The Seduction was such poignant writing! The first half of the book, which includes the one week seduction attempt from whence the title came, is a slow, nice read that suddenly changes tempo and becomes a fast paced, intriguing, can't-put-it-down book. Even the hero and heroine's characters begin to change as we experience each of their personalities rounding out to face new situations. During the first portion of the book, I liked neither of the leads very well. By the end, I thought they were both fantastic individuals.
Alden Granville-Strachen, the Viscount Gracechurch, is the hero of The Seduction. In the beginning, he seems a foolish sort of man. He has just lost all he owns in a game of cards to Lord Edward. Although he is a famous rake and gambler, he also is a viscount that has many obligations to his land tenants and his family. He cannot believe that he has lost it all and, in silent desperation, agrees to one final wager to win his property back. If he wins this final wager, not only will his property be returned, but he will also receive an additional 5,000 pounds. Should Alden lose this wager, his risk is that Lord Edward will add an unknown boon to Alden's loss. The wager: seduce a lovely young widow within one week and deliver her locket as proof of the win to Lord Edward. He names Juliet Seaton as the woman Alden must seduce. Alden travels to Juliet's small hometown and the seduction begins.
At this point in the book, I was not too taken with the hero. Not only has he gambled his home and other holdings away, he is now set to seduce an obviously private, proper widow. Alden is legendary for his way with the ladies and loves his lifestyle as a rake and lover of women. He has never been turned down by a lady and actually does not have to seduce the majority of the women he wants. They want Alden - after all, he is very handsome and what in today's words, we would call "very cool."
Juliet Seaton is an intelligent woman who leads a very secluded and peaceful life. Her upbringing as a lady is obvious yet she must work hard to make ends meet and is not bitter at all about her humble circumstances. When Alden shows up in her garden with a bee sting, she is suspicious and openly questions his reasons for being at her home.
Alden is not acquainted with the notion that a lady would actually refuse his advances. We see Juliet as very wise as she guards her heart and her body from such a man as Alden. He begins the seduction almost immediately after meeting her in her garden and openly admits that he wants her and informs her that he believes she will be his. In Alden's eyes, what could a short affair with no commitment hurt? After all, she is a widow. An affair between the two would certainly be an enjoyable pastime. Why not indulge and then say farewell? Alden has not a clue at the implied insults he dishes out to Juliet as he makes his advances. He was still, at this time, not warming himself further to my heart. I'll give him credit for one thing; he was truthful about his intentions although he was not truthful about his reasons for this attempted seduction.
Juliet is highly suspect of any reasons Alden gives her for his temporary presence in her very small town. She is tolerant, at best, of Alden's presence and actually hateful (or at least unkind) to him most of the time. This is the portion of the book that dragged for me somewhat. Gradually we understand that Juliet has very good reasons to object to any man's presence in her life and we begin to see hints of Alden's true underlying character. He is actually a kind man and has some honor to him. But Alden continues his seduction, attempting to work his way into Juliet's daily routine although she is objecting at every turn and knows his game.
As mentioned earlier, when the seduction period ends, the book swiftly changes pace and content. We are swept into a deep plot and find not one boring page. Ross's writing is so superb that we get lost in the story and the emerging characters of Alden and Juliet. Soon, we absolutely love Alden as we see him display true honor again and again and understand that he no longer desires his past rakish lifestyle. The interaction between the leads is deep and although a couple of misunderstandings occur to spur the plot along, these are quickly resolved. The sensuality in this book is a four out of five (see More About Me for rating guidelines). This author does not depend on these scenes to carry much of the book.
Alden rescues Juliet from a very dire situation (I was actually shocked at this horrible situation). Then we start to see the love developing between the leads as their relationship takes root. The love between Alden and Juliet is beautiful and we just love Alden more and more. He is such a darling man, really - no false pride and no problems with self-image. Although he fastidiously plots deathly revenge against Sir Edward, he still does not exhibit the dominant type A personality we usually see in these lead roles. He is genuinely funny, knows how to express his feelings and thoughts without lies, and kids about his own weaknesses. This only makes him appear as even a stronger character. Again, this man does not have a problem with self-image!
I will comment on one item that I had seen mentioned in more than one Amazon review. Alden wears all of this lace and it is profusely described over and over again. I could have done without this although I realize it was high style at the time. This story occurs in the late 1700s and that is a hard time to envision attractive clothing because it all seem atrocious to me. Also, all of his bows (which I also realize were true to this time period) and his use of his very lacy handkerchief were a little too much. But I just made my mind block out these images. They were not conducive to the success or enjoyment of this book.
But - all in all - this was a fantastic read. Please remember, if the first half of this book drags a little for you just hold on. This book gets better and better with each page. This is a book for my keeper shelf. It is my first Julia Ross book. She is a very interesting new author that I will eagerly read again.