The Perfect Seduction
I feel a bit shallow making this observation, but the biggest downside to this book is the unfortunate fact that the likable hero and heroine take way too long (way, way, way too long) to get to it. But despite all that overly prolonged foreplay, The Perfect Seduction is, on the whole, a well written, well constructed, thoroughly enjoyable European Historical romance.
Seraphina Treadwell, a proud daughter of England who’s never seen her home country, arrives on the well-appointed London doorstep of Carden Reeves with a bombshell the young man clearly doesn’t see coming: The death of his brother in far away Belize has not only made him an earl, it’s also made him the guaradian of his three young nieces. Sera, the close family friend who’s brought them to his home, intends to make certain that the newly minted earl stands up to his new responsibilities.
Carden chafes at the restrictions for several reasons. Not surprisingly, he believes that three young girls are a hardly an attractive – or appropriate – accoutrement for a bachelor with a rakish reputation. But, a bit more surprisingly, the talented and very hard working architectural engineer also believes that his newfound title would impose severe limitations on his career and the very attractive income he earns from it. Carden, it seems, would rather be a younger son working guy with a successful career than a non-working earl with a title, a limited income, and overwhelming attention from the matchmaking mamas who previously left him alone.
After a bit of negotiation, the two arrive at an arrangement that makes both of them happy: Sera will, without lying to her young charges, hide the fact that Carden is now an earl while he, in turn, will provide a home in town for his nieces and their companion Sera. The girls get stability, Sera gets a home, and Carden (with any luck) gets to keep his job.
Sera is an engaging and emotionally complex heroine whom I liked very much. The victim of an arranged marriage to a brutish and crooked lout, she has a more than justified “attitude” about men. But she’s far from just a victim of a bad marriage, the resourceful Sera is also a talented botanical artist who collaborated with her father on a book about the beautiful plants and flowers found in the tropics. Attracted to Carden right from the start, Sera simply won’t consider a relationship with a man that is anything less than permanent.
Carden, as you can imagine, is after the exact opposite – something that didn’t quite ring true for me. Frankly, the rakish reputation that Ms LaFoy is very careful to detail almost seemed at odds with his very directed approach to his career. Carden is anything but feckless and the endless parade of women we’re told have danced through his life struck me as somehow slightly off. Okay, we all know guys and what motivates them, but in Carden’s case, he struck me as slightly more evolved than that – especially since he cleans up his act amazingly quickly once he meets Sera.
A suspense subplot involving Sera (an effort, I suppose, to introduce external conflict) slows down the Carden-Sera connection even further and seemed to serve more as flimsy excuse for some standard issue heroical theatrics than a successful addition to the story. With the already (very) slowly evolving relationship at the center of the story, an unnecessary distraction was exactly what this book didn’t need.
And therein lies the crux of the matter. If you can withstand the wait in exchange for getting to know two likable characters, The Perfect Seduction is a book you may well want to consider. For my part, I certainly plan to be there for the author’s upcoming books (anyone who’s successfully completed Romance Novel Reading 101 can easily spot the heroes of the author’s next two books within the pages of this one). I will, however, keep my fingers crossed that the wait for the penultimate moment in those stories isn’t quite as painful as it was here.