A Season of Seduction
Much as I applaud any attempts to break the hero mold in romance, sometimes the execution just doesn’t work for me. Jack Fulton in Jennifer Haymore’s A Season of Seduction is not Your Usual Hero on several accounts, but he failed to capture my heart, and even paired with a strong heroine, the couple’s story never raised more than my lukewarm interest.
Lady Rebecca Fisk, whose fortune-hunting husband died after a short but deeply unhappy marriage four years ago, plans to take a lover. Her choice has fallen on Jack Fulton, a younger son who has recently returned from an extended stay abroad, and who seems just the perfect partner for an affaire: suave, flirtatious, and definitely not interested in anything serious. She couldn’t be more wrong. Jack is being blackmailed, and to gain access to Becky’s dowry, he plots to get her to agree to marry him as quickly as possible.
Matters are sped up when they are caught in a highly compromising situation – you’d think. Here comes what I liked best about this novel: the heroine. Becky is usually shy and lacks self-confidence, but when she strongly feels action is called for, she is not afraid of burning bridges, but shows great courage and determination. And she doesn’t whine afterwards, but abides by the consequences even if they are unpleasant.
Unfortunately, Jack comes across as both weak and manipulative. Yes, he likes Becky from the moment they meet, so seducing her and persuading/tricking her into an engagement is no hardship, and of course he falls for her rather quickly. But his wooing, while charming, is altogether calculating. Giving in to the blackmailer’s demands makes him appear rather naïve, as well. What guarantee is there that the demands will stop, or that the blackmailer will carry out his threats anyway? Especially as he’s clearly mentally unhinged. Jack changes, but I was not able to erase the rather bad impression I had gotten of him during the first half of the novel.
The secondary characters, with the exception of Becky’s larger-than-life brother and her and Jack’s cynical friends, remain shadowy, and there’s very little feel of the period. The sex scenes were hot, but what’s the point if you don’t like the hero? The ending, at least, is no cop out but fits realistically with what has gone on before.
I should like to point out that although it starts in autumn, A Season of Seduction ends as a Christmas romance with quite a bit of the expected joyful gatherings and pretty decorations. Just so you know what to expect. It should also be noted it is the third volume in a trilogy. Although it stands on its own well enough, and the recapturing is actually fairly smoothly done, if you are considering to read the whole trilogy, I strongly recommend you begin with A Hint of Wicked (an added bonus being it’s a better book).
While I can’t particularly recommend A Season of Seduction, it might be for you if you like strong but not feisty heroines. I am not done with Jennifer Haymore, though, as I like usually her voice. But I hope that her next book will appeal more to me than this one did.