Enticed is a historical romance that perhaps should have been marketed more towards those fond of mystery/romance hybrids. The solving of mysteries, murders and conundrums is such a dominant part of the story, not to mention the heroine’s life, that falling in love feels casual in comparison. But what could have been a good mystery romance is weighted down by convoluted speechifying.
Lady Pandora Featherstone upholds a career as a confidential inquiry agent, and is currently employed by Colonel Massingale to investigate the origin of some objects from the New World. This puts her in contact with Chance True-Son, Duke of Rivenoak, who is investigating a massacre of his mother’s people some twenty years ago. The colonel is found dead in the library and Pandora and Rivenoak team up when they begin to realize that their separate mysteries are as entangled as their emotions have become.
The mystery in Enticed contains many levels and kept me guessing to the very end. Pandora and Rivenoak are less multi-layered, and share a tendency to state things, rather than show them to the reader. Still, they are willing to love and trust each other, even if they get a bit prosy at times. The world and time in which the mystery and our couple is set is not disturbed by having a single female investigator being the custodian of her brother’s four children, even when she has another brother. Neither is it much bothered by a Duke who practices shamanistic rituals in a tent in his park, or the Duke’s uncle who prefers his tribal costume.
So, Enticed features a good mystery in a historically light setting, with a cheerful couple to solve it. What keeps the read from being charming, in spite of the setting, is the heavy use of flowery or even purple prose. The characters don’t talk so much as make statements, even at the most intimate of moments. I’m impressed with Pandora’s eloquence during a rising orgasm, when she exclaims:
Please, Rivenoak. I feel enlightenment is upon us.
Another gem is when she refuses to marry Rivenoak for the umpteenth time, beginning her statement with the words:
I will not be threatened or bullied. I am, after all, a woman who prides herself on her independence.
The consistent overuse of the word “conundrum” and the phrase “confidential inquiry agent trained in deductive logic” grew somewhat tiresome halfway through the read. It is not likely that the reader would forget about the mystery even when not reminded every other page.
The heavy prose kept me from enjoying the romantic aspects of Enticed. I’ll freely admit I appreciated the problem-solving enough that I’ll look around to see if Ms. Blayne has written any romantic mysteries, rather than romances, whether historical or mystery. For the reader who is less bothered by writing style and who enjoys mysteries, Enticed could well be enticing.