Lessons in Seduction
Lessons In Seduction is the first in a trilogy about three sisters who were abandoned as children, but rescued and raised by the kind Lady Greentree. I enjoyed the story, but didn’t find the characters particularly likable.
Vivianna Greentree is a passionate reformer. She has never forgotten her experience as a lost and homeless child, so she sponsors an orphanage at Candlewood, a large, comfortable home leased from Lord Oliver Montegomery. Recently, Oliver has told the ladies who run the orphanage that they will have to move since he wants to tear down Candlewood. He has another home where they can move, but they want to stay at Candlewood, and they ask Vivianna to talk to him. He is quite unmoved by her pleas, since he has a very personal reason for tearing down Candlewood. Oliver’s brother Anthony was murdered in the house. Oliver knows who did it and he knows that there is evidence somewhere in Candlewood that will convict the murderer, but it is in a secret room which he has been unable to find. Oliver swears he will take the house down brick by brick if he has to get his hands on it.
Oliver may be unmoved by Vivianna’s plea for the orphans, but he is not unmoved by his attraction to her. She is attracted to him as well and follows him to Aphrodite’s – a fashionable brothel. She asks Aphrodite to give her some advice on how to bring Oliver around to her point of view. Aphrodite agrees to tutor Vivianna, but warns her to guard her heart. But it’s too late – she has fallen in love with Oliver despite all her good intentions.
The story in Lessons In Seduction is an interesting one, and the secondary characters help keep it moving along at a good pace. The Victorian setting is a nice change of pace from the usual Regency-set historical romances, and I was very pleased to see Queen Victoria and Prince Albert make an appearance in the book. The mystery elements in the book are not very mysterious; I knew who Vivianna’s real mother was the minute she appeared, and I knew who would find the evidence against Anthony’s murderer as soon as they appeared. But there are still some loose threads left over which I am sure will be taken care of in the other books.
Oliver and Vivianna are a nice enough couple, but I didn’t really bond with them. Oliver is a fake rake, acting like a drunken dissipated man about town in order to force his brother’s murderer out in the open. At one point, when Oliver’s fake rake act is exposed, Vivianna tells him she doesn’t love him since he isn’t a rake. Vivianna spends almost all the story going her own way, not giving a damn about society’s expectations for a woman of her class. Then when she finds out the truth about her parentage, she decides that she is Not Good Enough for Oliver and must do the noble thing and withdraw from his life. This was such an obvious example of forced conflict that it belongs in the Bad Writing textbook.
Despite the not-so-likable main characters, I still enjoyed Lessons in Seduction for the interesting story and the intriguing secondary characters. I know Vivianna’s sisters will get their own stories as well, and while I had problems with this installment, I am just intrigued enough to check them out. If you like romances with a bit of mystery and you like the Victorian period, you might try this one.