Posted by: Jennifer | September 15, 2007

The Taste of Innocence – Stephanie Laurens

Laurens, Stephanie. The Taste of Innocence. (New York: William Morrow, 2007). 9780060840860.

Main Characters: Sarah Conningham and Charles Morwellan, the Earl of Meredith

Date: 1833

Series: This is part of Stephanie Laurens’ Cynster Series. This series includes Devil’s Bride, A Rake’s Vow, Scandal’s Bride, A Rogue’s Proposal, A Secret Love, All About Love, All About Passion, The Promise in a Kiss, On a Wild Night, On a Wicked Dawn, The Perfect Lover, The Ideal Bride, The Truth About Love, and What Price Love?

Related Works:  Lady Osbaldestone makes an appearance – a character who shows up in both the Cynsters series and the Bastion Club series. More significantly, Malcolm Sinclair, originally from the 5th Bastion Club novel, To Distraction is the mastermind behind the railroad investment scheme that plagues Charles and Sarah. Sinclair also appeared in the 6th Bastion Club novel, Beyond Seduction.

Description from the book jacket:

When New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens creatd the world of the Cynsters, she introduced readers to the glittering ranks of aristocratic British society, where arranged marriages are the norm for securing dynasties, where passion is an art practiced by sophisticated lovers and highborn mistresses, and love is a potentially dangerous indulgence.

For no gentleman is this more true than Charles Morwellan, the eigth Earl of Meredith. Although he’s seen the many successful unions of his Cynster connections, he has also watched his father’s obsessions nearly destroy their family and fortune, a mistake Charles will not repeat. But as Lord Meredith he must marry, so he offers for Sarah, the daughter of his neighbors Lord and Lady Conningham. She’s intelligent to grace his arm, and old enough to know the value of his offer.

For most young ladies of the ton, the right marriage is the culmination of years of training, perfect deportment, and intricate plans that would impress a general. But as a lady of independent means with a life of her own, Sarah is unwilling to wed unless it is for unbounded love.

But Charles always gets what he wants. He convinces Sarah to give him to weeks to win her; if he succeeds, they will marry immediately. And so begins an intense courtship. By day, Charles and Sarah are models of decorum indulging in innocuous walks, polite conversation, sedate waltzes. Each night they steal away to the lush, moonlit gardens, where sensual embraces turn to searing kisses, and much, much more. Both are swept away on a tide of passion and feeling neither can resist.

And yet, after the wedding, despite nights of insatiable passion, Charles remains aloof, as if the near-sinful sweetness of their nights exists only in a dream. Sarah battles to prove that true love is a force that can’t be contained, a gift worth fighting for, but it’s only when she’s engulfed in a web of increasingly dangerous incidents that Charles discovers how much he’s willing to surrender to protect . . . the taste of innocence.

My Thoughts:

I love almost all of the books in both Laurens’ Cynster and Bastion Club series (I can’t wait to read Dalziel’s story), the Taste of Innocence included. This volume begins with Charles Morwellan acknowledging his need to marry. While he is pondering his situation as a 33 year old unwed earl, he passes by Conningham Manor – home to Sarah. Very quickly, Charles decides that it is Sarah that he wants as his wife. Sarah, unprepared for a proposal, tells Charles that she needs time to get to know him. The agree to a two week courtship. During the courtship, Charles wooes Sarah, is attentive to her, shows interest in her endeavors and seduces her with passion. During this time, Sarah comes to believe that Charles does indeed love her. As such, She agrees to be his wife – and event that is quickly arranged due to Charles’ impatience. Throughout the second half of the novel, Charles struggle with his need not to demonstrate his love of his wife. He decides to go his own way during the day, and only indulge his feelings when he and Sarah are alone in the bedchamber. Charles is forced to rethink his plans when it becomes clear that Sarah and her orphanage are in danger. Charles cannot help but realized how much he has cut himself off from Sarah by distancing himself so thoroughly from her.

I admit that the appearance of Malcolm Sinclair threw me for a loop – after all, I had just read the latest Bastion Club novel, Beyond Seduction. At first, I assumed that the Taste of Innocence had taken place before Beyond Seduction. However, I realized that Malcolm is much older in this Cynster novel. I had to go back and look at the chronology of all of Laurens’ titles. One of these days, I’m going have to re-read all of these titles in the order they take place rather than the order they were written!

Charles and Sarah had an interesting journey in this story. I have to admit that their two week courtship was fairly routine. Their story didn’t really suck me in until after they married and after Charles decided to withdraw from his wife. I found this part of the story more captivating and more enthralling than the beginning. This is where I started to get engrossed in their relationship.

The whole situation with Malcolm Sinclair and his attempt to force Sarah to sell the orphanage’s farm was a bit odd. Having read Laurens’ earlier works in which he was the villain, I knew he was the mastermind behind the land schemes as soon as Barnaby Adair explained the situation to Charles. I was bothered by how much time Malcolm spent with Charles – and how well they got along. Laurens offered mentioned how similar they were. Malcolm was acutely aware, and bothered by, the tense situation between Charles and Sarah as newlyweds. He seemed a bit too involved. None of the characters had any warning or clue that he was the responsible party until he revealed it. Of course, Malcolm was somewhat involved – and was personally bothered by the tension between the newlyweds. In the end, Malcolm risks quite a bit in order to “help” Charles overcome his problem and acknowledge his love for Sarah. That seemed a bit creepy to me. Malcom was a bad guy who was involved in white slavery, but in this novel, Laurens’ showed a softer and gentler side of Sinclair – one that I would have preferred not to have seen.

First read on September 14, 2007



  1. […] Series: This is part of Stephanie Laurens Cynster Series. This series includes Devil’s Bride, A Rake’s Vow, Scandal’s Bride, A Rogue’s Proposal, A Secret Love, All About Love, All About Passion, The Promise in a Kiss, On a Wild Night, On a Wicked Dawn, The Perfect Lover, The Ideal Bride, The Truth About Love, What Price Love?, and The Taste of Innocence. […]

  2. I haven’t read this book but i am about too since all of you make it sound interesting

  3. I adore Stephanie Laurens’ books!!!!! They are definitely worth a read.

  4. I think she was showing a more grown up version of malcom
    The potential person he could have been. After many years he grew up cause if I remember correctly he was very young when he first appeared

  5. Greate post. Keep writing such kind of information on your site.
    Im really impressed by your site.
    Hello there, You have done an incredible job. I’ll definitely digg it and in my opinion suggest to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited from this site.

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