Only Seduction Will Do
Holy cats, y’all, is this book not a standalone. If you have read the previous House of Pleasure books and enjoyed them, there is no reason to believe you won’t enjoy this one, but if you, like myself, have not dipped into this series, Only Seduction Will Do is not the place to start. I had no idea what was happening, who was connected to whom, why people were making the decisions they made… and even once I kind of wrapped my brain around it all, I was still so annoyed at not understanding things that I couldn’t really enjoy the book.
I try very hard in my reviews to think about readers who could potentially enjoy whatever title I’m writing about, or where other readers could disagree with my reviews. I endeavor to be a time-saver above all else; if you were thinking about maybe picking this up but wasn’t sure, it’s my job to give you an insider track on it to help your decision. All of that is to say that this review was really hard to put together from that perspective because I have absolutely no idea if the confusion was mine alone, or if would be a universal experience for those who haven’t read the series prior to this installment.
Alethea Forsythe is pregnant. Problem: she isn’t married, but the baby’s father is. In a desperate attempt to cover up this indiscretion, she pleads with Jack Fitzwilliam, the Earl of Manning, to wed her immediately. Chivalrous to his core and because they’ve known each other forever and because Other Reasons I Never Quite Understood, Jack agrees, but only if their marriage is a public show but not a private one. Alethea is disappointed, for she’s been in love with Jack for years (even though she managed to get herself knocked up by someone else), but agrees. One must think of the baby, after all. Although for another strangely unexplained reason, Jack doesn’t seem to worry about the fact that, if it’s a boy, another man’s child will be his legal heir. Once they move in together, hi-jinks and drama both ensue as these two stumble their way to their happily ever after.
The most interesting thing about their relationship is the sexual role-reversal from most Regency books – Jack is a virgin hero. I did feel his inexperience and lack of knowledge stretched the bounds of incredulity – I mean, there’s making the choice to remain chaste until marriage and then having less knowledge of the act itself than nuns would – but it was a nice change of pace.
Before I close this review, I must offer a slightly spoiler-y trigger warning. This book contains a miscarriage. While it’s pretty sensitively described, it still happens and is still present on the page. I have not, personally, gone through that traumatic event, but love many women who have. I would not recommend they read this book without foreknowledge and thus feel obligated to give it to you as well.
Overall, Only Seduction Will Do hasn’t necessarily put me off Ms. Jaxon’s writing, but it has put me off this series. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for a fresh series launch from her and see if that changes my tune for future works.