Seduced by the Soldier
Seduced by the Soldier is just fine. It’s fine in the way you’re fine at the end of the day when absolutely nothing of note happened. It’s fine in the way you’re fine when someone asks you in passing how you are and there’s nothing to report. However, since this is a review, I’ll be a little more specific about what is ‘more fine’ and ‘less fine’ about Seduced by the Soldier.
Zandra York is in Europe for her “first real assignment” as a photographer. She’s traveling through Germany and Switzerland, photographing chocolate shops, glass blowers, and goats. If you’ve ever seen the television show The Amazing Race, in which each episode revolves around contestants visiting a city/country and engaging with its specific cultural and historical attractions, then you are basically envisioning Zandra’s trip. Her companion in this was supposed to be her brother, but he ends up sending his best friend Blake Monroe, the soldier of the title, to join her.
Our heroine is fine. Zandra is ‘to the manor born’, and has decided to follow her artistic heart away from accounting, which doesn’t make her especially relatable or remarkable, but she’s alright. Occasionally her monologues about her passion for her work sound like a non-profit mission statement instead of the thoughts of a real person. My main pet peeve with her (which I shared with our hero) was her affinity for social media. Yes, it’s a business tool, but I didn’t like how she ends up including Blake in her livestreams for her project – it felt like she was using the development of their private love story as a way to earn attention and money, which I found rather nauseating.
Our hero is fine. Blake is a special forces officer, but he wants to be a lawyer and avenge his father, who was killed while intervening in an assault when Blake was a child. He has a habit of thinking about his ex-girlfriends in a way that’s on the arrogant side: he imagines them as clingy divas, but it seems all they ever did was “insisted on candlelit dinners at some fancy place”. He also has the superbly annoying tendency to use the word “deep” as a synonym for “profound” or “intimate”. (“Woah. That was pretty deep shit for someone on a sort-of vacation”; “this was getting way too deep”, etc.)
Blake and Zandra’s chemistry is slightly above average, although their sex life is in that ‘fine’ category. The first time they have sex he’s inside her for a single paragraph and yet they still end up panting away. However, it does get better (for the reader and, it seems, for Blake and Zandra) and the little details involved, like how he gets her a towel after, have a level of realism that was unusual. Honestly though, Blake’s description of a chocolate penis he sees in a candy shop (“veins on it looking like they were going to burst, and complete with a stream of white chocolate cum running down the side”) stuck out to me more than any of Zandra’s impressions of Blake’s penis, so make of that what you will.
The ending also is a 100% Happy-For-Now. The main conflict of this book is how a woman who wants to travel for work and a man who wants to stop traveling for work can be together, and Ms. Alexander doesn’t really have an answer to the conflict that is either romantic or believably satisfying for both hero and heroine. But honestly, I’ve never read a romance with that type of conflict (including Penny Reid’s wonderful Truth or Beard) that does successfully deal with how to make a long-term happy ending in that context.
Seduced by the Soldier is the book equivalent of talking about animal videos on YouTube at a family holiday dinner – unlikely to offend anyone, but unlikely to impress anyone either, though it might provoke a smile or two.