Sinner – a Novel – Toni V. Sweeney
Reviewers: She Said – Gloria Lakritz / She Said – Penelope Adams
Deroes kan Ingan, the stubborn and strong-willed Margrave of Arcanis, has eluded all attempts to get him to marry, and never intends to fall in love, but then he meets… Elizabeth Sheffield.
Spoiled, beautiful and accustomed to getting her way with men, Elizabeth professes love for and weds Deroes, privately calculating the benefits of marrying the ruler of a galaxy. Unexpected obstacles derail her plan – most significantly, Deroes’ nephew (and former heir), Aric.
Taken from his mother at age twelve and raised as the heir to the Arcanian throne, Aric bitterly rebuffs Elizabeth’s overtures of friendship. Events take an unexpected turn when he falls in love with his uncle’s wife.
While Aric and Elizabeth begin a passionate affair, other forces in the kingdom are plotting rebellion and murder… using Aric as a less-than-innocent pawn.
2 Years running – 2nd Place: Best Sci/Fi Series
PRG 2012 & 2013 Reviewer’s Choice Awards
Gloria Lakritz – she said:
First let me say, what a wonderful first entry for a new series. Toni V Sweeney, this is not the first book I have read of yours, and I like your style. I adored The Wizard’s Wife and Bride of the Beast immensely, so I looked forward to another story, to wit you did not disappoint.
Deroes kan Ingan is the Margrave of Archanis; a planet very far from Terra which simulates our Earth. In this story we are many centuries into the future. People of Terra are called Milkies to the Archanians, because we are from the Milky Way.
The kan Igan family has ruled over 3000 years and can trace their bloodline to the first kan Igan ruler. Archanis has a caste system, and looks down at planets that let people marry whom they want and do not hold their beliefs. Deroes travels to Terra on a mission to meet with the Terrans and innocently meets beautiful, spoiled Elizabeth Sheffield. He has already given up on having a partner and a family, and has named his young nephew Aric as his heir. This meeting changes all of their lives dramatically.
When Deroes invites a contingent to come to Archanis and nudges The Elders to add Elizabeth to the invitation, he swiftly courts her and asks for her hand in marriage. She is no fool, and although engaged to another, has no qualms by saying yes. Deroes is much older than she, although the kan Ingans age well.
She is introduced to Aric, who at the age of twelve, was snatched from his mother’s home to be groomed by The Elders as the next heir and Margrave. Aric is tall, handsome, arrogant, and carries himself as all the world is beneath him. Now is future has been snatched from him by this milkey. How would you feel?
Ms Sweeney has written a wonderful story of love, lies, deceit in all it’s ugly glory. The POV is handled with such skill between Deroes, Elizabeth and Aric.
I loved Deroes as a leader, he was kind and fair-minded, which I felt would do him in with the purists. The Elders would not wish to see him taint the kan Ingan bloodline and marry an outsider. It made me squirm when he became enthralled with Elizabeth to the point of obsession. Is that what happens when a 5o year old marries a 20 something???
I quite understood Aric’s behavior at meeting Elizabeth. Imagine you lost everything because your Uncle fell in love… I probably would not have been nice either. After all this time, having to decide what you would do with your life, now that the plan you’ve had for the future since you were 12 was taken off your plate, is hard to swallow. Elizabeth was something though. I did not like her, and my thoughts did not change throughout the book. She did not disappoint, although at one point, I did feel sorry for her.
As usual, Ms Sweeney has cast this story in a setting of fantasy / science fiction and yet it does not over power you. It really is all about the cast she has created to spin this exciting story. There are many other side characters you get to know, and some like the vicious Elders you wished you didn’t. Aric’s mother and boyhood friends Kimi and Eby were wonderful additions.
Since there is a sequel, and it is ready to be read, I am happy to pick up Exile. Hope you will as well…
Review by Gloria Lakritz
Review Chair and Sr Reviewer for the Paranormal Romance Guild
Penelope Adams – She Said:
Deroes kan Ingan is the Margrave of Arcanis, a self-proclaimed bachelor who plans to stay that way. Deroes has decided it’s time to undertake a diplomatic mission to the planet Terra. His advisors are not happy, but Deroes will not be swayed from his mission. How was Deroes ever to imagine that what seemed an innocent diplomatic mission, would lead to marriage, treason, and the loss of one of his own beloved family members.
While on Terra, Deroes meets young Elizabeth Sheffield, a southern belle who is a teaching assistant at the University of South Carolina. For Deroes, it is love at first sight, for Elizabeth it is a way off Terra and a way into a completely different life. Much to the dismay of Deroes’ council, Deroes decides to marry young Elizabeth and make her his queen.
Deroes’ nephew Aric, who Deroes had previously designated as his heir, is none too pleased about the current turn of events. Determined to dislike Elizabeth on principle alone, Aric goes out of his way to make life difficult for her, and makes no apology about how he feels about his uncle’s upcoming marriage.
Elizabeth and Aric are natural enemies from the first moment they meet. These feelings burn and fester as time passes. Imagine their utter surprise, when they actually fall in love with each other and begin to have an illicit affair. The stage is set for disaster. Is it possible for anyone to come out the winner in this battle of love and desire?
Ms. Sweeney takes us on a journey to a different time and place, and gives us a varied and interesting cast of characters to guide us on this journey. Written between, Deroes, Elizabeth and Aric’s point of views, we get different sides to the same story and get to see how the drama unfolds from all sides. All three of the main players in the story are richly fleshed out, and we get to know them so well that the world they live in seems real.
In most stories you have the good guy, the bad guy; the hero and villain, all of whom you recognize almost immediately. Ms. Sweeney has given us a story where the lines between good guy and bad, hero and villain are blurred and not easily discernible.
Deroes is a good leader; he understands his duties and follows them right up until it comes to his love of Elizabeth. I would go so far as to say he is obsessed with her, possibly to the determent of his country. There were times I liked him, times I felt sorry for him and times I felt he really just needed to look closely at this woman he has fallen so hard for.
Elizabeth – oh what to say about Elizabeth – she was spoiled, she wanted what she wanted, and didn’t mind doing whatever it took to get what she wanted. I had a hard time liking her and must admit, I never did truly warm up to her.
Aric was at times the bad guy, the way he treated Elizabeth in the beginning was unforgivable, and at other times I got the sense that he is truly a man that cares about his country, and only wants what is best for it and his family. Like Elizabeth and even Deroes to a certain extent, Aric could be self-centered and arrogant.
I enjoyed this book, but even through the end had a hard time warming up to the principle characters, which made my enjoyment in the story a little tainted. I’m assuming since the title of the book is Book One, that there is a sequel in the works and I’m a little stumped as to how Ms. Sweeney is going to bring together the issues from this book. We are left with a little bit of a cliffhanger, but it makes sense and didn’t leave me with the feeling that I was missing something and some cliffhangers often do.
There are a few unsettling graphic scenes where Aric’s family curse comes to the forefront, but they fit into the story. There are some love scenes, not too graphic, but enough detail is there that makes this most definitely not a YA book. Science fiction and fantasy lovers will enjoy this book, as well as anyone who just likes a good journey of love and political intrigue.
Review by Penelope Adams
Member of the Paranormal Romance Guild
Now that the reviewers have read each other’s thoughts…
Good evening Penny. It has been a while since we last met. Sinner by Toni V Sweeney is the book we are reviewing, and I must admit I was quite taken with this story. Ms Sweeney seems to write historical, paranormal and now has a touch of science fiction/ fantasy in this one. We both found Elizabeth troublesome… I loved Aric even though he was what he was, handsome arrogant and full of himself, and I almost liked Deroes much of the time too.
All three of the lead characters kept me on my toes, I would bounce back and forth as to how I felt about Deroes and Aric. Elizabeth I never could warm up to. I did find myself warming up to Aric more and more as the story developed. I actually liked Deroes in the beginning, and then by the end just wanted to slap him. Ms. Sweeney’s characters are never boring that’s for sure. I’m beginning to really look forward to each book she submits, just to see what genre she is going to throw at us next.
I liked Deroes at the beginning. He was a fair sovereign, had a good head on his shoulders UNTIL he met Elizabeth… Then What happened??? Silly me, a middle age man falling for a 20 something young woman??? What was I thinking???
Aric on the other hand was what I expected, young, arrogant and full of himself. I agree that it is such a pleasure to have Ms Sweeney submit a book to review. In the words of Forest Gump, the PRG is like a box of Chocolates and we never know what we will bite into… But if it has Toni Sweeney on it… It will be sweet!!!
Ha, that was a good one! I wasn’t sure what we were going to get, and I’ll admit I was a little apprehensive, you know me and science fiction, but I was pleasantly surprised. I will say it started a little slow for me, but boy when the story got going I was totally intrigued. I fell in love with this world and these characters. Kudos Ms. Sweeney for bringing me into your world.
Good night, Gracie.
Yes Thank you Ms Sweeney for inviting me in as well! What is the saying “you had me at hello?” Looking forward to more!!!!!
Goodnight Georgie…see ya soon when we meet for Book 2: Exile.
Q&A with Author Toni V. Sweeney:
Both Reviewers did not like Elizabeth from what you read…Was that what you wanted?
Definitely! Elizabeth is a beautiful, scheming, b…. She’s always manipulated men, from her faculty advisor up to and including Aric. In the beginning, he’s the only one who sees her for exactly what she is. He only falls for her because he recognizes some of his own deviousness in her but, unfortunately, once he gets into her clutches, he starts glossing over how deceitful she is, and that’s his fatal mistake. When it comes right down to it, everything that happens is more or less Elizabeth’s fault in the next four books is Elizabeth’s fault..
The ebb and flow of the three main characters… was it all in your original plans, or did they make their own story?
I originally had Deroes as a minor character, just to bring Elizabeth and Aric together, but as I got into the story, I realized he was going to play a much larger part, than simply a man betrayed by the two people he loved. I also tried to keep Aric from being too much of a spoiled, whiny brat by having him suffer the devastating injury that makes him from a pretty boy to being a man overcoming a disability.
What most do you like about writing this genre?
I get to build my own world the way I want it, and people it with whomever I please.
Will you have off shoots of other characters mentioned in this book? I seemed to hear you started a story about one in Blood Seek.
Actually, Bloodseek, in the Chronicles of Riven the Heretic, came first. There are 5 novels in that series, and it was only later that I decided to tell the story of what happened to the empire that Riven helped build, which is the empire Aric inherits. That series sets the scene for the kan Ingan Archives by more or less explaining why they believe what they believe and act the way they do.
Thank you for joining us in this Q&A. We truly enjoyed your book and look forward to your next submission!