Review for Seduction, by Amanda Quick:
I'm usually not a huge fan of Amanda Quick--I have little tolerance for suspense plots interfering with all the lovin'. But Seduction is the best of her books that I've read so far, and held my attention from the first page to the last.
The story opens with Julian, Earl of Ravenwood, proposing to Sophy Dorring. Actually, he technically proposes to her grandfather, but to him it's all the same. Having already suffered one disastrous marriage, he now wants to marry a simple, off-the-market country woman who will bring him "an heir and no trouble." Sophy, who has been secretly in love with the Earl for years, agrees to the marriage but envisions a much different relationship than Julian expects. Over the next few months, as the two get to know each other, there are plenty of antics and conflicts that make Julian's "No trouble" dream seem laughable. It doesn't help that Sophy is on a mission to avenge her dead sister, and constantly gets herself into trouble (according to Julian).
As a character, Julian is a bit of a harda*s, but he very quickly lightens up. His only problem is that, having been cuckolded numerous times by his first wife, he's hella paranoid of any betrayal from Sophy, or of any unfavorable gossip about his marriage. On the whole, he's stubborn, possessive, smart, sexy, insecure, and perfectly enjoyable.
Sophy is a delight. She's a mixture of lots of other great characters I've read-- she's a bit Hermione Granger, a bit Daisy Bowman (Kleypas' Wallflowers), a bit Ellie Wycombe (Quinn's Brighter than the Sun). She is wacky and sort of scattered, stubborn, really sharp, and completely outrageous. She's a true feminist, too, which is a rare treat in a romance novel. Everything she does is completely insane but understandable, and she's an adorable heroine.
The story itself was actually really funny! Julian's and Sophy's conflicts were usually amusing, something I didn't expect from Quick. Also, the suspense plot actually weaves perfectly well into the rest of the storyline, and only pops up at opportune moments. Sophy and Julian made a perfect match, the pacing of their relationship was neither too slow nor fast, and the sex scenes were kinda hot.
There were only a few drawbacks. The first and most glaring was that their relationship was too easy. Julian had earned the nickname "devil" before the beginning of the novel, for his cold, heartless persona, but that quickly disappears with Sophy. He really did not hold true to that whole image, at all, and Sophy's endeavor to "teach the devil to love again" was not that hard. And of course, we want romances to be hard, don't we? When Julian eventually confesses his love, I thought it came after an appropriate interval--not an interval extended by some man's frozen heart. Another problem was the whole thing about Sophy being in love with Julian for years. It added nothing to the story, and she didn't even act like she was in love most of the time, anyway (except when appropriate).
So mostly this novel was a great read, a lot of fun, and I give it a B+.