Seduced By His Touch
Lord Jack Byron lost a great deal of money in a card game and the only way he can pay up is to marry his creditor’s spinster daughter, Grace Danvers. The father (a mega-rich tradesman) wants the best for his girl, and demands that Jack court her and make her fall in love with him. (Because obviously that would make her happy.) Having no other choice, Jack does exactly that, but he is greatly surprised when he realizes that he’s attracted to her too.
Grace, a shy botanical artist, absolutely cannot believe that Jack Byron, of the famous we’re-not-related-to-the-poet Byrons, wants her, but she accepts it until she eventually discovers his true motivations. Now at this point Grace could have done many things, most of which would result in the book flying across the room and this reader’s eyes flying into her skull. But to Ms. Warren’s credit, Grace reacts with dignity and intelligence, Jack believably grows a heart, and the scales begin to balance between them.
So there’s nothing new here, which means it all comes down to delivery. And, in analyzing the author’s execution, I would classify this book as a BOTOH book – But On the Other Hand:
Grace and Jack. Unlike many authors who give their characters enough background to fill two books, Tracy Anne Warren errs perhaps too much on the side of caution. We are told Grace is shy and lacks self-esteem, but I would have liked to hear more about the experiences that made her so. As for Jack, he comes across as a selfish, conscienceless jerk whose only use for Grace is sex; otherwise he remains a rather enigmatic, shallow hero, defined primarily by his relationship to Grace. BOTOH, Grace is still a sympathetic heroine who learns to stand up for herself, and Jack redeems himself through a dignified, subdued, and prolonged mea culpa during the last 50 pages.
Pacing. This is a character-driven novel that takes place over a year’s time, with no spies or ghosts in the woodwork to mar the flow of the story, and the secondary characters don’t distract from the focus on Grace and Jack. BOTOH, it’s also really, really slow. I’m hard-pressed to remember what happens in between significant events and very little, whether character or plot development, stands out.
Writing. Sadly, this book has a gag-worthy epilogue and some moments that can only be termed torrid. BOTOH, the writing is mostly above average and there are one or two absolutely sublime moments when Ms. Warren exercises her razor and creates sparse, moving scenes where less truly is more. The last few chapters are a good example of this novel’s dichotomous nature – Grace and Jack dance around each other in a poignant, tense state of suppressed emotions until a resolution that brought tears to my eyes, which was then immediately undercut by a cheesy ending that I am doing my best to forget. It is my fervent hope that Ms. Warren’s future books will exemplify the former rather than the latter.
Overall, there are enough missed chances in Seduced By His Touch that I can’t really recommend it. But there are also enough magical moments that I will keep reading Ms. Warren.