by Sarah Holland, contemporary (1995)
Harlequin Mills & Boon, RM4.35, ISBN 0-06-051769-7
Sarah Holland's Master Of Seduction is one I found at the used bookstore in Central Market, Kuala Lumpur. Figuring that there is nothing better to read on a train ride than a book with a cover of two people cavorting in their underwear on a bed, this book is an easy purchase on my part. Instead of naughty sex scenes or genuinely poignant romantic scenes, though, this book instead offers plenty of laughs with its unintentionally hilarious scenes.
Emma Baccarat doesn't believe in men and love after seeing how her father and her ex-husband turned out to be. While on a yacht trip with her friends, she meets Patrick Kinsella, the millionaire who is as well known for his amorous pursuits as he is with his business acumen. For Patrick, it's love at first sight. Or rather, during their first heavy petting scene, he tells her that he feels "something more" than the usual horny toad hormones-gone-wild feelings. For Emma, it's her acting as if Patrick is some vampire and she has to somehow keep him away from her precious body at all costs.
Emma's overreaction is a little on the extreme side and Sarah Holland seems to be aware of this because she has Patrick accusing Emma of being childish many times in this story. Emma, however, keeps acting like she will just die if she happens to fall in love with Patrick. However, at the same time she has no discipline or willpower as she constantly succumbs to Patrick's heavy-petting tendencies. Unfortunately, she always recover her senses during those moments so I am subjected to too many "OMIGOD, WE NEARLY HAD SEX - I HATE YOOOOOOUUUUUUU!" scenes for my liking. Emma constantly blames Patrick for her own lapses and it doesn't reflect well on her or her sanity. A few therapy sessions - or a super booster shot of tranquilizer - will have done her a lot of good. I honestly have no idea what Patrick sees in this hysterical nitwit. His reputed indiscrimination when it comes to being a tomcat aside, Patrick seems like a pretty nice guy compared to Emma. Patrick, however, also has this tendency not to listen to Emma. I don't blame him because Emma is too annoying for words but his tendency to brush aside her feelings doesn't bode well for these two as a happily-ever-after couple.
But there are plenty of funny scenes in this book, although I don't think they are meant to be funny. A priceless example is how Emma interrupts a heavy-petting session to start scolding Patrick because they are moving past second base when they don't even know each other well (you know, hobbies and all that). Patrick, understandably frustrated that happy hour is over (again), tells her that this isn't the time for Emma to turn all Ally McBeal on him. Emma then shrieks about what a heartless cad he is because he'd rather boink her than to tell her about his ex-wife and how if he "cares" about her, he'd prove it by not shagging her.
That nonsense of how he must prove his love to her by not shagging her is not the first time that Emma plays such games on Patrick in this book, which again reflects very poorly on Emma. Indeed, while Patrick often comes off as silly for indulging her and coming back for more, Emma comes off worse as some manipulative creature, as if she isn't bad enough already as a hysterical frigid bitch.
Master Of Seduction is one of those "so bad it's fabulous" books for me. The heroine acts like it's the end of the world if she goes to third base with the hero, the hero acts like it's the end of the world if she doesn't, and the whole story comes off like a trainwreck dysfunctional marriage in the making. Ultimately, the trashiness of the romance is the saving grace of this book.
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