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Nina Rowan

REVIEW:  A Passion for Pleasure by Nina Rowan

REVIEW: A Passion for Pleasure by Nina Rowan

Dear Ms. Rowan:

Your first book, A Study in Seduction, was the subject of intense debate between myself and Sarah Wendell of SmartBitchesTrashyBooks on the issue of the heroine’s believability as a mathematician. Spoiler: I liked it. I haven’t had great success with historicals and was eager to read the follow up featuring the musically inclined hero, Sebastian Hall who was the brother of the hero in A Study in Seduction.

A Passion for Pleasure Nina RowanThe Hall siblings are suffering from a fall from social grace after their mother ran away with a Russian soldier.  Their father, the Earl of Rushton, is a humorless man but one who cares a great deal about his children.  He worries about Sebastian after Sebastian leaves a prestigious conducting position at the Court of Weimar in Germany.  Rushton orders Sebastian to marry and settle down or lose his allowance.

Clara Whitmore is the daughter of Baron Fairfax. She married a man approved by her father and had a son, Andrew.  When her husband died, Fairfax was ceded guardianship and ousted Clara from his home, declaring that she was responsible for her husband’s death and that she was not a fit parent.  Clara holds a life tenancy in a property that she’d like to sell in order to barter the funds to debt ridden Fairfax in exchange for her son.  When the courts rule the property can only be transferred to a male, Clara offers a marriage of convenience to Sebastian.  She will then transfer the estate to him and he can sell it.

Clara’s crush on Sebastian started long before she makes the offer of marriage.  Sebastian taught piano lessons to her brother and her when Clara was younger and she had always envisioned him as the epitome of a dashing man.  And he was.  But since he lost the use of his right hand, Sebastian’s confidence and zest for life has all but disappeared. Now he recognizes that a small wren of a woman like Clara has more depth that the debutantes he used to squire around.

The idea that it takes a disfigurement or disability to make someone less shallow is a little disconcerting but what troubled me the most is how quickly Sebastian moved from “Clara Whitmore is a girl I wouldn’t have noticed before I left the Court of Weimar” to “I can’t wait to get in her pants.” He segues from lust into love even more rapidly.  Clara’s feelings for Sebastian are withheld, almost in a contrived fashion.  She doesn’t want to love him until he accepts himself which  didn’t fit  Clara’s earlier and previous feelings for Sebastian.

The real emotion that Clara showed for the loss of her son resonated more strong than the romance between Sebastian and Clara. I never really got a sense for either of them. Yes, Sebastian was tortured because he could no longer play the piano and no longer compose his music but his musicality didn’t really sing to me like Lydia’s love for math did in the previous book.  Clara’s feelings toward Andrew seemed stronger than her feelings toward Sebastian.

The throwaway plot of Clara’s uncle finding plans for a special code creating machine seemed ill suited for this book and appeared to only be included to set up Sebastian’s brother’s story.

Finally, the issue of Sebastian’s mother comes into play and while I appreciate the thematic issues of parenthood from Rushton to Sebastian and Clara to her son, I felt the ending was rather hamfisted. C

Best regards,


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REVIEW:  A Study in Seduction by Nina Rowan

REVIEW: A Study in Seduction by Nina Rowan

Dear Ms. Rowan:

I admit passing this book over because lately historical romances have such a sameness to them, that I felt like I’ve read all the stories before.  However, the review at JenniferRNN’s site intrigued me and I found the book on NetGalley, allowing me to try the book out for free.

The heroine, Lydia Kellaway, is a math prodigy. She thinks of everything in terms of solvable math theorems, including the non rational concept of love. Because she can’t fathom how she allowed what she thought to be love to lead her so astray, Lydia tries to analyze it, solve the problem of it. But her working theorems are rattled when she meets Alexander, Lord Northwood.

The pleasure of being loved. R = Return.
The reaction to the partner’s appeal. I = Instinct.
The process of forgetting. O = Oblivion.
If she made certain assumptions on the behavior of the individuals and assigned variables to a positive linear system, and the linear model of x1(t) = –?1×1(t) + ?1×2(t)
The pleasure of being loved.

A Study in Seduction Nina RowanAlexander is fighting to regain respectability for his family.  His Russian mother doomed them when she ran off with a Russian lover. Two of his brothers are still in Russia and there are rumblings in Britain that the Russians pose a threat to Britain’s security.  Thus scandal and questionable alliances place Alexander’s family in jeopardy.  Alexander has two goals: marry his sister off well and pull off a magnificent display for the Society of Arts exhibition, one that he is funding largely himself.

Alexander is intrigued by Lydia whom he meets when she comes to retrieve a locket that had been pawned by her grandmother.  He hadn’t considered marriage for himself, but if he had to marry why not someone like Lydia whose intellect interests him as much as her pleasant form.

Lydia is presented as a socially awkward individual. She seeks refuge in her math at all time, often repeating math theorems in her head to calm herself. She has a limited social circle comprised primarily of her younger preteen sister, her grandmother, and a number of mathematics scholars.  Alexander challenges her but even when she would like to relent, she feels that she cannot.  Her past holds a scandal that would ruin all of Alexander’s plans.  There is a real impediment to the two of them being together so long as maintaining his position in society is important.  The barrier, however, is not revealed until late in the book and I felt that Lydia’s actions and behaviors would have been more understandable if we had been let in on the secret earlier.

A mystery subplot involving Lydia’s younger sister and an unnamed person (likely a male) adds an ominous tone to the story.  While it was resolved without harm to the young girl, I felt like the tension was forced when the reveal came about. Why now was a question that went unanswered.

The ending kind of unspooled rather quickly and while I liked the unconventional resolution, I felt more time could have been spent with both characters coming to terms with the reveal and conclusion.  There is a lot of familiar ground here, but Lydia’s character was different enough to engage my interest. I don’t know the first thing about math and I don’t think you need to understand it to appreciate the book.  B-

Best regards,