Tuesday, March 1, 2011
The Seduction of Sara is the lively conclusion to Karen Hawkins's trilogy of passionate Regency historical romances. Saraphina Lawrence is a willful young woman, as magnificent as the Lawrence sapphires she proudly wears. She wed once for passion and was widowed scandalously when her bridegroom fell from a carriage while coupling with his mistress. Now, faced with an ultimatum from her brothers - remarry and live quietly and respectably, or lose the income that supports the independent life she loves - Sara is quick to plan her strategy. Exiled to the dull town of Bath for the Season, she must find a gentleman who is socially acceptable, tolerable in looks and manners and, most important, willing to let Sara have her way in all matters. Her search is going poorly when she hits upon a splendid plan involving Nicholas Montrose, the notorious Earl of Bridgeton (the irresistible villain in need of redemption who was introduced in Hawkins's first book, The Abduction of Julia). Nick wants Sara for his mistress, and she thinks it would be splendid to have such a masterful lover teach her the art of seduction, hoping to use those new skills to lure a suitably compliant man to the altar. It would be hard to say whether Nick or Sara is more surprised when Sara practices the wiles Nick taught her on Nick himself - and the man who swore he'd never marry is tempted to propose to the one woman who has promised she will never be his bride.
The first book that I ever read by Karen Hawkins, An Affair to Remember, was great, I loved it. But, little did I know that even though it was the first of Hawkin's St. John Talisman Ring Series, there was a prequel to it. I suspected as much, for there were many references to the hero's sister, Sara and her recent marriage. The Seduction of Sara is the prequel.
But, being the stickler that I am, I had to start at the beginning of the previous series - the Rogues Trilogy - to get to Sara's story. I didn't mind, the first two books weren't bad, albeit not as great as the first two in the St. John Series. Still, that's understandable, being Hawkins' first efforts. Finally, having finished The Seduction of Sara, how ironic that it turned out to be my least favorite of the three! Overall it was disappointing in comparison to her other books, but not bad. One problem is I'm not a big reformed rake fan. Nick, the hero is not all that likable a character. He was the cad in the first of the series (reminiscent of Lisa Kleypas' Devil in Winter) and Sara was too ditzy with her hare brained schemes to find a malleable husband that will allow her to do what she wants in order to avoid having her brothers marry her off to some old fogey. It was such a ludicrous idea, I found it hard to believe she kept pursuing it! But, at least now I know what Sara's story is so I don't feel so clueless while reading the St. John series moving forward.
Sara is a wild child, the only girl in a large family of brothers. Widowed at a young age to a scapegrace husband who was a philanderer, she now wants to have fun herself! Her brothers are afraid she's going to cause a huge scandal eventually and want her married off, safely out of the way of danger. They ship her off to Bath in hopes that it will calm her down and put some sense into her head. While there, she meets Nick Montrose, who has just returned from the Continent after winning an estate in a hand of cards. He has a reputation as a rake of the first order, yet he now wants to settle down, fix up his new place which is outside of Bath and try to do some good before he goes insane. Yes, he is convinced that he will eventually lose his mind due to the terrible headaches that come over him. His mother had the same problem and she eventually became addicted to laudanum and died in an accident. Because of this, Nick is determined never to marry, although that won't stop him from having a mistress. As soon as he sees the delectable Sara Lawrence he sets his sights on her as his next conquest.
She, on the other hand, has other plans. She wants a husband that she can manage with no strings attached. She singles out a few bachelors that look promising but none of them work out. Meanwhile she is becoming more and more tempted by the handsome Nicholas Montrose who enjoys rescuing her from her aborted attempts at propositioning men! Before long it's obvious they have the hots for one another and Sara's brother catches them (nearly) in the act and forces them to marry. So much for Nick's plan never to marry. But then he comes up with the ridiculous notion that to avoid bringing a child into the world with his malady he will never sleep with Sara again (even though they already have once and it was mind blowing and unforgettable). Poor Sara is looking forward at least to that part of her forced marriage only to find out her new hubby is avoiding her at all costs! Bummer!
As you can imagine, it gets worse. Nick feels he needs to be even more noble and he tries to force Sara to leave him of her own accord by making it look like he has dumped her for a former mistress. Luckily, Sara shows some smarts (finally) and sees through his sham performance while in the arms of his ex. Luckily, she does eventually find out what his problem is and tries to help and they get back together, but overall this was a tiresome romance, though I liked the little side story romance between Sara's aunt and chaperon (a fortyish widowed duchess) and Nick's friend, an aging roue, posing as a French nobleman to lure rich women to his bed. He turns out to be a dear and I really liked him!
Although I wasn't crazy about this book it hasn't dampened my interest in Hawkins' other books. I'm eager to resume the St. John Series after this minor bump in the road.