The Skull and the Nightingale captured my attention when it claimed that it fell in tradition with Liaisons Dangereuses and echoed The Crimson Petal and the White, which just happens to be one of my favorite novels of all time. I must say, with such grand references, I opened the book with high expectations. If I had a red pen, I would go back and cross out all literary comparisons along with the words, 'chilling,' 'deliciously dark,' and 'exciting.' Thus, leaving the not so captivating blurb of, 'A literary novel of manipulation, sex and seduction set in eighteenth-century England.' That accurately depicts what you can truly expect from the book.Much of the story is communicated through letters sent between characters. A few italicized letters would have added a creative element, but by using this continued mode of delivery throughout the novel...well, it becomes tedious, limits POV and kills any active tension. Several times a recap of events (out of necessity) is repeated in letter form. Sure, some detailing is left out to show the withholding of intimate details, but I certainly did not want to read any scene twice.There is potential for the plot. I believe it has all the bones needed in the basic structure for it to live up to the adjectives given, but unfortunately, the more exciting, urgent period drama twists were not taken. Half way through the book I was convinced the godfather was a sociopath, which would have been fabulous, but the old man abandons his strangeness toward the end. It turns out he's just another eccentric pervert. In fact, all the quirky characters are domesticated rather easily or written off completely. The author took the least imaginative path for the 'twist' and to my disappointment, made the plot a touch predictable. The sexual scenes consist of aggressive grunting and border on descriptions of rationalized rape.If you've read the novels mentioned above, you might find this one to be as satisfying as a tepid cup of tea.