court books (Mistress by Mistake, Mistress by Midnight, and Mistress by Marriage), you probably have Master of Sin on your TBB list. If you haven’t read Robinson yet, what are you waiting for? Master of Sin can be read as a standalone. And I’m betting that you’ll find these books the verbal equivalent of Lay’s potato chips: bet you can’t read just one.
How do you feel about redemption stories? What are your favorites?