The Study of Seduction by Sabrina Jeffries
Pocket Books: March 22, 2016
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Free From Publisher
The Study of Seduction is a surprisingly heartfelt historical romance. Normally, when I pick up a Sabrina Jeffries book I expect something light and romantic. While The Study of Seduction is romantic, the themes explored were unexpectedly serious and dark. That’s not to say that Study of Seduction isn’t a signature Jeffries’ book, it is, but it also explores some pretty serious stuff as it relates to the couples romance.
Edwin Barlow, the Earl of Blakeborough has been charged to look after his friend’s cousin (and sister’s best friend), Lady Clarissa Lindsey. Clarissa has had some trouble with a persistent suitor who seems unable to comprehend the fact that Clarissa is not going to marry the man. Clarissa’s cousin Warren is required to travel to the Continent; however, he wants to ensure that Clarissa is protected from the determined Frenchman. Edwin reluctantly steps in to escort Clarissa and her mother to social events, and before he knows it, the pair of them are engaged.
The fake engagement trope is put to good use in Study of Seduction. In fact, there are many common tropes employed throughout the book; however, they all came together very well and offered a more emotional read than I initially expected going in. It’s clear early on that Clarissa has an event in her past that has made her determined never to marry. Sure, she’s willing to flirt, but marriage and all the intimacies that it entails is something she must avoid at all costs. During her first season Clarissa was raped by a “suitor” and only escaped being forced to marry the man when her brother kills him in a duel. The author doesn’t dwell on this event, instead the focus it put on Clarissa’s journey following those events and how they continue to affect her. On the whole, I thought the author did a good job exploring Clarissa’s actions and reactions to a potential romantic relationship with Edwin considering the events of her first season. The fact that Clarissa struggled to fully trust Edwin was done really well, and the very real obstacle that they as a couple had to overcome resonated. I wasn’t expected this level of seriousness in Study of Seduction (how can you with that title?), so I was pleasantly surprised with the depth and sensitivity that was presented.
What I thought could have been handled better was the motivation for Clarissa’s stalker. The Frenchman that had been pursuing Clarissa caused no amount of trouble for Clarissa and Edwin, and in fact forced their marriage. However, when the reason for the Frenchman’s ardent pursuit is revealed, I can’t help but feel like it was a weak excuse for stalking a woman. I didn’t totally buy the reasoning and I think there might have been better ways for the Frenchman to reach his ultimate goal without terrorizing Clarissa. That said, it did serve as a means to get Clarissa and Edwin into each other’s orbit, so the plot device served its purpose.
Lastly, I’ll mention the character of Edwin. What can I say, I’m kind of a sucker for awkward heroes and Edwin was the epitome of awkward. He didn’t know how to act in society and could be rather blunt in interacting with ladies, but I loved the contrast with Clarissa who was vivacious and witty. If you’re also a sucker for these awkward kinds of heroes, you will find a lot to like with Edwin. The dynamic between Clarissa and Edwin was fantastic. Edwin’s uptightness allowed for some lovely lightness in an otherwise more serious romance.
The Study of Seduction is a romance that tackles some difficult subject matter, but I think that it made for a stronger read. While the thriller/mystery plot wasn’t fully developed, the romance between Edwin and Clarissa was fleshed out and made for great reading.
Maya Rodale’s What a Wallflower Wants is another historical romance that tackles some seriousness, yet still offers a satisfying read. What a Wallflower Wants is much more serious than Rodale’s other historicals and in that I think fans of Jeffries’ novels will appreciate Rodale’s romance.
As I mentioned I have some serious love for awkward heroes and I most recently enjoyed Megan Frampton’s One Eyed Dukes Are Wild. The hero looks like a dashing pirate and that couldn’t be further from the truth. So much fun!