Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-7239-2
Historical Romance, 2002
I don’t want to sound like a PC-Nazi, but I find Strictly Seduction an almost offensive Regency-era historical romance. I say “almost” because Shelley Bradley also uses so many stock-and-tried (and overused and predictable) “surprises” in her story that I have to lower my estimation of her authorial skills as a result. Therefore, the whole offensiveness of Strictly Seduction is probably an accidental secondary result of lousy plotting. It’s like a suspicious itch in the groin caused by unthinking sexual promiscuity, I guess. The intention may not be malicious in nature, but oops, the consequences are still there regardless.
Madeline Sedgewick is a miserable widow. She and her daughter Aimee are so heavily in debts, she is on her way to debtor’s prison if a mysterious benefactor hasn’t paid off her debts. Not that she has a happy life before. See, her husband and That One Night brutalized her psyche so bad that she is now against marriage, blah blah blah, oh, I’m so sad, I think I’m weeping a river of blood in my pain.
Her mysterious benefactor is her ex-boyfriend whom she parted in a big miscommunication situation, a no-title guy named Brock Taylor. He’s rich now, of course, and he wants a piece of land Maddie owns. What, you cry? Maddie has land and here she is, starving, you cry? Well, the land is such that Maddie can only pass it on to her husband. Or something. Brock wants that land, so he now coerces Maddie to either marry him or he will toss her and daughter to prison.
Be still, my heart. My loins are aching for such a sexy dude. Ms Bradley can sure know how to set my desires alight. I think I’ll leave my husband and shack up with that drunkard next door. What do you think?
Oh, and guess who is Aimee’s secret daddy.
This story has Maddie permanently in victim mode. She has to act to save her daughter, save her cat, save the orphans, save the doggies. Of course, Ms Bradley will try to compensate by making Maddie experience great cleansing sex with Brock, who lives up to his name alright throughout the whole story. Brock off, Brock. There’s no hiding how unequal – disturbingly unequal – Maddie and Brock are in the playing field – Brock and the world pull every one of Maddie’s strings. World and Brock say bark, Maddie gets down on all fours and goes “Woof! Woof!”
Anyway, if there are others out there who find such rescue stories fascinating, where everyone and the hero use the heroine as a public toilet and the heroine takes it all because she has no choice, but hey, like Ms Bradley says, this is love, hey, go for it.