The Art of Seduction
I wanted to like The Art of Seduction. I really, really did. I mean, it’s Paris, it’s 1889, and it’s burning. This would normally be right up my alley. Sadly, I thought the heroine came a bit too close TSTL and truly began to believe the hero was psychotic by the time I’d slogged two-thirds of the way through.
American Mason Caldwell is an almost starving artist in Paris, desperately seeking recognition for her own form of Impressionism. Facing total rejection, she walks the streets of Paris trying to decide what to do. On a bridge she meets a woman who decides to committe suicide and Mason, without thought, jumps into the raging Seine to save her. After a hit on the head and a lengthy illness, she awakens to find that she is the biggest thing in art. She reunites with her friend, Lisette, who is the only completely likable character present, and decides to become Amy, Mason’s sister, so she can enjoy her fame.
At the gallery where her paintings are to go on sale, she meets Richard Garret, a British connoisseur of art. There is an instantaneous attraction and he convinces her to stop the sale of her sister’s art so she can make a greater profit in the long run. She agrees and rushes off with him in his carriage, where they preceded to engage in activities that made me blush. Needless to say, I believed things were going to get better from there. I was wrong.
Obviously, Mason has secrets. She wants to disclose them all to Richard, but after she sees how he practically idolizes her work, she realizes that she can’t if she wants to keep him. Mason discovers that Richard isn’t exactly what he says he is either. She soon discovers that he is a Pinkerton Agent who travels around Europe catching art thieves and that he has people following her. However, things are quickly resolved for the two of them on this issue at the halfway point of the book. I wondered to myself, “What else could go wrong from here?”
That question was quickly answered…and answered…and answered. The French police are on to them, or so Mason believes. Also, up pops a duchess madly in love with Richard who attempts to murder Mason. Amazingly, by the end of the book, Mason and Emma and the duchess are practically best friends. A surprise villain comes into the picture and adds an element of betrayal to the mix. Oh, and how could I forget that Lisette is accused of Mason’s murder and faces execution? I asked myself, “What more could possibly go wrong?” Why did I ask?
Along with all these life-altering events, it becomes obvious that Richard is obsessed with giving Mason the fame he believes her innovative work deserves. And, boy, do I mean obsessed, nearing the point of a psychotic compulsion. Struggling with all of this, Mason decides her art is no longer important and forces Richard to make a choice between herself and her art. Completely ignoring the fact that the choice causes death and destruction, I guess you could say that the book had a nice HEA.
All in all, there are simply too many problems for the hero and heroine to deal with here. And to make matters even more problematic, there is a whole lot of sex in the beginning sections of the book and very little from the halfway point forward. I find that strange, yet explainable, since there were so many problems to overcome.
On the positive side, I liked the characters of Lisette and her unwanted beau, Juro Dargelos. I also appreciated the fact that Mason and Richard realized that they loved each other quickly, one less problem for them to deal with. Even with those two points in the plus column, I doubt if I’ll try another of Katherine O’Neal’s books.