Revenge Wears Rubies

Seduction Wears Sapphires
by Renee Bernard
(Berkley, $7.99, PG-13)  ISBN 978-0-425-23596-6
Seduction Wears Sapphires starts out with an intriguing premise, then descends into repetition.  The same basic scenes are played over and over, and in order to force these scenes to happen, the author has her characters do some fairly nitwitted and/or reprehensible things.  This book didn’t work very well for me.

Ashe Blackwell has returned from India a changed man.  He was held prisoner and witnessed some horrific things, and in an attempt to numb himself, has been carousing around London like the world is about to end.  His grandfather, fed up and not understanding Ashe’s problems, issues an ultimatum: become a model of propriety for the upcoming Season or be cut out of his will.  Ashe is furious, even more so when he is told he’ll have a chaperone.  Miss Caroline Townsend is an American, no less.

Caroline is in London at the behest of Ashe’s grandfather, one of her own grandfather’s oldest friends.  He’ll give her a small fortune – enough to open a school for girls back home – if she chaperones Ashe for the Season. Caroline knows she’s in over her head, but desperate, she agrees to the proposal.

And that’s the setup.  Resentful and angry, Ashe snaps at Caroline at every turn.  Caroline decides he’s a rude boor.  He can’t help but lust after her, of course, and she secretly thinks he’s very, very attractive.  But they snap and snarl and bicker at one another, and all the while Caroline is managing to charm everyone she meets with her American forthrightness.

Then Ashe discovers that Caroline walks in her sleep, and when she’s sleepwalking, she is gentle, funny, and a thorough delight. His lust increases, so he decides to pass her off on one of his friends and ignore her as much as possible. Caroline pesters him, which allows them to continue the “I want you/Leave me alone” cycle. At one point, Caroline chases after Ashe, climbs on a horse even though she’s never ridden in her life (How hard can it be?) and is immediately thrown off, just so Ashe can kiss her and she can push him away.  This all got tiresome in a hurry.

My issues with this story started right at the beginning.  There was absolutely no reason why Ashe couldn’t have had a good talk with his grandfather and explained everything, except then there would be no story, so he looks like a stubborn fool right from the start.  Caroline supposedly charms everyone with her witty remarks, but they didn’t come across as witty to me – just blunt.  Caroline can’t decide what she wants, and the climax falls back on the old “I don’t want to hear anything you have to say” schtick.  Great. Ashe finally wants to talk and now nobody will listen. I was tired of this couple, and a hot time in bed does not make for a believable romance.

Seduction Wears Sapphires was a tiresome read for me, but others may enjoy Ashe and Caroline much more than I did.   

--Cathy Sova

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