Mary Ellen "Kitty" Robertson, the adopted daughter of an American tycoon, wants to be an elegant and respected lady like her adopted mother. Well travelled and supposedly sophisticated, Kitty is engaged to a handsome, impoverished English lord. Having selected her betrothed because he is charming, a good friend, and seems a "safe" (you won't be able to forget that term, believe me) choice for a husband, Kitty is surprised to find herself passionately drawn to the dark and serious Duke of Weddington.
The duke, a close friend of Kitty's fiancé, is instantly taken with the beautiful red headed American heiress after he encounters her near his home on the coast of Cornwall. Knowing that Kitty's fiancé has a dark secret, Weddington is convinced that Kitty will never be happy with the man she has chosen and decides to pursue her himself.
At the beginning of "An Invitation to Seduction" I liked Weddington. His character showed some hints of depth regarding a tragedy in his past and some lingering physical ailments, but any interesting character development is lost in the overwrought plot of this story--though I did like the fact that he had his own money and didn't need Kitty's, but liked her for herself.
I find Kitty to be a very grating character, with little to recommend her beside the facts that she is beautiful, rich, and American (in that order). The primary issue driving her life choices is so silly and immature that even the author ends up brushing it off as an over-complicated hang-up toward the end. I must say that she did seem to have grown up a bit by the end of the book, but it wasn't enough to make her sympathetic or likeable.
One of the redeeming points of this story is that Kitty's fiancé is a relatively three dimensional character and is not conveniently vilified as is so often done in the romance genre. His secret, however, is painfully apparent from the beginning.
There are occasional hints at what the story could have been if it had been drawn out with a more subtle hand, but that's not enough to make "An Invitation to Seduction" a good read. It does pick up a bit toward the middle, but by the last thirty pages it was so ridiculous that I put it down for a week, only bothering to finish it when I got sick of seeing the book on my night stand.
If this is your first Lorraine Heath book, I'd encourage you to try some of her others, like the very good "The Outlaw and The Lady" or even "To Marry an Heiress".