Seduction in Mind
It all started with a sexy painting. . .
Jaw droppingly handsome Samuel Lennox, Viscount Ranelagh is heir to a fortune and stinking rich in his own right. He’s also a widower. But don’t cry for him because she was a major time hussy. Disenchanted with marriage, he has become a womanizer of the first order (or what I’d call a pig). He feasts on different feminine flesh nearly every night and his reputation and prowess is legendary. When the story begins he is drooling over a nude painting and is determined to find the luscious model so he can indulge in yet another night of debauchery. Surely a nude model would be open to a night of passion, hmm?
Alexandra Ionides, the Dowager Countess St. Alans and Mrs. Coutts (I’ll just call her Alex from here on out) is a thirty year old childless widow (two times over) who has inherited a vast amount of wealth. She values her independence and the freedom it allows her. One of those freedoms, of course, happens to be posing in the nude for artists she respects.
Sam quickly locates Alex who just happens to be posing in the nude. He bursts into the male artists’ home, ogles Alex’s drool worthy bod among other things*, proves his virility by getting an enormous and very obvious erection and wastes no time informing her of his intentions towards her. She turns him down and tells him she is independent and has no need of the likes of him and his rakish ways. He is stunned. Several minutes later he and his colossal hard-on finally take a hint and leave. Lets see – he’s been insulting, rude and has displayed slightly odd behavioral traits (*I don’t know about you, but taking a good look at the artist’s crotch to see if he’s also excited rates highly on my “odd” behavior scale even for a jealous alpha-man). Geez, how on earth could any lady resist this charmer? But the meeting does manage to shake up Alex on a carnal level.
Sam continues his stalker-like behavior and with each “chance” meeting he manages to shake up Alex a little bit more. She resists because she absolutely does not want another husband nor does she want to become another addition to Sam’s unending list of conquests. She resists some more and tries her best to get him out of her mind. But he won’t leave her alone long enough to forget him. Finally (after 60 or so pages and a few hours after their first meeting) he gets her to the point where she considers giving in to temptation. Hey, there are some things even an independent woman can’t resist and apparently a vulgar but breathtakingly beautiful man is one of ’em . . . .
From there the plot escalates into a series of detailed sexual romps. While they were exciting, they weren’t nearly as wild as I had anticipated (I guess it should be noted that a brush handle does come into play during one of these scenes). Several ex-lovers occasionally make an appearance to stir things up and interfering parents make weak attempts to marry them off to other, more worthy candidates, but other than that there isn’t much else happening plot wise. There are no mysteries to solve nor are there any tragedies to overcome. There is no deep emotional pull here and this romance lacks that falling in love feeling portrayed in the best of romances. The best term to describe this relationship would be “obsession.” And, of course, there are the author’s infamous endnotes, some of which are genuinely interesting but most of which are more of a distraction than anything else.
Despite all of this I found myself unable to put the darn book down. The plot certainly wasn’t the reason, nor was it the plentiful but pretty basic sex. It was the characters who, while not always entirely likable, were always entertaining and lively. They were unabashedly passionate, refreshingly outspoken, and anything but boring. These two were a much welcome change of pace from the steady diet of bland characters I’ve been reading this year. Sam, although often ill-mannered and insufferably arrogant, had an intoxicating, nearly suffocating sexual charm. Many heroes are written as insatiable rakes but this guy with every action and every word truly lived up to the title. Once he meets Alex she becomes the only one he craves and their attraction sets the pages aflame. Alex, for her part, has also left a few broken hearts in her wake and keeps Sam on his toes for the first time in his charmed life. Will their relationship burn out once their lust dies down? Well, after I read the HEA epilogue I was still not convinced they would be able to settle down so completely into a staid family life. But, hey, chemistry like this is hard to come by these days so you won’t find me complaining.
Seduction In Mind may lack a meaningful relationship but it manages to be an entertaining page-turner nonetheless. If you’re in the mood for a lusty read with an uncomplicated plot, this will be a fine addition to your summer reading list. This was my first Susan Johnson novel but it won’t be my last. I’m beginning to hoard her backlist for the next time a case of the reading “blahs” hits me.