Pocket, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4767-8607-0
Historical Romance, 2016
Like many long-time authors who have done very well in establishing themselves as powerhouse names in the genre, Sabrina Jeffries has a formula that she is faithfully keeping to. I don’t blame her, of course, as why should anyone rock the boat when it is doing so well for her? Still, unlike, say, Amanda Quick, the author doesn’t always succeed in making her characters – especially her heroines – likable enough to go back for another bite of the pie, so to speak. And the heroine Lady Clarissa Lindsey is one of the more annoying ones, with the author even helpfully using words like “berating” when it comes to Clarissa… I think she really doesn’t want me to like Clarissa even a little.
Edwin Barlow, the Earl of Blakeborough, doesn’t believe in love, but is attracted to Clarissa. Clarissa is… are you ready? I have the list, and here it goes:
- She scolds everyone for not telling her everything, but she won’t tell Edwin important things even if it means making life so much easier for her.
- She berates people for being morally wanting and not meeting her high standards, but she does the same things herself without any hint of self-awareness.
- She insists that she will never marry, but spends most of the time lamenting that the hero won’t love her.
- She insists that she can’t marry due to a traumatic incident in her past, but she uses this as an excuse to prolong the whole “I love him, but I can’t let him love me back!” drama for another century or two.
- She scoffs at women who cling to men, but the moment any woman shows an interest in Edwin, she complains that this woman is a skank, that woman is a ho, that one is frigid, this one is dumb…
- She insists that she can take care of herself, and she doesn’t need any man to watch over her… and then promptly gets into trouble the moment she is left to her own devices.
- She insists on helping the men do their manly things, despite the fact that she’s only good at being a nuisance, and scolds anyone who dares to disagree with her.
- Her first reaction in any distressing situation is to wag a figurative finger and start scolding people, even if these people hold her life in their hands.
Honestly, the story will be a hundred times more palatable if the heroine’s stupid tendency to nag and berate people is treated like a running joke, but no, this story is such that I don’t think the author is aware of how much of an irritating shrew her heroine is. Of course, shrewish is one thing, but Clarissa’s brand of nag comes with a sack of dumb dumb. This is a heroine who is stalked by the villain for a long time, and the villain has cornered and threatened her that they would be together forever a few times… and she actually thinks that the villain will forget her if she hides in a house a bit before skipping out to go to balls and such. I wish I am joking.
It gets better. Edwin, upon learning that Clarissa is being stalked, decides to protect her by pretending that they are engaged. Her reaction is a predictable no. She will never marry, you see, so he’s better stop with that plan because she will never marry, and has she told everyone that she will never marry? And a few pages later she is scolding him for something she finds wanting. Oh well, it’s just another day when water is wet and the heroine in a historical romance is as dumb as a sack of turnips.
You know what the worst thing is? Clarissa is a typical example of this author’s heroine – a wretched idiot whose priority is all screwed up, because even if she is in danger and she is going to die, she’s preoccupied with the fact that her tainted hoochie does not deserve to clasp the hero’s mighty manliness even for a second. But Clarissa gets the side-eye from me because she’s so freaking annoying. Everything about the story only accentuates her hypocrisy, stupidity, and shrewishness.
Because I can’t care less about Clarissa, and Edwin is basically another hero of this author who doesn’t believe in love – blah, blah, blah – The Study of Seduction is an interminably boring read. I find myself thinking that the villain is the only one with some smarts in this story – the poor guy is in the wrong book; if he’s in a new adult romance story, his creepy-stalking can’t-take-no-for-an-answer ass would have been enshrined on a throne.
Anyway, if I have my way, this book would be re-titled The Burps of Boredom.