St Martin’s Press, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-312-38183-7
Historical Romance, 2011
Emma Hallaway and her husband Richard Mansfield, the Earl of Ashbury have been married for twelve years or so, but she has not seen him since the wedding night. It was a marriage arranged by their parents, you see, and he pretty much ditched the wife to sell opium to the good people of the Orient, cavort in brothels, and such.
They bump into each other again at his favorite brothel in England when she sneaks in trying to confront a pest who has a nude painting of hers. Emma has been an artist all this while, and for some reason she just has to paint herself naked. Of course, she doesn’t care about her reputation, but she has her sister to think about. Don’t ask me why, therefore, Emma chooses to put her private parts on display in a canvas. Maybe she did it for the same reason famous guys self capture images of themselves holding their pee-pees and then squeal when those images ended up online for everyone to see.
Never mind that he’s been sticking his happily married pee-pee into all kinds of women – Richard is furious that his wife dares to sneak into a brothel like that. After a while, Richard decides that he wants to settle down and be a good husband, and he’s going to make Emma agree. Emma spends a while trying to put up a fight even as she shivers with desire, but no matter, Emma’s sisters decide to give the reunion shag a push by telling Emma that she will get to paint her sisters in the nude should she jump through their hoops.
Here’s the thing. The Seduction of His Wife is about reunions, always a tricky subject considering that the hero is a jerk and there will be some effort needed to turn this pig into a prince. Unfortunately, Ms Clare tells too much and shows too little here. As a result, I’m practically told what the characters are doing and feeling, but I am given very little insight into what motivates these characters to do or feel those things. Because of this, I can only wonder why Emma’s family is so quick to accept Richard when that man walked out on her twelve years ago and never bothered to write or call ever since. Or why Emma can feel desire still for such a man. Yes, he’s gorgeous, or so I’m told, but surely, it must be more realistic for her to feel a greater degree of anger at the way he treated her. Richard gets away with his nonsense very easily here because the author contrives to have Emma and her family take him back without much effort on his part to make amends.
The author’s prose is also on the monotonous and boring side. There are too many short simple sentences constructed in the same staccato manner, which, coupled with the constant telling and little showing, gives me this impression that this book was hastily written because the author had a train to catch by noon or something.
The Seduction of His Wife could work if I were given more insight into what is happening in the characters’ heads, and the author makes it harder for her characters to get back together. Their antics here don’t gel with the fact that the husband abandoned the wife without a care for twelve years – they behave more like hormonal kids having a spat on Prom Night. I don’t know, really. This book could pass muster, but a complete overhaul is needed for that to happen.