Seduced at Midnight
Jacquie D’Alessandro’s last two books trod that precarious line between a B- and a C+ for me. Sadly, Seduced at Midnight crossed over that line. While there were a couple of things I was willing to overlook in the previous books in this series, there are just too many problems – among the admittedly good stuff – to ignore here.
Lady Julianne Bradley is an earl’s daughter who has never been valued for anything beyond her ability to marry well and promote the family’s position in society. She has never received any love or positive attention from her parents, but has some very good friends – women with whom she forms a private book club where they read the latest scandalous offering. Their current book is The Ghost of Devonshire Manor, made more exciting by the seeming appearance of a true-life murdering ghost in Mayfair.
Bow Street Runner Gideon Mayne is on the case, and when the ghost/murderer/thief seems to have targeted Julianne, her father hires Gideon to protect her – after all he have to keep her alive long enough to marry the duke he’s betrothed her to.
Gideon and Julianne met two months ago (in the previous book of the series) when he was working on another case and fell instantly in lust with each other. However, being from very different social classes, their paths do not cross often. Julianne helps things along by manufacturing the initial evidence that she is being stalked by the murderer in order to spend some time with Gideon. However, she soon becomes a target in truth.
There is so much lust-think going on here that, for chapters and chapters, it seemed as if that was all there was to the story. It got old and very boring very soon. Once Gideon and Julianne actually started talking and getting to know each other, they had a nice rapport and their scenes were filled with a gentle humor that I enjoyed, and so I came to believe that they cared for each other when all the previous lust-think didn’t convince me a jot.
Alas, the mystery is just not good. Although three titled ladies of the ton are murdered, no one seems to make much fuss, and Gideon seems to be a poor investigator. He spends all his time – day and night – protecting Julianne while others are being killed, then he sends minions off to find clues. His main interrogation technique seems to consist of talking to suspects who ask, “You think I did this?” To which Gideon replies, “Did you?” Like that’s going to work. Columbo he ain’t.
A couple of writing quirks really popped out at me, things I don’t remember being a problem in previous books. D’Alessandro has become very enamored of sentence fragments. She hasn’t crossed over into Stephanie Laurens territory, but that may just be because she groups her fragments into paragraphs whereas Laurens has a paragraph for each fragment. This is a typical example:
Gideon didn’t give her time to think, didn’t give himself time to think, to reconsider. Damn it, he didn’t want to think anymore. Couldn’t fight this raw, raging need any longer. All he wanted was to feel. Her. All of her. Now.
The other writing technique that was used waaaay too much was characters thinking their true responses – in italics – before uttering something else entirely.
“Who is it?” Sarah asked, her face alight with curiosity.
Someone I can never, ever have. Someone who made every other gentleman mentioned pale in comparison. “No one.” No one I can discuss with you. “I’m just feeling unsettled….”
So, while I eventually liked the romance between Gideon and Julianne – once the relationship became more than just hormonal – there were too many other problems in Seduced at Midnight that detracted from the romance and took me out of the story, leaving me with a book I cannot recommend.