Lady of Seduction by Laurel McKee
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Length: Full Length (384 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 books
Reviewed by Azalea
It's a mad, ill-advised journey that leads the usually sensible Lady Caroline Blacknall to the legendary isle of Muirin Inish, off the windswept coast of Ireland. Even so, she doesn't expect to find herself shipwrecked and then rescued by a man she believed she would never see again. A man who, long ago, held her life in his hands . . . and with it, her heart.
Reformed rake Sir Grant Dunmore knew he could never forget the beautiful woman he once endangered nor will he ever forgive himself. But history seems doomed to repeat itself, for as long as Caroline stays on the island, she is trapped in a secret plot that could forever free Ireland-or turn deadly for all. And yet, now that she is in his arms again, how can he dream of ever letting her go?
Lady Caroline Hartley sets off on a mad, secret journey to windswept Muirin Inish, an island off the Irish coast, ostensibly to find an ancient manuscript, but also to find the man she's never been able to forget...Grant Dunmore.
The recently widowed and youngest Blacknall sister, bookish Caroline finds herself shipwrecked, and then rescued by the very man she was traveling to see. Grant Dunmore carries the bedraggled Caroline to his island castle where she is bathed, fed, and given clean clothing. Puzzling to Caroline is Grant's change. Not only is the once devastatingly handsome former rake scarred in face and body, he is a loner, quiet and secretive, yet he still pulls Caroline in a way she's never before felt. Marriage to her much older husband was a companionable mating but not a passionate one. Now, she's on a hunt to find the Chronicle of Kildare, which she suspects Grant still possesses. What she discovers is much, much more—lust, danger, and adventure only read about in her books, but never experienced.
Grant, estranged cousin to the Duke of Adair, has forsaken his pro-Union stance and now works on redeeming himself. He's on a secret and dangerous mission which he refuses to reveal to Caroline. However, as they spend time together, and as the danger ratchets up, he realizes two things: he's never forgotten his desire for the bluestocking young woman who seems not at all repulsed by his disfigurement and they seem to take turns rescuing one another.
When they have to flee the island for Dublin, Grant trusts Caroline enough to tell her part of his plan. Caroline must now decide if Grant has truly changed from the self-serving man he was, even though she doesn't know the real reason for their trip to Dublin or who he's going to meet. What she does know is that she's never before felt passion as she does with Grant, and can she bear to part from him once they reach their destination?
Lady of Seduction is book three in Ms. McKee's Daughters of Erin. I enjoyed very much the story of Caroline and Grant, loved his transformation from rake to concerned lover and patriot. Both characters are well drawn, and the setting of Ireland following the 1798 uprising and Unification is one not commonly written about in historical romances and I appreciated its unique appeal.
This Irish history enthusiast felt Ms. McKee did her homework well. That said, there were a few bothersome items: initially, Caroline's purpose seemed somewhat indecisive. She was all over the map with her feelings and I felt both Caroline and Grant could have declared their feelings for each other sooner than they did. Also, there are multiple uses of the term “climax” for orgasm which etymologically did not come into use until 1918, which was a bit too anachronistic for this linguistic purist. I also wondered why Grant uttered numerous Irish exclamations but never used Irish phrases at any other time.
Despite the niggles, other readers will enjoy Caroline's and Grant's story as I did, and will warm to a well-conceived, unique plot. Ms. McKee does an outstanding job with setting, drama and sensuality and populates her stories with enchanting characters.