by Brenda Joyce, historical (2012)
HQN, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-373-77655-8
Seduction will surely appeal to readers who want to test their pain threshold. The heroine, Julianne Greystone, is a naïve and weak twit, while the hero, Dominic Paget, is stupid and cruel. Pair these together and the result is a spectacular tale of the hero constantly treating the heroine awfully for 374 pages. This book is great training material for folks who wish to graduate to sleeping on a bed of nails or other things that will help them attain enlightenment through self-inflicted suffering.
Dominic is a British spy working to crush sympathizers of the French Revolution in England, although his activities in this book consist solely of chasing after women and brooding away like an emo idiot. His comrades seem to be the ones that do all the work, but maybe Dominic's real work is so super-secretive that the author can't even reveal it to the reader. Anyway, he gets badly wounded one day and is rescued by Julianne's brother, who proceeds to dump him on Julianne before this brother heads off to get his own sequel set up.
Julianne is a very gullible but idealistic young lady who helps found the Society of Friends of the People in her Cornwall town. She is taken in by the ideals of freedom and equality of the Revolution, you see, and she believes that this country could use a dose of such lofty ideals. When Dominic starts muttering some French phrases while tossing around in his sick bed (right before he kisses and molests her in the trademarked Pawing the Heroine is Okay when the Hero is a Sick Blathering Idiot scene), she immediately "realizes" that he's on her side, a valiant crusader who must be wounded while trying to fight the oppressors. She is already making wedding plans when he decides to seduce her for no reason other than he insists that he has no morals. He intends to lay low until he recovers, and then he will depart without a word, but since he knows that Julianne is besotted with him, what's to stop him from taking advantage of her infatuation, right?
Oh, and he discovers that she openly supports the lovely frogs of France. Despite knowing that she's a naïve little girl, Dominic leaps to the logical conclusion that Julianne openly leaving evidence of her support as a sign that she must be a traitor to the country! And yet, that doesn't stop him from seducing her anyway, because he has no morals, et cetera. And then, when she discovers his deception and kicks him out, he spends the story mooning after his fiancée. Yes, he's engaged to another woman. Meanwhile, Julianne ends up in London, and as predicted, ends up getting into all kinds of trouble. Look, she is thrown into jail! Dominic, despite hating all traitors, decides to save her anyway because he likes getting into her pants. He knows that she is not the smartest person around and she is easily manipulated - heck, he does that to her all the time - and he knows that she unrealistically believes that the French revolutionists are heroes just because they talk a lot of equality and what not. He also knows that she clearly doesn't have the heart to go through the things her compatriots are willing to do to bring the Revolution into England. And yet, when he feels that she has betrayed him, he judges and condemns her as the evil incarnate, just to prolong the conflict for another excruciating hundred or so pages.
Stupidity also infects the secondary characters in this book. For example, Julianne's brother lets her stay with a wounded man, alone, for over a month, and then he's shocked - shocked! - when he realizes that she's given her precious virginity away to the cad. What a genius!
This story is a painful read, because Julianne is so hopelessly out of her depths, a victim to her own infatuation with Dominic as well as to the manipulations of the people around her. Also, Dominic is an idiot whose opinion of Julianne goes from the idiot he'd like to boink to the whore incarnate, depending on, I don't know, the phase of the moon or something. This story also presents a garbled pro-monarchy message that is absolutely hilarious, mostly because (a) this story is written by an American author to preach the joys of a government system that even her own country does not adopt and (b) the message is delivered by Dominic, the privileged Earl of Bedford. This is nothing more awful yet funny than a womanizing Earl (who announces that he has no morals) telling a common woman that the common class has no right to envy the upper classes, as these upper classes are necessary for law and order. Does the author even read her own story and realize how patronizing the whole preaching is?
Seduction has a truly hateful couple who deserves each other only because it will be cruel to inflict them on another person. Were not for that slapped-on happy ending, I'd have thought that this is a bitter tract designed to turn readers off the idea of connecting with another human being ever again. Why is this published as a romance novel again?
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