Caroline Linden, $1.99
Historical Romance, 2017
The Secret of My Seduction is a short story that is tied closely to Caroline Linden’s Scandals series. If you have read those books, you may recall that a key theme uniting those books is the anonymously-penned Fifty Ways to Sin. Given how successful that serial is, our heroine Bathsheba Crawford not only enjoyed vicariously all those exquisite delights the inserting of slot A into tab B, C, D, E… anyway, those tabs can bring, she was also inspired to write her own serial, Tales of Lady X. I think the author is trying to do a meta thing about how that you-know-what series inspired a slew of copycats and bandwagon hoppers, and if she is, she’s not doing it correctly as we are only talking about one bandwagon hopper here.
Anyway, when the story opens, Bathsheba decides that she has fallen into a rut. In order to take Lady X’s coital adventures to new heights, she will experience these adventures herself first. And that’s why, when romance authors get annoyed whenever readers ask them whether they’ve really stuck a grapefruit up that dark and scary place of theirs just like their heroes did to those heroines, we will show them books like this one and ask them to direct their indignation to authors who perpetuate this belief that when you write about something, you must really love doing that something on a regular basis.
She approaches her publisher Liam MacGregor to be the penis that will inspire her prose to new heights. At first, he balks because her brother is his BFF. But when she announces that she’d just find another guy to get inspiration from, he decides to be that guy to arrange all kinds of sexy adventures for the two of them. Hence, this story. They do it like this, like that, this way, that way… but alas, this story never really crosses the line into truly erotic romance territory where I am concerned, as the positions and tab-slotting are all on the vanilla side. Still, it’s hard to object to two people who have so much fun doing all those things in bed. More power to them.
And then, she admits that she’s in love with him all along, which spoils my mood. This could be a move perhaps calculated to prevent the heroine from coming off as too slatternly, perhaps, although why the author wants to do this after Bathsheba has done all kinds of happy prostitute stuff with Liam is beyond me. The whole thing is like a belated “Oops! No whore!” reminder long after the ship has sailed. After that, they get married and it’s end.
The Secret to My Seduction is actually not much of a story, come to think of it. The characters are basically Mr Tab A and Miss Slot B, the premise is there to facilitate the bedroom activities, and there is a happy ending tacked on to remind readers that everything in the pages happen due to true love rather than immoral skankery. The author is too much of a professional to deliver a badly written book, but I suspect I may feel more satisfied with this story if the paper-thin plot has been supplemented by love scenes that are actually erotic rather than just being a little bit steamier than the usual mainstream historical romance stuff.