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REVIEW: Seducing the Enemy by Noelle Adams

seducing

Dear Ms. Adams:

I think this may be my first read from the Entangled Indulgence imprint, which gives readers of category romance another option besides Harlequin.  Seducing the Enemy seems to be going for the dramatic category feel, which for me is Not A Problem. Our heroine Etta is a twenty-five-year-old virgin looking to start experiencing life; when she meets Harrison, his air of power and authority entices her and she spends the night with him. She’s later horrified to discover that he’s Harrison Damon — part of the powerful family her grandfather is suing over an accident that killed her sister, and left Etta partially paralyzed for thirteen years.

As a rich and powerful hero, Harrison naturally has a bad experience with a deceitful woman under his belt. He assumes that their night together was a planned seduction and goes all Harlequin Presents on Etta’s ass:

“Ms. Edwards,” he bit out, still gripping her wrist. He refused to think of her as Etta. “Tell me why you’re here.”
“Isn’t it obvious?” she spit at him. “One taste of your irresistible self — your alluring charm and unbridled sexiness — just wasn’t enough. I’m here to throw myself on your mercy and beg you to take me back.”
Harrison lashed out at her venom with the only means he had available.
He kissed her — hard, deep, and punishing.

Ah, our old friend, the punishing kiss.

The scene continues:

Her free hand flew to him as her passion transformed to rage.
He caught it and held both wrists against the wall, trapping her completely.
He stared down at her. They were both flushed and painting, but her quaking had intensified. In addition to the anger, tears glistened in her eyes.
In a rush, he realized she was scared and helpless. And he gripped her wrists so hard, they’d probably bruise.
He has no idea what had come over him. He’s never been so unrestrained. He lived his life by certain rules. He was physically stronger than Marietta. She was a guest in his house. And no matter what the provocation, he didn’t treat women this way.

This is the kinder, gentler, modern category hero — that is, he still thinks the heroine is a gold-digger and gets abusive with her, but he’s horrified with himself about it.

Thwarted passion, misunderstanding, and hurt make for an enjoyable jolt of feeling. There’s also a protective, comforting element to their relationship: Etta has a severe phobia about beer and is prone to panic attacks, and Harrison is on hand to rescue her. These familiar components give a good emotional charge to the story.

But the rest felt somewhat flat. Etta’s meekly respectful interactions with Harrison’s uncle make her seem dull and cowed, and there are many scenes of her and Harrison laughing together which just aren’t particularly funny. And though story takes place in Monte Carlo, Aix (Etta’s hometown) and England, there’s very little in the way of local color or sense of place.

Etta’s backstory also never felt real to me. Here’s what she thinks about her past:

No more living a quiet, sheltered life. Maybe it was natural — she’d been in a wheelchair for thirteen years after a car accident when she was a child, and she’d only started walking again two years ago. With the lawsuit against the Damons settled, it was time to go out and have fun, like other women her age.

I can’t believe someone who was disabled for thirteen years would really think this way — surely she would have come to terms with it and started living her life? And a high school boyfriend is mentioned at one point, which contradicts this grim picture. There’s no depth to the portrayal, so Etta’s former disability comes off as just a manipulative plot point and a discomforting excuse for her virginity.

This is the first Adams (or Claire Kent) book I’ve read that wasn’t self-published, and though it has fewer proofreading errors, I don’t think it reached the compelling intensity of the previous stories.  But although some of it feels bare bones, the relationship has enough passion to make this an entertaining, easy read for those who enjoy category romance conventions. C

Sincerely,

Willaful

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Willaful

Willaful fell in love with romance novels at an early age, but ruthlessly suppressed the passion for years, while grabbing onto any crumbs of romance to be found in other genres. About seven years ago she finally gave in and started reading romance again, and has been trying to catch up with the entire genre ever since. She loves exquisitely written historical romance, intense m/m, and crazy, over the top categories about equally, and hopes to be buried with her e-readers. Look for her on twitter or at her blog at www.willaful.wordpress.com

6 Comments

  1. Dabney Grinnan
    Oct 24, 2013 @ 08:16:14

    This sounds awful. And your review cracked me up.

    I just finished another Noelle Adams book, Revival, which was a disappointment as well. I had a hard time believing it was written by the same person who wrote Escorted.

    ReplyReply

  2. Mom on the Run
    Oct 24, 2013 @ 08:31:45

    I’ve read some good books in this line, and others not so much. I like the 3 Holiday books by Annie Seaton a lot. But they are very up and down as far as quality is concerned.

    ReplyReply

  3. Mom on the Run
    Oct 24, 2013 @ 09:27:37

    Just want to clarify that I meant the line is up and down not the Annie Seaton books. Those have been rereads.

    ReplyReply

  4. Willaful
    Oct 24, 2013 @ 10:16:25

    @Dabney Grinnan: Haven’t read it, but I got the impression from other reviewers that it was low-intensity, which is disappointing since Baron was an interesting character in A Negotiated Marriage.

    ReplyReply

  5. Ridley
    Oct 24, 2013 @ 10:28:36

    As soon as you warned me on Twitter to not read this one, I added it to the list. Looking forward to running my wheelchair over it and tearing it a new one.

    ReplyReply

  6. Willaful
    Oct 24, 2013 @ 10:30:37

    @Ridley: Okay, that warning kinda backfired. ;-)

    ReplyReply

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