How To Seduce a Bride
Edith Layton’s How to Seduce A Bride is burdened with a cheesy title, but on the whole is a well-written book with a very pleasant hero and heroine. I enjoyed it very much, although it got off to a terrible start.
It’s not too often that I stop reading and run to the library, but I did right at the beginning of Layton’s latest. When Daisy Tanner comes from Australia to London, she takes a room at a residential hotel, then goes to visit her good friend Geoffrey Sauvage, the Earl of Egremont, who had also been an inmate at the prison colony. Geoffrey tells her she must find a house for propriety’s sake and offers to send over a realtor to help her. Realtor?! REALTOR!? In Regency England?! I threw the book down and ran to the Oxford English Dictionary where I found the word realtor was first used in 1916. Bad author, bad editor, bad choice of word. But I read on hoping to recapture the mood.
It didn’t take too long before I was back in the reading groove. Daisy Tanner’s father was a feckless man who lost his estate gambling. When he took to poaching his neighbor’s game, he and Daisy were sentenced to exile at New South Wales. On the ship over, Daisy’s father let her be married to Tanner – one of the guards – so that she would not be gang raped. Tanner was a brute, but he was hard working and stingy with his money, so when he died, he left Daisy quite well off.
At Geoffrey’s house, Daisy meets his good friend Leland Grant, Viscount Haye. Lee is tall, thin, and foppish and at first Daisy thinks he prefers the company of men, but she soon finds out about his rakish reputation. Daisy’s plan is to marry Geoffrey. She knows him, likes him, and thinks that since he is an older man he will treat her like a father or brother and not subject her to sex, at least not too often. Her boorish husband left her with a deep distaste for physical contact. Geoffrey isn’t interested in marriage, but he asks Lee to take Daisy under his wing, introduce her to Society, and find her a nice husband. Lee is at first suspicious of Daisy’s intentions toward Geoffrey, but it doesn’t take too long before he is enchanted with her himself.
The charm of this book is not in the story as it is one that most romance readers will have read before. It’s the characters and the writing style that make this book such a treat. Lee is charming, witty, and a generally nice man. He had horrendous childhood with an absent father and cold, promiscuous mother. Neither parent cared for him at all, and he has vowed to be everything that they were not – a caring father, a faithful husband, and a kind companion. What makes him special is he’s not exactly the usual tall, handsome well-built hunk. Lee is more like a scarecrow, being tall, thin, and at first glance somewhat awkward. I liked him immediately.
Daisy is also an atypical heroine. She was a convict and had been in a brutal marriage, but she isn’t tortured, cynical, or brooding. Daisy is basically an optimist who looks forward to a better life. Yes, she has problems with sex and intimacy, and Lee is exactly the kind and decent man she needs to help her realize that intimacy doesn’t have to hurt.
Other than the dreadful misuse of realtor and a few times when the characters referred to gender (this is a modern use of the word – back then they would have said sex), I thoroughly enjoyed How To Seduce A Bride. Don’t let the cheesy cover and cheesier title put you off. This is good stuff.