by Amanda Quick, historical (1990)
Bantam, $4.99, ISBN 0-553-59027-8

Seduction marks the debut of Amanda Quick, Jayne Ann Krentz's alterego for historical romances, and I have to say, this is to date the only book by Amanda Quick that I actually loathe. This is entirely due to the hero who is one of the most infuriating donkeys ever written by this author.

The plot is simple. Our hero, Julian "Asshole? Try Two Assholes" Sinclair, decides that it's time he gets an heir so he picks Sophy Dorring, some countrified lass, to be his wife. She's sweet, from all accounts malleable, and loves the countryside, so in his opinion that makes her the perfect wife to breed on and forget. However, Sophy decides that she'd make Julian love her first before they get to the breeding part. Julian balks, of course, because he's had enough of that love thing from his late first wife who is the biggest whore that ever whored if you ask him. And so the game begins.

The problem with this book is simple. Early on, Sophy brings up Mary Wallstonecraft and how her idol wrote that marriage is nothing but a trap for women. By the end of the story, I try to figure out why she will want anything to do with Julian. Julian is one hot mess of asshole behavior in this story. The poster boy of Madonna/Whore complex here is arrogant and unbelievably dense, which makes a fatal combination in my opinion. He puts Sophy through so much nonsense here, such as when he thinks he's a Jane Feather hero as he humiliates her by parading his mistress before her in front of everyone, when he's not acting as if he's above having to honor his promises to her because his previous wife was a bitch but heaven helps Sophy if she dares to arouse his paranoid jealousy. Julian doesn't deserve a wife. He deserves a second rear end orifice, preferably inflicted by the use of a rusty electric drill.

That grand scene towards the end where the hero seduces the heroine into complying with his wishes is one scene that still makes my blood boil every time I reread it, I tell you. Never mind that her insistence on playing superheroine for his sake is stupid, the fact that he can so easily manipulate her when he's already caused her enough grief has me wanting to give this man a third rear end orifice. For all I know, Ms Quick wants me to sigh over how these two are willing to go all out to protect each other for some grand love or something, but with Julian being who he is, I'm not buying it.

So what does Sophy get in the end? A necklace, a vague promise of fidelity and true love after all the heartaches he has put her through, and a kid. One can argue that the baby is what he wanted all along, so yeah, score one for the asshole. I'm depressed after reading this book, which is a first given that I am usually a very big fan of this author. I like the unexpectedly sweet gay-friendly treatment of Sophy's dear elderly companions, but that's about it for silver linings in this book where I am concerned.

Rating: 50

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