by Cynthia Clement, historical (2005)
Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-7814-5
The cover of this book is simply stunning. It screams "Buy me! Pick me! Love me!" Unfortunately, the story within the pages is best described as "Loathe me! Hate me! Despise me!" With a spineless heroine bent on being a martyr, enough cartoonishly loathsome women to make life for our heroine a pain, and a hero best described as Pepe Le Pew without scruples, The Seduction Of Sarah is more like the tale of the ravishment of a willowy nitwit with the brain the size of a shrivelled pea.
Sarah Wellsley is a widow with the expected lousy past. Saddled with two cartoonishly nasty brothers and now a cartoonishly mean and spiteful cousin whom she serves as a companion (or rather, more like a slave) to, Sarah lives only to tend to sick people using her knowledge of herbs. I suspect that the fumes of those herbs must have damaged her brain a long time ago. Anyway, when she's not playing the dim-witted "I heal! I heal! Herb-Sniffing Barbie, she is skinny-dipping in a nearby lake. This is how our hero Alex the Marquess of Caldern first sees her and quickly he presses himself on her so that she will be his delightful mistress, muah, muah, kiss kiss. Our heroine shrieks nay even as she melts inside under the wet clammy feel of his masterful puckerings against her lips and cheeks and flees back to the comfortable status quo of her pressing herbs against sick people even as people press their heels on her back.
Unfortunately, Alex turns out to be the betrothed of Caroline! Smart and charming Alex quickly, in front of Caroline, starts acting as if Sarah is already his mistress, thus making Caroline hate Sarah even more. If Caroline isn't adorable enough, I am next introduced to Alex's stepmother from hell. Alex on the other hand seems happy to stir the hate against Sarah by actively pitting both his stepmother and Caroline against Sarah by openly sticking his tongue at and running his fingers over Sarah.
This book is a textbook example of idiotic behaviors. Sarah will whine again and again that she doesn't want to be married again but she happily rushes into all sorts of situations with Alex that only has her helpless and hopelessly a victim to her lust under Alex. She has no characterization, apparently because Ms Clement believes that a cartoonish past filled with caricature villains is now synonymous with depths in a character. Oh, and with her herb bag in tow, Sarah is also a martyr to her desire to help people often at the expense of herself. Alex is a complete twit with borderline sociopathic tendencies - he has no concept of personal boundaries at all and he often destroys Sarah's reputation or her standing with his venomous stepmother or other people just to slake his selfish lust.
Maybe next time when Ms Clement sets out to write another sensual historical romance, she will remember that smart is sexy while skankiness and braindead characters aren't. Migraine is the aftereffect of this book and I think I need to lie down now.
This book at Amazon.com
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