by Kayla Gray, historical (2009)
Zebra, $4.99, ISBN 978-1-4201-0191-1
Seducer features a privateer hero bent on revenge and a heroine on the run.
Madelaine Hartwell's father sells her to Geoffrey, his business acquaintance, in return for some money and Madelaine escapes rape by knocking Geoffrey out cold with a candlestick. Despite the fact that no romance heroine has ever actually killed a man with a blow in the head, Madelaine is convinced that she has killed Geoffrey. Naturally, a woman of virtue such as her would turn herself in and face the repercussions of her heinous crime of homicide, but she'd rather flee Charleston. Hence, she is now plagued by remorse and guilt. She has some aunt in England, but she can't run to that woman as Madelaine would rather not inflict her shame on them. Remember, she's a hideous murderer now. What, don't tell her aunt that she killed a man, you say? You such an immoral wretch to even suggest that Madeline, like, oh my god, lie, eeeuw.
At the port, while trying to find her personal Titanic-style romance, Madelaine immediately helps and befriends Olivia Bradford. Olivia offers to take her in as her companion during the journey and let Madelaine accompany her to Virginia. Alas, the ship Oxford is captured by our privateer Captain Angel. Kane Graham, our hero, plunders and pillages ships bound for England under the moniker "Captain Angel". When he learns that the fiancée of his enemy is onboard, he has a plan. Because he is such a man's man, he will avenge himself on this enemy by seducing and abandoning the fiancée. Unknown to him, Madelaine decides to switch places with Olivia, so he has no idea that the woman he is valiantly penetrating in the name of noble revenge is the wrong person. Of course, when he finds out, he blames Madelaine for wrecking his plan for revenge. He will make her pay, pay, pay. Oh, and surprise, Geoffrey is still alive. Guess whose head he is after.
Madelaine starts out a complete idiot, miraculously discovers her spine and even tells Kane off for being a bastard who wants to abuse an innocent woman in the name of revenge during her time onboard Kane's ship, and turns into a complete idiot again once she's off the boat (heh, there's a joke in there somewhere, I'm sure). As for Kane, he is a self-absorbed asshole in and out - wanting to seduce a woman in the name of revenge marks him as a weenie king, not a hero, especially when he starts being a baby and lashing out at Madelaine for thwarting his grand plan of vengeance. Late in the story, at page 329, about a dozen or so pages before the grand happily ever after, there is this charming scene where he forces himself on the heroine, taking her "roughly", because this is the last time he'd shag her... before he leaves her for good. Oh, he's doing all this for her own good, of course. Both he and Madelaine are competing at that point to be the biggest dunderhead martyrs of the year, and I just want the two of them dead.
Ms Gray's timing is off because Seducer would have been a hit were it published in 1979 instead of 2009. Okay, back then the editor would probably ask for the insertion at least twenty more scenes where Madelaine would get raped until she couldn't walk straight, but this book would be a better fit for 1979.
Oh, and here's one example of the occasional bewildering writing in this story:
"No, thank you, pirate," she hissed.
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