Bound for Sin is the second of Tess LeSue’s Frontier of the Heart series. Set in the same dusty ye-olde West as its older sibling, Bound for Eden, Sin is a fun, smart, historical romance. Widowed, broke, and desperate Georgiana Bee Blunt advertises for a capable frontiersman for the purposes of matrimony. Her late husband has left her with a gold claim that is attracting all kinds of unwanted attention from all kinds of men. As a result, the eldest of her five children has been ransomed, which leaves Georgiana under the thumb of some extremely unsavoury characters. Matt Slater, the younger brother of Bound for Eden’s enigmatic love-interest Luke, finds himself saddled (no pun intended) with the task of transporting her and her rambunctious brood across the desert.
LeSue has a talent for characterisation: the laconic and grouchy Matt is a perfect foil for the prim and proper, Georgiana. Georgiana’s many children are also rich and delightful little people. The henchmen of the sinister Hec Boehm provide at times comic relief and tension. A particular delight was the return of Deathrider, a Native American from the first novel. His sharp wit makes him an extremely good verbal sparring partner for Matt. This novel is heftier than most romances but its characters are home to much more interior life than your standard Mills and Boons Western, which makes the trade-off much easier.
Plot is another of LeSue’s skills: she has crafted a Shakespearian-like series of charades and miscommunications that is both funny and clever. The reluctant deal struck between one of the henchmen and Matt, wherein Matt would pretend to be engaged to the leading lady and then break it off with her once they reached California, making room for the henchman as the obvious next choice as her new spouse had me laughing out loud. It’s also obvious LeSue did her due diligence with research – the characters spend almost too long arranging supplies and wagons for their long sojourn to California, particularly if you, like me, have already read Bound for Eden, which has a similar plot structure. I also found that the delicate slow-burn romance between Georgiana and her new frontiersman fiancé got a little bit lost in the novel’s high stakes drama and funny antics. Although, that said, LeSue definitely makes you root for the two to have a proper happily-ever-after.
Words by Riana Kinlough