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Victoria Alexander

Dear Author

REVIEW: Seduction of a Proper Gentleman by Victoria Alexander

Dear Ms. Alexander:

book review One thing that continually frustrates me in romance is the idea that readers will only find one type of male heroic. To wit, that only the alpha male, stern and unyielding, can make the loins aquiver and her heart to pitter pat. This is why the Duke is such a popular role as is the spy or the soldier because these men are not known for their smiling countenances, nor does he require great wit, a friendly mien or modulated voice.

From the romance novel stock shelves, the alpha male is tall, broad shouldered, generally dark haired, of grim coutenance. Surly demeanor optional for an extra $9.99. It is actually a bright spot to open a book and find a hero of a different caliber and that is what I thought I was getting after the introduction to Seduction of a Proper Gentleman. Oliver, you tell us, is a romantic. In the tontine created by his friends to see who would be the last of man standing, Oliver was sure it would not be him. He was ready to marry and to start a family. He was willing to embrace love, should it present itself on his doorstep.

The setup, it seemed, was to present a kind of role reversal so that Oliver was the romantic, longing for love, and Kate was the clear eyed pragmatist.

Although there was that bothersome character flaw of his that had kept him from marriage thus far. The twelfth Earl of Norcroft was an unabashed romantic. He didn’t just want to marry, he wanted love. His father had loved his mother. His grandfather had loved his grandmother and so on and so forth. Why, marrying for love was every bit a part of his heritage as his blue eyes and brown hair. And every bit as impractical.
Regardless, he was who he was.

Kate believed that she and Oliver needed to be married to fulfill a destiny. Her family had been cursed with misfortune for over 500 years due to an aborted marriage which was an attempt of the two feuding families to end the bloodshed between them. The curse would result in the end of both lines should they not reconcile within the 500 year deadline. Kate is left with the dilemma of how to meet Oliver, the Earl of Norcroft, and convince him to marry her.
The next thing the reader knows is that Kate is left on the doorstep of Oliver’s country home claiming amnesia. In a clever twist, the reader isn’t quite sure that Kate isn’t playing a trick or whether she actually does have amnesia. At least that is the twist I hope was intended.

The problem is that Oliver was not provided a consistent characterization. If he was indeed a romantic, one ready for love, wouldn’t he have embraced this beautiful stranger who seemed perfect for him in every way? Wouldn’t he have loved the idea that she was an amnesiac, something an irrepressible romantic would find titillating? Wouldn’t he have been thrilled that his mother, too, thought that this lovely young woman with the bad memory and the good gloves and clothing (meaning she was from a decent family) was the perfect match for him?

Instead, Oliver is full of ominous threats to find out who Kate really was and to expose her for the . . . what, fraud? of making him fall in love with her. Oliver was presented as intractable and overbearing. He was studying clouds and promising to kiss her one minute and the next threatening her. It seemed incongruous. Was he the brooding agnry man or the charming flirt? Was he the romantic or the stern, unyeilding alpha male.

Best parts of the book were Oliver’s mother. She poked fun at Oliver’s stuffiness. She intimated that the life she currently led wasn’t entirely satisfying and much to her son’s chagrin, was ready to try out her widow’s wings and live a little.

I didn’t love how the amnesia was played out. Kate would be able to play a word association game and come up with an answer. Husband – none. Children – none, but she wants them. Parents – mother at least is dead. Conveniently Kate was able to remember all the details of her life that might provide impediments for Oliver and her falling in bed together. I also felt that because so much of the book was spent with Kate “remembering” her past, that I didn’t get to see her grow as a person at all. I also thought that she was superficially dressed. I.e., she was made to be a scholar but wasn’t given to any scholarly thinking.   She was an archer but that was only so that she and Oliver could have physical contacct and get into awkward social situations.   

Overall, there is a good sense of humor that permeates this book and for a light, fluffy escape, there are certainly worst ways to spend an afternoon or evening, but I have to say I was disappointed in not being delivered what I thought was promised in the setup. C

Best regards

Jane

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells or ebook format.

Dear Author

REVIEW: Secrets of a Proper Lady by Victoria Alexander

Dear Ms. Alexander:

Book CoverI can't recall the last book I had read of yours so it's as if you are a new to me author. I can see why you are popular because your books provide the comfort of the familiar with a dash of the funny. For me, though, the plot and characters were a bit too familiar and the love story, based on deception, never rang true.

Four male friends form a tontine to see who will escape marriage the longest. I admit it. I emitted a long groan after reading the prologue because the club of men who wager against marriage seems a bit tired. This hero believes he will be the last man standing as he is DETERMINED not to marry which, of course, sounds the death knell of his bachelorhood. American Daniel Sinclair is in Britain to solidify railroad deals that will ultimately make him very wealthy and suddenly finds himself promised to Lady Cordelia Bannister.

Daniel's father wants to combine his shipping empire with an old and titled family. The Earl of Marsham needs a big cash infusion. Up to this point, Marsham has been indulgent with his daughter, Cordelia, paying all her bills and allowing her an enormous amount of personal freedom such as allowing her to travel all over the world (the British travelable world, that is). The fact is that no hats will be purchased nor will any trips be financed if this deal with Harold Sinclair (Daniel's father) isn't consummated.

Cordelia is appalled that she is being bartered off and refuses to do so even in the face of the idea that her refusal could be the ruination of her family. She does agree to consider the idea and sets out to try to get to know Daniel better by engaging his secretary in dialogue. Cordelia, rather than being straightforward, decides to impersonate her paid companion, Sarah, who really has no say in the matter. So Cordelia, masquerading as Sarah, meets who she believes is the secretary but is really Daniel. Daniel decides to perpetuate the mistaken identity by romancing the companion in hopes of learning more about Cordelia who he is sure he doesn't want to marry because the fact that she reads and travels makes her sound like a stout Amazon (a description I thought was oxymoronic).

Both Daniel and Cordelia are spoiled and self absorbed and while they eventually realize their respective faults nothing much is done to reflect any change in their attitudes. The character development of those issues seemed so summarily handled as to be non important.
Daniel, particularly, is a character whose depiction doesn't match the description. I.e., he is supposed to be a brilliant businessman but he can't see the flaws of his own deception of Cordelia. If he can't see the problems in his logic – I am going to romance the companion to learn all about Lady Cordelia, a woman I don't want to marry but may end up marrying in the future causing huge awkwardness if we do get married between the companion and the wife – then I wonder how he could have any success in business.

But even in business, his acumen is not sharp. He was not even aware of a business situation that threatened to completely derail (pun not intended) his plans for building a fortune. I also thought it was laughable that Daniel believed himself to be a self made man because he wasn't depending on his father's money, but rather the money he inherited from his mommy's parents. That's standing on your feet all right.

There were parts of the book I liked such as Cordelia being called out by her family for being selfish and self absorbed but she doesn't agree to marry; she simply perpetuates the fiction that she is Sarah. I liked the Daniel thought that continuing the masquerade seemed dishonest. He engages in a long discussion with the honorable secretary whom he is posing as, but he still goes on pretending to be the guy he says he doesn't want to be.

On the surface this was an amusing read as the two main protagonists pretended to be other people while falling in love. At one point, Daniel waxes rhapsodic about the characteristics he likes in the fake Sarah such as her refusal to not live off her richer relatives and no one in the book seems to recognize the falsity of feeling that is behind any declaration of love for Cordelia. It had some of the 50s era romantic comedy feel to it. Unfortunately, my read left me a bit frustrated both at the characters and the narrative. C

Best regards,

Jane

This book can be purchased in paperback or as an ebook.