Merry Vance is twenty, athletic, and determined to remain free from what she sees as the tyranny of marriage. Her suitor is a friend she's known all her life, but she doesn't love him. Unbeknownst to Merry and the suitor, the suitor's father, who wants to use their family connections to launch his son's political career, is blackmailing Merry's mother. When Merry's parents threaten to take away her beloved servant, her horses, and her freedom if she doesn't obey, she makes a daring plan.
She pretends to stay out of town with a married female friend, who will send prewritten letters to Merry's parents on her behalf. The notes are structured to let her parents think she's decided to obey them. In truth, she'll be posing nude for Nicolas Craven, a famous artist whom she met by accident. Nic is up front with "Mary" that once the painting is finished, they'll have to part. She knows it's inevitable, because her plan is to allow her reputation to be ruined, so that she'll be freed from the requirement of marriage. But Nic finds himself falling in love, and now must convince his lovely model to stay with him.
Merry is a heroine who makes decisions and follows through on them, even when painful. She has character, and although she errs in judgment at times, she accepts the consequences. Nic is a most sensual hero, who restrains his own passion as he seduces the heroine into desiring him. He tells himself, "Let yourself want… Let yourself wait." But he's also a libertine. Long ago, he had an affair with a married couple who practiced open marriage. Now, he wants Merry only.
Emma Holly's writing is erotic, and at times, scorching. For readers who want spice along with romance, this writer is the best. Her love scenes are descriptive, and the book lives up to its title. Her writing is excellent, as in this wonderful description of an orgasm, "The feeling was chocolate and velvet and kisses rolled into one; comfort, if comfort could shake one like the earth."
This report prepared by Kayelle Allen
Florence Fairleigh is looking for a husband, to provide security, friendship and love. She is matched with Freddie Burbrooke by his brother Edward, who is hoping to avoid a scandal, caused by Freddie's liason with a footman. But there is an attraction between Edward and Florence that overshadows the friendship she has with Freddie, and Edward becomes the one to introduce her to the pleasures of the bed. In the meantime, Freddie is falling in love with Edward's steward!
This report prepared by Cara
Jove, Jun 2002, 6.50, 304 pp.
In 1875 Lord Althorp warns Lavinia Vance that her daughter and his son will wed in one month or he will bare their former love affair to the Ton. An agitated Lavinia has failed to bring Ernest and Merry together and has no idea what is left to do.
When Merry rejects Ernest again, her parents give her one-week to change her mind or lose her beloved horses and her elderly loyal maid. On her way home, someone accosts Merry. Portrait artist Nicolas Craven having just completed a painting of Merry's father rescues her. She tells him her name is Mary Colfax before leaving him. Merry informs her parents she will visit her best friend in Wales while deciding whether to marry Ernest. However, she actually plans to become Nic's model so that her reputation is ruined and she will not have to marry anyone. Nic agrees and as he works on her portrait they both deny they are in love. Besides which, once he learns who she really is, Molly knows he will never forgive her deception.
This erotic Victorian romance is at its best when the plot focuses on the lead characters' troubles that in turn vividly bring the era to life. However, the explicit sex scenes seem included more as shock treatment than as erotic elements spicing up an engaging tale. BEYOND SEDUCTION is for those readers who want a triple X historical as Emma Holly, known for her torrid tales, treats her readers to an equatorial heated romance.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner