Desert Isle Keeper
Seven Secrets of Seduction
When Anne Mallory is on, she delivers in spades.
Miranda Chase is accustomed to living vicariously through books (and occasionally through her wilder friend Georgette). She lives quietly, working for her absentminded uncle in his bookshop, and saving up for a Grand Tour that she always manages to put off. More recently, she has been carrying on two epistolary correspondences which provide friendship, conversation, and confidentiality. However, they are faint balms to her small and vaguely unsettled life.
All that changes when Maximilian, Viscount Downing, walks into the store to pick up some books. He teases, mocks, and engages her, and, although she knows the moth and flame are apt analogies, she just can’t help it. When he hires her to organize his library, Miranda accepts in spite of her misgivings. After all, what could he possibly want with a common bookworm?
There’s the obvious, which is made plain when the reader finally gets inside Maxim’s head on page 118. But he has other motivations that unravel slowly, and I’ll just say straight up that I love character-driven stories and this one is damn good. The revelations and character growth come so gradually they creep up on you before you know it, yet the changes are relevant and organic. Miranda and Maxim are flawed. They make silly choices. But they’re also human and wholly understandable within the character framework that Ms. Mallory sets. And, by golly, did I buy their romance.
I’ve been more or less waiting for this book to come along, the one that (finally) lives up to the potential shown but as yet unfulfilled. Here, Ms. Mallory comes into her own and tells a moving, emotional story that is also beautifully written. Her writing has risen above the basic narrative to a more complex and layered prose, one that makes the words crackle and spark. It was pure pleasure to submerge myself in Miranda’s growing confidence and Maxim’s emotional upheavals. The writing does wallow a bit too much in its own effusiveness, and the result is the occasional lag in pacing.
Sometimes a book just seems too good to be true. But Seven Secrets of Seduction has it all: Complex, realistic characterization; consistent, logical plot; appropriate setting and full-fleshed secondary characters; warm fuzzy feeling; and beautiful, beautiful writing. This is a definite keeper.