Seduction (The Spymaster's Men #1)
by Brenda Joyce
Expected publication: January 31st 2012 by Harlequin
Dominic Paget, the earl of Bedford, will do anything to resume spying upon Britain's enemies. Badly wounded, he is put will do anything in the care of a beautiful gentlewoman, Julianne Greystone, only to discover that her sympathies lie with his enemies. Yet he can't help but seduce the woman who saved his life—hoping she never learns of his betrayal.
Julianne is captivated by the wounded stranger she believes is a revolutionary hero. Until she discovers the truth…her "hero" is the privileged earl of Bedford. Devastated and determined to forget him, Julianne travels to London. But when she finds herself in danger, it is Bedford who comes to the rescue. Now Julianne must navigate the intrigues of a perilous city, the wild yearnings of her own heart and the explosion of their passion….
Seduction is the second title I've read by Brenda Joyce. The first one was The Masquerade, which I loved. So I hoped I would like this one just as much.
Okay, so...the book is set during the French Revolution.
It starts with Dominic Paget, son of a French viscountess and a British earl acting as a spy in France for the British government, being ambushed by an assassin. He is very near death's door when his friend Michel Jacquelyn and the brothers Lucas and Jack Greystone arrive to save him. They take him to Greystone manor, where he is tended by Julianne Greystone, a simple woman who has never had a day "of leisure and frivolity", in Joyce's words, having grown up doing chores a servant is expected to do.
The problem lies with Julianne being an active rebel, a Jacobin, and the co-founder of a society that supports the French revolution, in favor of a new political reform and social change... from Britain. She's seen by most people as a traitor to her country, even if the only thing she wants is equality. A home, food and clothing for every man and woman, not just for the wealthy.
Dominic is the earl of Bedford and a Tory (British agent). He has seen for himself all the horrible things happening at France because of the war. The bloodbath with innocent people dying every day. The reality of the Jacobins and how they started to control their own people and forced them towards violence (seemingly having forgotten their initial ideals)... yet, he can't say any of it to Julianne, because she thinks he is a fellow radical, a poor French army officer healing from a gun wound in enemy lands. He uses the alias Charles Maurice.
She falls in love with Charles and feels completely betrayed when she finds out how much of it all was a lie. But it's him she calls for when she's arrested for sedition and the suspicion of treason. Dom comes to her aid like a knight in shining armor, taking her to his place and showering her with beautiful clothes, jewelry and parties. Things she never even dreamed off.
The couple goes through a lot of drama. Julianne find out his old fianceé is not dead like he told her, she is threatened by a radical (who was supposedly on her side) and forced to spy on and betray Dom or have her family hurt, Dom kicks her out of his house and goes back to war...
Brenda Joyce is very historically accurate, providing a lot of information so we can keep up with the dates, locations and events... however I think maybe historical spy books based on real facts may not be my thing. To me, the book felt too long at times, even though the writing was excellent and I liked the characters.
Also, I couldn't help but notice all the similarities between Seduction and The Masquerade. Both heroines suffer a LOT because of the heroes. Both heroes get mad for thinking they were horribly betrayed by their loved ones, but find out they were wrong (NO!) and ask for forgiveness. Both heroines get pregnant and hide it from the heroes. Many things sounded familiar.
The thing is... I loved all that drama on The Masquerade, being my first read from her and all, only now I'm wondering if those similarities were just a coincidence or some kind of pre-made formula for writing... But I can't say much more until I check other books by Ms Joyce (which I very well intend to do, regardless of how this one made me feel).
All in all, if you're interested in historical romances with a great narrative, a lot of drama and hot spies, or simply want to know more about the French Revolution, this is your book. ;)
*I received an e-arc from the publisher by Netgalley in exchange from an honest review.*