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Monday, January 11, 2010

Proof by Seduction by Courtney Milan

Proof by Seduction by Courtney Milan
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Historical
Length: Full (345 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Camellia

She was his last chance for a future of happiness.

A gifted fortune-teller from a humble background, Jenny can make even the most sophisticated skeptic believe her predictions simply by batting her smoky eyelashes. Until she meets her match in Gareth Carhart, the Marquess of Blakely, a sworn bachelor and scientist.

He just didn't know it yet

Broodingly handsome, Gareth is scandalized to discover his cousin has fallen under the spell of "Madame Esmerelda," and vows to prove Jenny a fraud. But his unexpected attraction to the fiery enchantress defies logic. Jenny disrupts every facet of Gareth's calculated plan - until he can't decide whether to seduce her or ruin her. Now, as they engage in a passionate battle of wills, two lonely souls must choose between everything they know.and the boundless possibilities of love.

When Lord Blakely says, “Who would think you my equal?”, it cuts deep but it did not reach the warm, still center of her being that is the REAL Jenny Keeble. However, the harsh remark haunts Lord Blakely in his loneliness as he realizes Jenny is not his equal but is better than he is. She overcame and stayed human under worse conditions than he had ever experienced.

Abandonment leaves scars that never quite heal, but Jenny Keeble finds ways to cover them so they do not hurt so badly and are not visible. As Madame Esmeralda the fortune-teller, she makes a living without being a kept woman. She knows she sells platitudes. However, lacking birth to fit her education and lacking education to fit her birth” limits her options for making her way in the world. Smart, beautiful, observant of people, and always true to herself, Jenny keeps the “warm, still center” of her being secure deep within and apart from all the trappings. Even though she has never been valued by others, she values herself.

When Ned Carhart asks Madame Esmeralda, “Is there any reason I shouldn’t kill myself”, she sees a boy at his wits’ end, in deep depression and tells him that she sees happiness in his future—a prediction he clings to as he makes his way from despair to confidence. However, not his wealth, his titled family, nor his duty to learn how to be a future marquis help him mature into a responsible adult. When Madame Esmeralda forces him to stop depending on her and insists it is “time to be a man on your own” , Ned truly makes a mess of his life, but, with tough love, Jenny sets him on a path to manhood that allows him to standup for himself and to reach out for happiness.

Ned’s cousin, the austere, scientific-minded Lord Blakely a marquis, tries to bend Ned to his will and to prove Madame Esmeralda is a fraud, charlatan, and a liar. Like Jenny, Lord Blakely feels abandoned and forced into the role of marquis. Once a boy named Gareth, he now feels encased in the façade of Lord Blakely with all the responsibilities his grandfather drilled into him harshly. By the time, the grandfather finished shaping his grandson; Gareth’s personality had all but disappeared leaving only the unfeeling, caustic Lord Blakely. When Madame Esmeralda “out thinks” him and traps him into performing tasks that will supposedly prove whether she is a fraud or not, the marquis bristles but cannot resist the challenge nor can he deny the sensual challenge he feels when he looks at her. Under all the garish costume of Madame Esmeralda, he sees a flesh and blood goddess that sends his libido into overdrive. His marquis training does not serve him well in his dealing with this tempting woman.

The beautiful and magical imagery Courtney Milan uses in her writing makes PROOF BY SEDUCTION a feast for the senses. The humor that erupts at times is delightful, but the best part is the ever present undercurrent of two very lonely souls longing to love and be loved by someone who respects and treasures them for who they are deep inside, not for the outside façade. Without the artificial façade of Madame Esmeralda and Lord Blakely, Jenny and Gareth are two souls that suffered abandonment and long to find that place called “home”—where unconditional abides. How they get there makes an enthralling story.