St Martin’s Press, $6.99, ISBN 0-312-98763-3
Historical Romance, 2003
A good seduction requires an element of, if not originality, then something fresh and exciting. Just like yet another same old candlelight dinner at the same old el cheapo place with the same old menu, The Perfect Seduction feels more like a routine and mechanical effort from Leslie LaFoy to get some… thing from me instead of a genuinely exciting attempt to seduce me into her story. How can it be when it stars the same old cast of Wounded Feisty Heroine, Fake Rake, and Three Little Children? The same old babysitting slash making excuses for the hero’s behavior story, the familiar virtue and becoming a nanny/lover overcomes rakish behavior tale, this story is tottering on the stale side.
Serephina Treadwell is left in charge of the three daughters of her late parents’ friends in their home at Belize City near the Gulf of Mexico when these girls’ parents go charging off into Belize. Six months pass without a word from the parents, and when their funds dry up and our artist heroine can’t make enough to feed the children, they all take off to London so that Serephina can deposit the girls to their half-uncle Carden Reeves’s doorstep. Serephina, of course, expects to stay and make sure that Carden does his duties with his nieces. As expected, they arrive to find him in a state of dishabille.
Serephina has been married to an abusive bastard before and now she doesn’t trust men. But she and Carden’s sister-in-law are already from the get go talking about how Carden turns out much better than he could have been, meaning that Ms LaFoy is here saying that everything wrong in Carden’s life is his cold and uncaring mommy’s fault. Then Serephina is weeping at his sad story and who cares that he is a rake? He has such a sad childhood, so he’s alright, people. Why don’t we all go visit the men’s correction facility today and marry the convict with the saddest childhood? Your honor, it is not his fault that he is an irresponsible man because his mother made him do it! His mother made him whore around! His lack of direction in life is his mother’s fault! Serephina understands and her love will change him, you’ll see, blah blah unintelligent and tired romanticization of rakes blah blah blah.
I am not objecting to the presence of rakes in general, just to make this clear. I am objecting to an author making out the hero a rake and then having this hero’s rakish behavior conveniently blamed on someone else without trying to actually show this rake hero wanting to change in a convincing manner. Serephina clutching at any excuses to weep for the hero and justify his actions for him makes her the type of enabler that will allow the hero to treat her like dirt. How lucky for her that Carden is thankfully not a jerk – he’s more like a standard commitment-phobe misunderstood sad little boy type.
The author adds in some rushed external conflict that doesn’t have any function that to provide the usual dramatic finish to force the hero and the heroine together closer. With its tired and formulaic romance complete with the same old tired treatment of rakes, an uninspired secondary cast, and more, The Perfect Seduction is more like a limp noodle that can’t get up and do its job properly to everyone’s satisfaction.