The Perfect Seduction
I loved Margo Maguire’s novels when she wrote for Harlequin and when I heard she was going over to Avon, I was curious to see how she would do with the longer historicals. I enjoyed her first Avon release and this one was also a fun read. I wish that Maguire would use the extended length of her books to explore her characters’ a bit more, but The Perfect Seduction is still quite enjoyable.
Kathryn de St. Marie is the daughter of one of King William’s barons. Eight years after William’s conquest of England, it is still a wild place for the Normans. Outside of Castle Kettwyck there is the fear of Scottish raiders, and relations with the surviving Saxons are far from amicable. Kathryn meets with both of these foes in one day as she is kidnapped by Scots and then rescued by Saxon lord Edric of Braxton Fell.
Kathryn was taught that abduction by Scots raiders would render any woman unfit for marriage and that the shame of such capture is a fate worse than death. Knowing this, she lies to Edric about her identity and also tells him she has nowhere to go. It is clear to the Saxon that his captive is Norman, but he believes her to be merely Kate, a simple serving maid. When he brings her to Braxton Fell, her gentle treatment of his infant son causes him to keep her as a nursemaid.
Though Edric adores Kathryn’s gentle ways as well as her bravery in dealing with a household filled with Norman-hating Saxons, he does not want to get involved with her or any Norman. He lacks trust in the Normans and while he recognizes Kathryn is different, he is still unwilling to set aside his suspicions long enough to let her close. Kathryn enjoys Edric’s company and fights her attraction to him even as she struggles to set his impoverished holding to rights.
Edric and Kathryn’s romance is quite tender and touching at times. There are reasons for Edric’s distrust of Normans that go far beyond resentment of William’s Conquest, however, Maguire steps back from letting readers get too far inside his head and heart. The author does a good job of evoking Braxton Fell and its surrounding village. I appreciated that while the hero and heroine resided at the same place, they did not spend every waking minute sitting in each other’s presence brooding in lustful silliness. However, reading this book would have been an even richer experience if I’d been allowed inside the heads of both the hero and heroine a bit more.
Without giving any spoilers, I will say that the characters in this story experience quite a bit of adventure and, as always, Maguire does a wonderful job in writing her action sequences. Her writing flows well and as the plot action picks up, so did the pace of my page-turning. However, there were also some eye-rolling moments when we are treated to characters who are either so good that you can almost see their haloes or else they are downright e-e-e-e-vil. While I was thrilled to see that Kathryn is not at all TSTL, I did wish she’d lose her temper or do something less than perfect just once or twice.
The rich historical setting that evokes the politics of the time without dragging the story into history-lecture territory, together with Maguire’s vivid storytelling, really make this book. While the characters are likable for the most part (though if you get fed up with the Virgin Sex Kittens of Avonland, Kathryn may not be your favorite), this is more of an action romance than a deeply introspective, character-driven tale. For what it is, I think it’s well done and I rather enjoyed it.