My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...
Sarah Ballance’s Sins of Salem series has gotten better by the installment. As usual, I loved the setting and the story telling in The Sins of a Few. If only not for the h, Faith, I think I’d have a grand time cruising through the story.
The Sins of Salem series is set at the backdrop of the disgraceful Salem Witch Trial and aftermaths that the inhabitants of Salem were left to endure. In all that chaos, love and the slow building of trust, became parts of the entire healing process for these people. I’ve heard of the witch trial before but it was only after I started this series that I was inspired to read and find out more about it; the trial, why it all begin, how people were executed without any option to defend themselves... even the supposed, more recent, haunting of the Salem Witch House. Entertaining when you watch those paranormal shows but no less sad when you think of those people who suffered so much.
Book 1, Her Wicked Sin, was based on the village’s midwife plus healer Lydia, an attractive widow having a secret past. She found herself entwined in a web of lies concocted by a vindictive busybody of the town, who later helped spreading the gossip about her being a witch. When the most influential family of the town, The Abbott’s daughters begin ‘seeing things’ that were making them ill, Lydia was one of the first people they suspected just because she once attended the girls. Lydia was convicted through a farce of a trial, then thrown in jail, awaiting execution. She was, at that time, being courted by a mysterious young man, who later turned out to be the son of a wealthy nobleman, Henry. It was later with his explicit help that Lydia was freed, secretly, in the dead of the night, with a promise to never to set foot in Salem again. Henry and Lydia got married and start living far away from Salem.
Book 2, An Unexpected Sin, told the story of Anne, a young friend of Lydia’s who was a secondary character in book 1. Anne’s childhood sweetheart Josiah, who left town quite a few years ago, suddenly returns. It was in the middle of the witch trials and Josiah is shocked to find the town drenched in total disarray. He returned only for Anne, to see if she’s still single and would have him. Though their reunion was a happy one, the next series of incidents shook them to the core. Besides that, Josiah has always blamed himself for a tragedy in Anne’s family. He had idea what Anne’s elderly parents would make of his intentions for their daughter. Thankfully, after some ups and downs, all were resolved for them. Josiah gradually becomes the son that Anne’s parents needed, the helping hand to take care of their fraying business; a small store in the town. I really loved this one because of its friends-to-lovers theme. I always felt that Josiah and Anne were meant to be.
The Sins of a Few reminded me much of book 2. The h, Faith and H, Nathaniel, knew each-other since childhood, but one can’t stay that when they grew apart, it was on good terms.
It’s been 4 years since Nathaniel left Salem to find his place in the world. Being the only son of the Abbotts should’ve smoothed his way in this town, yet Nathaniel’s shallow and cold parents never saw him for the man he always wanted to be. Because he didn’t want a future in farming, his father even threatened to disinherit him. But Nathaniel had the support another family that cared for him; Ruth Downing’s. Ruth, an elderly widow, always harbored affections for Nathaniel, like the son she never had. Ruth lived with her elder sister, the widowed Felicity and her only daughter Faith. It was because of Ruth that Nathaniel actually had the basic schooling and the encouragement that he needed to start anew somewhere far away.
Even then, Nathaniel wanted Faith, who was couple of years younger than him. But he knew it was too soon. Faith had the same feelings for him, but they never got around to express it, not only because of their young age, but also Nathaniel’s abrupt departure from Salem that left Faith hurt. She has always blamed Nathaniel for leaving them, her, alone and helpless. Now she blames Nathaniel for Ruth’s death as well.
The Sins of a Few takes place a couple of months after the initial hangings and the disbandment of the so-called witch trial court. People are trying to move on, but how can they when the wound is still so fresh? The Abbotts are the main culprits but no one can do anything to them because of their wealth and the power they wield around here. Faith’s aunt Ruth, a religious woman who has never harmed a soul, was convicted by the same Abbott girls. Unfortunately, she couldn’t be saved for there was no one to help her. No wonder Faith blames Nathaniel because she believes he could’ve saved Ruth.
At this point, when Nathaniel returns, things have quiet down a little. He doesn’t know anything about the trials or that his sisters and parents are to blame. He hears everything the moment he arrives. Nathaniel is upset, uncertain but mostly, he’s very sad learning of Ruth’s hanging; the only woman who was close to a mother to him. Then he remembers Faith, the reason why he returned, with a secret hope to finally make her his. But it seems fate has other plans for them and that it’s not going to be easy, or pleasant for that matter.
True to his thoughts, he’s not welcomed by Faith. Though Felicity welcomes Nathaniel, Faith is livid. How dare he set foot in their humble little abode after everything his own relatives did? What the hell was he doing when Aunt Ruth, alongside the other victims, were hanged so mercilessly? Faith tries to humiliate Nathaniel, but because of her mother, she has to restrain herself. Nathaniel, on the other hand, tries his best to pay his respect, stating he had no idea what was going on, least of all that it was his own family who were behind it. That he has come straight to Ruth’s house, rather than going to own first. Besides, it’s not as if he’s welcomed in there anymore, something that is proven as the stark truth when Nathaniel is late, he’s forced to spend the night outside. Not even his belongings were taken in by his parents. I mean talk about being mean!
At his house, Nathaniel is brings up the forbidden issue, hoping for some answers. Yet he got cold response from his mother, blank stares from the elder girls. His father, however, is kind of a$$hole. It was a gossip widespread around town, as Nathaniel finds out later, that his father got a maid of his home pregnant. She later died in childbirth. Maybe that was the reason why he deigned to put up this farce, so that his own sins are buried under this. For now, Nathaniel can’t imagine why would his innocent sisters (the youngest is like 8 or so yrs. old) do such a thing! Among 4, though he’s not very close to the eldest girls, Deliverance, the youngest, is his ‘itty bit’. It was very much apparent that he’s an affectionate elder brother. He doesn’t know what to do or think but the barrister in him asks him to take an objective role. But one thing Nathaniel knew that he’s not welcome in his home any more than he was before, so he returns to Faith’s, who is still angry at him.
I assumed Faith was just uncomfortable to find that she still has feelings for Nathaniel and that she can’t fight it with anything. His big, strong body and golden good looks have never failed to astonish Faith, all in a good, shivery way. It’s rather a mystery that those Abbotts had made a specimen like him. Faith knows Nathaniel has always been different. He has never let his parents influence him, like they did his poor sisters. He’s really not to blame for what happened, but no matter, her irrational anger doesn’t subside. Because he made Felicity better than she had felt ever since Ruth’s death, Nathaniel finds a place at a corner of Faith’s home.
Nathaniel has already made it known to Faith that he’s here just for her. Though Faith doesn’t think there’s any possibility of them being together, ever, she’s no less thrilled by the looks he sends in her direction or his flirtations. It’s obvious that he has become quite worldly in these past years and that doesn’t sit well with our Faith, all the while trying to convince herself she doesn’t care at all. She immediately assumes that Nathaniel is a womanizer, and starts poking him with this every time they were alone and he’d mention his intentions. Then she also assumes that Nathaniel can’t stay in one place for long, which means he’s going to leave Salem anytime soon. But Faith isn’t going anywhere leaving her mother alone, another reason for her not to even consider his proposal. I have no idea why she kept assuming things where he was concerned without even giving him a chance to explain. It was rather frustrating to see Faith doing a gross disservice to her name by showing so much antipathy towards Nathaniel when he did everything in his power to prove his adoration, acknowledging what his family did was unpardonable.
Nathaniel though, had a plan and he’s not letting Faith slip away. When he cautiously approaches Felicity for her permission to court Faith, he’s absolutely taken aback by her support. He thought he had his work cut out, yet Felicity had the wisdom borne of years of experience. She still saw the little boy and that teenager who used to grace her home. She knew in her guts that Faith would be in good hands. Felicity was actually very happy about this match. Wish I could say the same for Faith but I can’t. Though she lets Nathaniel kiss and touch her secretly, she’s again, quite livid knowing Nathaniel has ‘gone behind her back’. I mean... *sigh* I wish she’d be true to her own self and admit that she wanted, needed Nathaniel. I say it because I adored this guy. It seems the heroes of this series are generally great guys. And they are the ones who fall in love first, then spend their time trying to prove themselves to their lady loves. Nathaniel was no different. He, IMO, was the sexiest hero in the whole series. Faith had no chance of escaping his intensity or his single-minded pursuit of making her his wife.
Faith keeps frustrating me with her lack of faith in Nathaniel over and over again in the course of the story. I thought enough is enough when the following happens. Nathaniel approaches their landlord to buy the house Faith is living in. He knew she wants to stay there, and wanted to make it permanent. Nathaniel doesn’t lack money. He expects nothing from his father, so it was all his hard-earned, working abroad as a barrister. He can afford it, he’d would do anything to make Faith happy. Unfortunately, the landlord’s sleazy son had an eye for Faith. The a$$hole knew of Nathaniel’s pursuit of her, and has been trying everything to muck things up for him. This time, he succeeds because he thought he had the upper hand; a swift eviction notice for Faith and Felicity.
Though Nathaniel begins searching for a new home around Salem for a fresh start, he doesn’t tell anything to the ladies, knowing it’ll only cause discord among them. But he’s worried about Faith’s reaction. I’d say he was correct in doing so, the way she had been blowing all hot and cold towards him. In the meantime, Nathaniel has managed to woo Faith enough for her to accept him. They end up making love one night which resulted in a handfasting too. My point was, this guy was trying his utmost best to help this girl and she’s livid, again if I might add, when that sleaze comes up to her one day and informs of their eviction notice, with relish blaming Nathaniel for it. Faith instantly trusts that guy and I couldn’t believe it! To her, Nathaniel has ‘betrayed her trust’ by again ‘going behind her back’. Now they don’t have a home to live in, which equals to Faith ditching Nathaniel without giving him a chance to explain. Yet once again. Then she even begins considering that sleaze’s equally shady marriage proposal just so she can stay in that home. I mean what???!!! WHAT??????? That was like... Ugh! Even Felicity saw through Faith’s idiocy. She expressed her disappointment in Faith and her rash decision later in the story. I’d say Nathaniel deserved someone much better than her.
The story takes a dramatic turn when Nathaniel tries to set the wrongs that were done to the people of Salem by officially convicting his family. He was angry and heartbroken over Faith’s words but he keeps himself away from her. This was, probably, his way of trying to set things right between them as well. Somehow I knew he was thinking of Faith first and foremost, as he always had.
When Felicity’s words struck home, Faith begins to see the futility of her attempts of keeping Nathaniel at bay. It was clear that she was just being obtuse, willfully blind to the fact that Nathaniel is the best thing that’ll ever happen to her. I was glad that after that ‘chat’ with her mother, Faith finally found enough courage to acknowledge her own feelings. Next, it was only a matter of time that she found Nathaniel too. Nathaniel’s endeavor, IMO, helped smooth his way too. In the end, it was all about forgiveness with a pledge of moving forward to the future.
As you can see, I had only one big complaint in this whole story, and that was Faith’s jumping into conclusions where Nathaniel was concerned. I know that in the beginning she had a valid reason to resent him but that doesn’t mean I have to like what she did after everything he did for her and her mother. Apart from that, I enjoyed the rest. It was fast paced and flowing. Personally, I’m a little disheartened knowing that this is the last installment of the series, as I was hoping the series would continue. 4 stars.
This ARC was provided to me by Entangled Scandalous via netgalley which didn’t influence my review and rating in any way.