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Beyond Seduction Mass Market Paperback – 1 May 2002
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About the Author
Emma Holly lives in Minnesota where the winters are long and people will use any excuse to warm up. According to Emma, humanity's best inventions are hot showers, the printing press, coffee, chocolate, and bicycle shorts for men. She can be reached at email@example.com or P.O. Box 2591, Minneapolis, MN 55402-0591.
Top customer reviews
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Also the sex is really HOT - if you don't like your sex honest and not hedged in by fluffy euphemisms DON'T get this book, some of the descriptions are so down to earth explicit they could grace a manual on 'improving your relationship'.
Nicholas is very taken with Merry’s attractions, and is in fact eager to paint her. Merry deceives him by posing as a servant, and he in turn is taken by her unaware beauty and charm. The two soon realise their attraction for one another, and act upon it. For each it starts out as a temporary thing, but when Merry finally has the opportunity she had been working towards, she finds she cannot simply walk away from Nicholas. Together they go to Vience, city of lovers. But Nicholas still does not know the truth, and in fact he is hiding something himself…
I enjoyed that Merry takes control of her situation here. She comes under considerable pressure and in fact blackmail from her family, and unusually for the time (considering her station) she does not bend to their wishes, but comes up with her own plan, takes action and then also takes responsibility for the consequences. Nicholas is more a product of the time, but is nevertheless an engaging central male character, with his own strengths and weaknesses, and provides the opportunity for Merry to blossom into the person he uniquely perceived her as being from the outset.
Taking the romance outside of London was also different. The lifestyle Nicolas leads in Venice is not a particularly attractive one, but it is this section that leads to the epiphany for both characters independently as well as for the structure of the story as a whole.
The sensuality sizzled, the characters are unique and distinctive, and altogether I found the book to be something more than the standard Regency Romance.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
It's a perfect blend of romance and sensuality. The heroine is not a nymphomaniac, as in Ms. Holly's modern novels, and the hero is warm and believable and doesn't have a mustache or any of the other unattractive attributes that her characters sometimes sport. Both hero and heroine are solid, likeable, three-dimensional characters who come together naturally.
I found this book to be much better written than anything the author has done previously. Characterization, plot, setting, even secondary characters are all so well-crafted that it actually took me by surprise. This is as good as any historical romance I've read, and is in a class with books by authors like Lisa Kleypas, Candace Proctor, and Jill Barnett.
I loved the exotic setting of much of the book in Venice, and the evocative way that the author described that city. It gave the book richness and depth. The fact that the hero is a painter and the author clearly bothered to research the time period and incorporate this into the book really made the story and the characters come alive.
I loved the hero - not just another alpha male, but a tortured, sympathetic character. He's a gorgeous and talented, but tormented artist, and the story of how he overcomes so many obstacles to be with the heroine is really believable and makes him completely loveable. The heroine is virginal, but neither weak, stupid, nor especially naive. She is a powerful figure in the love story, making bold choices and taking fate into her own hands. She really seems like an equal match for the hero.
Since this is an Emma Holly book, one also can expect a lot of sensuality. This book doesn't disappoint.
Having met the scandalous and most sought after artist Nicolas Craven who just happened to have rescued her form being accosted one night, she thought he might be just what she needed. He thought her a servant, and as such, offered her his card wishing she would come and model for him. Working out an elaborate ruse with her best friend so that her family thought she was away in Scotland, she approached Nicolas as the servant he thought her to be, saying she had just been tossed from her position.
Nicolas was not immune to a woman's charms - he'd had several models and affairs, none ever lasting longer than a month or so or until the painting was done - quite a lover but never in love. Divine sexual satisfaction would be all they would get from him - but nothing more. Merry knew this, but the feelings he stirred in her were also something she would have no control over - and for that matter, she had no intention of ever marrying anyhow so...
The nude painting of her was done, the centerpiece of Nicolas' exhibition. Merry's original intent was to scandalize herself in the eyes of the ton but when it came right down to it she was a coward to face her parents. She ran again, still not telling Nicolas who she was, she took him up on an offer to see Venice. Her brothers finally caught up with her and dragged her home. Leaving Nicolas feeling bitter and betrayed.
Both Nicolas and Merry had secrets they hid from one another - their true identities were one, Nicolas' son another, as well as the love they both began to feel towards one another. They both gained from the relationship as well, Merry, finally realizing that she was beautiful when seen through Nicolas' eyes, and Nicolas, opening up to finally tell her the truth about his son and, knowing he loved her, the strength to admit who he truly was and to try to live up to be the person Merry deserved.
I really liked this story. I love the fact that both of these people grew so much. It took a bitter parting and time, but they needed the time to discover hidden strengths within themselves. The sex in this story was really, really hot - more so I think than the first novel - but tastefully done. It was a very good story, again, not for the faint hearted but one I would definitely recommend.
I have been looking for years for what I call "non-schlocky romance." Ms Holly's writing is so evocative, she really paints a picture with words without falling into hackneyed phrases and imagery. Her characters really come to life and aren't just cardboard cutouts. Most writers seem to take one from Column A and two from Column B when they "invent" characters and you never really quite care about them! In fact, some you can't wait for them to die, they are so damned annoying.
I also really appreciate the *mature* (i.e., descriptive) approach to the sex scenes. More than anything I can't stand that "the next morning, they woke and..." that leaves you feeling so ripped off. If anyone is offended by frank sex I assume they wouldn't be reading this book to begin with, and that leaves the rest of us who enjoy reading what goes on between the sheets, esp. when the hero is three-dimensional and has an actual flaw or two.
For the readers who don't believe Victorians talked/acted so bawdy, the Victorian era produced more erotic literature than almost any other social time in history. The strict moral codes of the time forced erotic writing underground. As a result, one of the most restrained and moralistic of periods is also responsible for some of the most explicit erotica of all time. So yes, I think they really talked like that!
That said, one little niggling anachronistic nitpick: "bollocks" (bollix) wasn't used in popular speech till 1937. But with everything else so great about this book, who cares?! :):)