Beauty in Black

Dear Imposter

Gilding the Lily

Lady in Waiting

Robert's Lady

Vision in Blue

Widow in Scarlet

Seducing Sir Oliver
by Nicole Byrd
(Berkley, $6.99, PG) ISBN 0-425-21083-9
There were parts of this story that were engaging and fun; there were more parts that were average; and some of this tale was below par. Therefore, Seducing Sir Oliver gets a middle of the road rating, with a tilt towards “think twice.”

Juliana Applegate is a poor relation of Lord Gabriel Sinclair, her newly discovered half-brother who was illicitly sired by her father when he had an affair before his marriage. Juliana is sent to London to have a Season. She is resourceful and countrified, having helped her father run their poor, rural estate. Upon arrival in London, Gabriel discovers that members of his household have measles and thus, he imposes on his friend, Lady Sealey. Juliana will stay with her. Also under her roof is her godson, Oliver Ramsey, a single bulk of a man who is also a zoologist. There is also another kind of danger in the house, as Lady Sealey is being threatened and several attempts are made on her life.

Engaging and fun: Sir Oliver was not macho and self-assured, thus making him very human. He was scholarly but not bookish. He was a scientist but also sensitive and lovable. He seemed sensible most of the time, even though he thinks it is a good idea to keep his caged monkey in his room. He has exotic animals; including said monkey that they must chase all over the house and leopards with whom they have a harrowing adventure in the country. Oliver is self-assured one minute and then a bumbling scientist the next. His saving grace is the fact that he doesn’t hide from danger nor is he afraid to stand up and fight for what he believes. This is true about his feelings for his animals and for his godmother when she is in danger. He is lovable even though he doesn’t have much depth.

Below par: The attraction between the heroine and the hero happened way too fast, making the heroine seem rather silly and much too adolescent to truly embrace. We really only see her side of it, so she is the one that seems over-eager. On page 58, when they had not even been introduced:
“She felt a weakness inside her, a quivering, shivering strangeness that no man had ever in her life induced.” And again on page 76 later that afternoon:
“How had he come to seem such a vibrant and exciting addition to her life so very quickly?...She’d barely met the man!”

This sentiment is echoed by the reviewer. It is too unbelievable that after two encounters, where they are chasing a monkey, the heroine is in love so totally with the hero. This lack of believability makes it difficult to embrace other parts of the heroine’s story. Juliana wants to be a sensible young lady, but way too often she seems naïve and utterly ridiculous. For instance, she invites Oliver into her bedchamber to catch the monkey despite the fact that she is in her nightgown and it is the middle of the night. Another time she chases after Oliver and the monkey despite the fact that she is not completely dressed.

Average: The rest of the story. Lady Sealey opens her home and even acts as a surrogate mother when Juliana needs advice about sex. She is almost too good to be true. The suspense part of the plot revolves around the danger she is in when she receives unsigned threatening letters. The end result of that threat is rather tepid, making the whole pretext of the reason Oliver and Juliana are in each other’s company seem rather hollow.

Overall, Seducing Sir Oliver is an average Regency-set historical. There is romance, but it happens way too fast for my taste. There were parts of the tale that were fun generally involving the wild animals and the hero. But there is much to have to work through to gain enjoyment.

--Shirley Lyons

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