Seduction and Scandal

Charlotte Featherstone
Seduction and Scandal
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HQN Books
Release Date
June 2011
Book 1 of The Brethren Guardians
Historical Romance

With the scandalous nature of her birth to live down, Isabella Fairmont dreams of a proper marriage—even if a passionless one. She saves her deepest desires for the novel she dares to pen, wherein a handsome lord with dark powers seduces her. But then her courtship with an appropriate suitor is threatened by the sudden attentions of the reclusive Earl of Black…whose pale blue eyes and brooding sensuality are exactly as she described in her book.
Isabella tries to resist the mysterious Earl of Black.

Yet as he pursues her, with inexplicable knowledge of her past and kisses that consume her, Isabella fears she will succumb.

If only the earl could tell Isabella the truth. With very real, and treacherous, thieves endangering her life, Black will need to protect Isabella from the very people she trusts the most….

Book Review by CarolAnn
Sep 20, 2011   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
193 people found the following review helpful
Having read and loved Addicted by Charlotte Featherstone, I couldn't wait to read the first book in her Brethren Guardians series, SEDUCTION & SCANDAL. Full of passion, suspense, mystery and intrigue, it promised to be a compelling read.

Following the death of her grandmother and her mother, Isabella Fairmount went to live with her uncle, the Marquis of Stonebrook and her cousin, Lucy. Isabella's mother had let her passionate nature rule her life, leaving her ruined, alone and destitute with a young child to look after. Fearing that she has inherited her mother's wanton wild streak, Isabella is determined not to make the same mistakes. She wants a marriage that will bring her constancy, security and affection, and the academic Wendell Knighton seems the perfect choice of husband.

Only Lucy knows of the novel Isabella is writing in which the dark, enigmatic figure of Lord Death seduces the heroine. She pours all her suppressed passionate desires into her writing. When she meets the reclusive, mysterious and charismatic Earl of Black, she finds herself captivated by him with his hair as black as night and his pale blue eyes, just like Lord Death in her novel! She is determined to resist Black's seduction, however wonderful he makes her feel, not wanting to follow in her mother's footsteps, but Black is relentless in his pursuit. In fact, Black has watched and wanted Isabella for the past two years but scandal and family secrets have kept him from approaching her but now he can no longer contain his desire for her.

But Black has a mission he must fulfill. Together with the Duke of Sussex and the Marquis of Alynwick, they form the Brethren Guardians, each charged with guarding one of the three ancient relics brought back from the Holy Land by their Knights Templar ancestors. The artifacts must be kept hidden because anyone possessing all three would have untold power. Two of the artifacts have gone missing from their hiding place and the Brethren Guardians must find them, unaware that their actions will put both Isabella and Lucy in grave danger.

Having read some of the rave reviews, I know I am definitely in the minority but I found this book really disappointing. I'm not fond of Gothic novels and so I think my main problem with the book is the strong Gothic tone especially in the scenes between Black and Isabella. For me, the over-dramatic declarations somehow seem to diminish sensual chemistry between them and the scenes feel stilted:

Looking deep into his eyes, Isabella licked her lips, her mouth suddenly dry, her breathing harsh behind her tight corset and the cuirass bodice of her gown. "My lord, this is reckless".

"Reckless, dangerous, irresponsible, yes," he murmured as he pressed against her, his chest slowly, inexorably pushing her backward till she was lying on the carriage bench and he was looming over her. "It is all those things, but it is also unavoidable, inevitable, inescapable."

I couldn't help but compare this to a similar situation in Addicted by the same author:

His eyes darkened and he rose from the settee, stalking her so that she stepped back from him. Towering above her, he stared down at her with his penetrating gaze.

No words are actually spoken but, to me, this scene is full of sexual tension.

The romantic element in their relationship seems sadly lacking. It always seems to be more about lust and need than love such as when Black says:

"I want you to close your eyes, and remember this, this moment between us right now, where our desire and need is so palpable neither of us can resist – where we will just fall into each others' arms without thought or guilt, or fear of repercussions."

This seems totally inconsistent with Black's professed love for Isabella and his wish to protect her.

I must confess that I found the secondary characters more intriguing than the main love story. Lucy was very irritating at times but had fire unlike Isabella and when the reason for her obsession with the supernatural was explained, her actions became more understandable. Following the revelation at the end of the book involving Lucy and the impact it has on the Duke of Sussex who is suffering from unrequited love for her, I certainly want to read the second book in the series, Pride & Passion.

There is also an obvious tension between Elizabeth, the Duke of Sussex's blind sister and the Marquis of Alynwick, and I'm anxious to find out the reason in the third book of the series.
The subplot involving the role of the Brethren Guardians, the artifacts with their potential supernatural powers and the mystery surrounding the identity of Orpheus really held my interest and I will be keen to see the direction the plot takes in the following books.

I would recommend SEDUCTION AND SCANDAL to anyone who enjoys her romances with a definite Gothic vibe but it just wasn't for me.
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