Seduction In Mind
by Susan Johnson, historical (2001)
Bantam, $6.50, ISBN 0-553-58254-2
How nice. Maybe her recent super-duper book contract with Kensington must have given her a new muse, but Susan Johnson's latest, Seduction In Mind is meatier than any of her recent Bantam offerings. It's still pretty tame when compared to her pre-1995 hotties, but at least this time there is some attempt at telling a story. Even if it's a story veteran Susan Johnson fans can close both eyes and still map out in a few seconds.
We have another one of those philandering oversexed rakes, this time around it's Samuel Lennox (I do know a Samuel Lennox in real life, and he's a really devout Catholic, believe it or not), Viscount Ranelagh. He spends his free time gambling (and winning, of course), boinking, and whining about how boring life is. He is also a widower, his first wife a major slut with a capital S. Apparently she drives our hero into his own slut career, what a evil woman, huh? Uhm... whatever, dear.
Our hero has an obsession. See, there's this female model in this nude painting, and he can't get her out of his mind. He wants to meet her, and we all know how nude models are, right? They must be easy. So imagine his surprise when Alexandra Ionides turns out to be a widow who refuses to play his game (at least until page 75, that is). She even runs charities, of all things, so she is not his type, definitely.
So they go around in circles until page 75, and then the clothes fly and our lovebirds don't seem to come undone ever since. Okay, that's the plot. That's it. I can talk about the hero's ex-mistress and the heroine's possessive but harmless admirer and some scheming debutantes wanting to get their claws on the hero (this one puzzles me, because let's face it, our hero is one easy cheap gigolo, so what's the problem here?), but these are nothing more than half-hearted attempts by the author to provide some relief from the perpetual boinkings going on.
Fine, let's just take the plot as the courtship till page 75 and from thereon it's a long, long honeymoon fun show. But at the same time, the sex isn't even fun. There's some fun involving a paintbrush, but I don't know, the author has done better in the past. Compared to the author's most varied and interesting backlist, the perfunctory in-and-out going-on in Seduction In Mind is like a meaningless quickie compared to the best the author can do.
Hence, when I think of it, I don't really see much point in Seduction In Mind. The plot is blah, the sex is blah, everything is blah. Mundane and unexciting, oh, the magic is gone.
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