DIK Reading Challenge Review: Lessons in Seduction by Melissa Schroeder

Tuesday, March 30

Author:  Melissa Schroeder
Series: Book #2 in the Once Upon an Accident series (The Accidental Countess, and The Spy Who Loved Her)
Genre:  Historical romance
Publisher:  Samhain
Format: Print and e-book
Date/Year:  August 2007

This novel is from my own personal collection of romance books (aka the massive TBR)

Summary from the publisher: 

What is a lady to do when her chosen rake changes her lessons in seduction to lessons of love? 

Book two in the Once Upon an Accident series 

Cicely Ware understands how society works. At the age of twenty-six, she has been around long enough to know that she is doomed to spinsterhood. But she refuses to go without ever knowing what it is like to be with a man. So she comes up with a wonderful plan to find a rake to teach her, complete with a list of possibilities. At the top of that list sits Douglas the Duke of Ethingham.

When he asks Lady Cicely to waltz, Douglas never expected her to request seduction, or that it would intrigue him quite as much. With each glance, each smile, each touch, he finds himself falling under her spell, unable to resist her lure. In her he finds a soul mate, someone as lonely as he is, who understands his pain, and will give herself to him without demands or expectations.

But as he finds himself falling in love, he also discovers a wicked plot to kill Lady Cicely. As they race to discover who wants her dead, they fall deeper in love, leaving them to decide if the lessons in seduction could lead to a lifetime of happiness.

Warning, this title contains the following: Explicit love scenes, propositions made on dance floors, mistaken identity of a kissing partner and many scenes of seduction.

My Musings:

I’m just going to come right out and say it…I was disappointed.  More I think from my own built up expectations of what this book would be about than anything drastically wrong with what the author wrote.  I expected Lessons in Seduction to be…well, mostly about lessons in seduction.  

I adored Lady Cicely and thought her approach to experiencing desire fit her personality despite taking place in the stringent rules of the Regency period.  She views herself as a plain spinster, and has issues with her looks and her body, all created and reinforced by her unloving and demented mother.  She has resigned herself to living a single status despite her generous dowry due to scandals in her family. So, the oh so proper and bookish Lady Cicely approaches the Duke of Ethingham because he is the man she has secretly been in love with and is her first choice in a list of potential lovers.  He does not respond well to her request, and denies her despite not wanting another to be the first to experience her passion.

Douglas, the Duke of Ethingham considers Lady Cicely a family friend, and until her makeover /transformation doesn’t even consider her for her looks…as if she were a backdrop in his life;  always there, but disregarded.  A convenience when avoiding matchmaking mothers and their eligible daughters.  He has secretly vowed never to marry because of the bad genes inherently passed down to each generation; cruelty and vice cultivated from father to son...from Duke to Duke.  Consequently, he is passably happy with his bachelor existence.

All of these things are what I loved about the story.  Unfortunately the plot also involved a dangerously hidden secret society that had planned to over throw the monarchy in England much like what had happened in France.  Lady Cicely finds an old diary that divulges thoughts, plans, ideas, and actions taken by this society and finds herself and the book hunted and in perilous danger. 

I felt that this addition to the story was completely unnecessary, and while adequately written, was a disappointing distraction to what I felt was the better story;  Cicely and Douglas overcoming their beliefs and finding love.  The reader is told that Cicely is in love with her Duke without much to base it upon, and Douglas’s love seems to be solely based on her attractiveness after her transformation.  I never felt that the “lessons in seduction” changed into “lessons in love” which is why for me this book was a lesson in dissatisfaction.

There was so much potential in this story because of each of their pasts, and even thinking back on the novel after some time has passed I’m just as disappointed.  Part of that could be because of the enticing blurb and Samhain “Warning” (I happen to love those) that I based my expectations on, and that it had been sitting in my TBR for a very long time despite my desire to read this book… probably even building it up in my mind to be more than what it could ever possibly live up to.  In that respect I have to take part of the responsibility for my disillusionment, but I also strongly believe that Lessons in Seduction would have been a much better story if it would have been solely about Cicely and Douglas and ditched the whole plot of the diary and the danger surrounding it.  Please don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a poorly written story.  And even as it is written, it isn’t really much different than most Regency historical romances except for its shorter length…and maybe that’s the problem.  Maybe the story was trying to be too much for the length of the book (even though Samhain classifies it as a novel) and as a result the romance (not the love scenes but the interaction between the H/h) and reasons for love were sacrificed.  

This is the first book I’ve read by Melissa Schroeder, but despite my beleaguered disappointments in Lessons in Seduction I still plan on reading the rest of the books in the “Once Upon an Accident” series, as well as several of her contemporary books from her “Harmless” series.

Ratings: 3.25 stars

Sensuality:  I would consider this book to be like most historical romances in the Regency period.  On a heat level somewhat like Sabrina Jeffries, but not as hot as Elizabeth Hoyt.

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Tracy March 31, 2010 at 2:36 PM  

I think I would like this book except for the murder plot - just like you. I think that sometimes authors think that the couple can't keep the story going but when they are properly fleshed out the shine. Sorry you didn't care for it.

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