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REVIEW: Seductive Secrets by Lynne Connolly

Dear Mrs. Connolly,

As always, I look forward to your Georgian historicals. In the past, I’ve found them entertaining, informative, moving. When Samhain offered us their new releases, I eagerly snapped this one up. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for me as well as most of your past historical books.

Has your hero Nick Seyton not heard the old phrase “Don’t shit where you eat?” If not, then he certainly knows the general reason why someone coined it by the time this book is over. I can understand that he was devastated when the woman he loves elopes with another man on the eve of their wedding. But…I mean, who has a sexual affair with one’s own cousin’s wife? And this is while he’s busy boinking half the female population of England by the sounds of it. Mention is made of one poxed old man and I can’t help but wonder if Nick’s insides are a roiling brew of bacteria that can cause the nastiest of infections.

Okay, so now after the death of Isobel’s husband, Nick has a chance to regain the love of his life. Go Nick and ‘cheers mate’ that he persuades her. But am I the only one who finds it slightly creepy that he falls in love with her when he’s twelve and she’s eight (only the book incorrectly states her age as 10 but that doesn’t fit in with the other ages mentioned)? A twelve year old boy falling in love? With an eight year old? Sorry, and this might just be me, but that icks me out.

Well, we all knew what was coming with Isobel’s first husband. Henry gets turned into the worst kind of Romance First Husband – the uncaring homosexual who can’t even manage to get it up to at least deflower his bride before beginning to ignore her while at the same time destroying her self-confidence. I find myself agreeing with Mrs. Giggles’ assessment that Isobel, despite all the good reasons you give her, is way too needy. Half of her bedroom encounters with Nick tend to end with her dissolving into tears and casting herself on his manly chest as he vows to help her, soothe her, love her, whatever her.

Isobel does manage to stick up for herself in the area of household management with sharp preemptive strikes against her cold, hoity mother-in-law. Too bad it’s just chickens and servants she seems to be able to deal with. You tell us that she’s perfected a cool, unemotional front for society due to both the scandal of her first marriage and the cruelty of her family yet she lets villainess Mariah and her sidekick Judith get to her on a regular basis. I guess because this is the first time she’s falling in lurve.

And by the way, where was her family – nasty pack of vultures – for a week at at time? They try to extort more moolah out of her before the wedding and then suddenly drop from sight. Were they out trying to pilfer the silverware? Brava that Isobel knows them for what they are and isn’t going to put up with them or their sponging. Plus her mother needs to be shot for not telling Isobel anything about what to expect on her first wedding night. Please don’t tell me that Hugh’s commission is going to send him to the American colonies. Ship his ass off to the Caribbean and let him get yellow fever.

Nick’s friends – Severus and Peter – are, no doubt, the subjects of the other two books in this trilogy and the way you’ve set them up should led to some – ahem – interesting stories. What is it with politicians who think they’ll be able to boff whomever they want and no one will ever find out? And make that a double if the boffing involves members of the same sex. I am looking forward to seeing what you’ll do with them. However, I am appalled that Nick tells them the intimate details of Isobel’s first marriage. Surely there was a way to elicit the information he needed from his two friends without that. I hope Isobel never finds out as it would make future meeting with them rather awkward.

The details of the estate and Isobel’s duties as lady of the house were the most interesting part. I had to laugh when Nick manages to piss of both his wife and his mother over who’s in charge of the house. Yet, at times, these came off as rather dry. I wish we’d seen more of her hobby of chicken raising. Perhaps this will be explored further in future books.

As far as the villains went, Mariah was pretty much a one note character. Evil, seductive, oversexed whore. You tell us that she wanted the best for her children and cared for them yet she and Duncan lived full-time at Nick’s estate while their children were either in school or at their estate. Even for removed 18th century parents, this sounds like abandonment to me. The killer is just such a sad, pitiful POS. But what happens to him? Was a decision ever made? If so, I missed it.

All in all, I found “Seductive Secrets” to be a disappointment. It has melodramatic dialogue with lots of !!, a hero you use the word obsessed with to describe his feelings for his heroine, a heroine who turns martyr at the end -and wouldn’t letting Nick divorce her cause even more scandal? -and villains with little depth. I hate to say it but this one gets a C- from me.

~Jayne

This book can be purchased at Samhain Publishing.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

6 Comments

  1. Lori
    Jul 09, 2008 @ 13:14:59

    The killer is just such a sad, pitiful POS. But what happens to him? Was a decision ever made? If so, I missed it.

    SPOILER
    Yeah, a quick mention was made that it was Duncan and he killed himself, so Isobel could come back home to Nick.
    END SPOILER

    I enjoyed this a bit more than you did, I think, but I’m laughing at your pox reference at the top. That one totally passed me by.

  2. Jayne
    Jul 09, 2008 @ 14:19:49

    Lori, thanks for that. I reread the ending twice but obviously must have skimmed right over that. Mrs. G’s grade would be slightly higher than mine too. I am looking forward to the other two books in the series.

  3. Lynne Connolly
    Jul 10, 2008 @ 09:22:32

    Sorry this one didn’t work for you, but I did know going in to this story, that it wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste. It’s ‘harder’ historically than many of my books, but it had to be that way. I got the story from a scandal-sheet of the time, not the henhouse bit, but the situation Isobel found herself in, and it intrigued me so much, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
    I love Nick, and yes, he was obsessed with her, but I thought in a good way. He was careful, and the women he bedded were disease free, so worry not.
    And he’s the only rake in this series. In general, rakes don’t interest me too much, unless there’s a reason behind their rakishness (is that a word?)- rakehellery? – but Nick was doing all he could to forget her – without success. Cos he knew it was a bit obsessive, as well. His journey is from obsession to love, to try to understand that Isobel was a woman, not a straw woman, but maybe I didn’t do as well with his story.
    Harry’s a bad man not because he was gay, but because he didn’t have the courage to face it, and because he forced Isobel to take the blame for his shortcomings (which were cowardice and secretiveness, not his sexual orientation).
    I knew Isobel’s leaving Nick would piss people off, but she wanted to distance herself until scandal died down. The divorce was just her despair talking, and in those days it would have been up to Nick to decide, but hey, he’s not going to do that, is he?

    Anyway, on to the next. That’s Severus’s story, and it’s coming in October. I did a lot of research into eighteenth century Spain and Portugal, so I used that for the next book, as well for an unpublished Richard and Rose book (there should be news about poor R and R soon!) I hope you like that one better!

  4. Jayne
    Jul 10, 2008 @ 13:05:08

    All right. If any author wants lessons on how to respond to a less than glowing review, they should read your response. Though I’m sure you’d probably like to pour boiling tea over my head, one would never know it. ;)

    I got the story from a scandal-sheet of the time, not the henhouse bit, but the situation Isobel found herself in, and it intrigued me so much, I couldn't stop thinking about it.

    This is one of the reasons I do like to read your books. You do your research, you read source material and you have such a sense of historical “place” in your stories.

    He was careful, and the women he bedded were disease free, so worry not.
    And he's the only rake in this series. In general, rakes don't interest me too much, unless there's a reason behind their rakishness (is that a word?)- rakehellery? – but Nick was doing all he could to forget her – without success. Cos he knew it was a bit obsessive, as well.

    Hmmm, generally I want real rakes too. Not poor momma’s crybabies who only think they’re bad boys. However, VD is usually something I can’t get over. The ‘cures’ didn’t work and the way syphilis progresses, one might think one is cured but still be able to pass it to a lover. With Nick’s boffing history, it just boggles the mind to think he could manage to dodge the bullet for that long. But be that as it may, I can see that if he did have a nasty infection ongoing, it would kill the romance so I’ll shut up about that.

    Harry's a bad man not because he was gay, but because he didn't have the courage to face it, and because he forced Isobel to take the blame for his shortcomings (which were cowardice and secretiveness, not his sexual orientation).

    I’m still waiting for Gervase! I think if – when? – you do a m/m romance, you’ll treat the characters with dignity and do a good job by them.

    I knew Isobel's leaving Nick would piss people off, but she wanted to distance herself until scandal died down. The divorce was just her despair talking, and in those days it would have been up to Nick to decide, but hey, he's not going to do that, is he?

    No, I guess not! ;)

    Anyway, on to the next. That's Severus's story, and it's coming in October. I did a lot of research into eighteenth century Spain and Portugal, so I used that for the next book, as well for an unpublished Richard and Rose book (there should be news about poor R and R soon!) I hope you like that one better!

    I am looking forward to these next stories. And Jane and I were just emailing each other today about the R&R stories, wondering when they’d finally see the light of day – or computer – again. Poor Rose – preggers for how many years now?

  5. Randi
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 12:00:52

    I just picked this up at B&N (sooooo happy and shocked to see a Samhain book in hard copy). I’ve seen Lynne posting here, at SB and KKB, so I wanted to give her a try. ;) I’ll jump back when I’ve finished the book.

    ps. Hi Lynne! Tell whomever that I’m very glad to see a Samhain book in print!! yay!

  6. Randi
    Jun 10, 2009 @ 12:26:51

    OK, I’m a total dork. I had NO IDEA Samhain had print book for sale from their site. I just thought they did ebooks (thus my joyous shock at seeing a Samhain print book at B&N).

    I still maintain this is the first Samhain print book I’ve seen at B&N, though.

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