The Seduction of an English Scoundrel
Jillian Hunter hasn’t had a book published for almost three years. I usually like her humorous writing and was pleased to learn that she has a new trilogy which will be published in three consecutive months, beginning with this book, The Seduction of an English Scoundrel.
What do you do when your parents insist that the marriage arranged while you were still in your cradle finally become a reality, even though you look upon your intended as a brother, and a brother who is in love with someone else? Lady Jane Welsham comes up with a scheme to get out of this sticky problem. Her fiancé, Nigel Boscastle, will jilt her at the altar while he dashes off to marry his (rapidly increasing) love, who just happens to be the family governess. It should all come off beautifully. Nigel will disappear and the ensuing scandal will assure that the bluestocking Jane is left alone and perhaps keep her parents from meddling too much in her sisters’ marital prospects. But she doesn’t count on Grayson Boscastle, the Marquess of Sedgecroft.
Grayson is Nigel’s cousin and, since his father’s death a year ago, head of the large, boisterous, hell-raising Boscastle family. Grayson has the reputation of being the worst of the lot, but now that he is the Marquess he has found that his old life doesn’t have the appeal it once did and that being the one who has to deal with his family’s excesses is no picnic. As head of the family he formulates his own plan to “make this right” for Jane.
The plan involves squiring Jane around London and relaunching her into society, thereby assuring that Jane suffers no ill consequences due to Nigel’s actions and hopefully helping to repair his own family’s reputation as well. This might have worked had Grayson not been so attracted to Jane (in particular her derriere as she stood at the altar), and if Grayson didn’t have such a powerful and potent masculine aura. As Jane thinks, “All that virility – in broad daylight! It took a woman by storm.” and she is quite swept up in it.
Besides the physical, they find common ground in worry over Grayson’s sister, Chloe, who has gotten even more wild and almost uncontrollable since her father’s death. I hope we learn more of Chloe in future books, for she was an interesting and troubled character. Chloe is the catalyst for a different attraction between the two. Grayson begins to see Jane as a friend and, knowing that she’s made for marriage, is beginning to link the words “commitment” and “Jane” in the same thought. He resigns himself to his fate.
But Jane’s secret regarding her aborted wedding gnaws at her and Grayson is still searching for Nigel and promising retribution when he finds him. Of course he learns of her deception before she tells him and while he is angry, he admires the way she took control of her life, though not the way in which she manipulated him. He still plans to marry her, but no more Mr. Nice Guy! Being fairly respectable has grated against his nature, but now he gives it free reign and plans to take a little sensual revenge against Jane before marrying her.
This is where Hunter lost me. Grayson declares her his mistress and whisks her off to Brighton – with her father’s blessing as he is just as angry about the deception and, after all, Grayson has promised to marry her. This was just not the way you treat someone you love and with whom you want to make a life.
I had a couple other concerns during the course of the book. We are told that, “For the next five days Grayson played the part of an attentive suitor…” and sixty pages later, “Another five days sped by … Five days of Sedgecroft occupying her time, seducing her spirit, five of the happiest and most terrifying days in her life.” I would have liked to have seen some more of those ten days, rather than to have been told about them. This is even more inexplicable when the book essentially ends on page 338 but continues on for another 40 pages with what feels like filler. These missing ten days seem the perfect opportunity to make those 40 pages more meaningful by showing the growing friendship and connection between Grayson and Jane.
But, one of Hunter’s strong points – her humor – is in full force here and the wry dialogue, amusing internal monologues and conversations both Jane and Grayson have with their respective siblings is great fun to read. So, a qualified recommendation from me.
I don’t know which Boscastles will be featured in the next two books – there are certainly many from whom to choose, but they were all appealing and the glimpses I received of them in this book insure that I will be reading the next installment in Hunter’s Boscastle series.