Love at first sight is at the core of Lorraine Heath’s latest novel, An Invitation to Seduction. The hero first kisses the heroine on page 22; he subsequently proposes on page 62. This plot can be particularly challenging for the writer because it requires significant work to be convincing. In this case, Heath handles it well. Although the couple’s initial meeting seems more like lust at first sight, I was ultimately persuaded of their deeper feelings for each other.
American heiress Kitty Robertson is betrothed to Nicholas (Nicky) Glenville. Their engagement has not been announced, and Kitty is enjoying a family holiday at Cornwall before going to Victorian London. She has planned her future carefully: “Lord Farthingham and Papa are still working out the settlement. Until the lawyers and Papa are happy with everything, we won’t make an official announcement. Then I want to wait an entire year before we actually get married.”
Subsequent events derail Kitty’s plans almost immediately. Early one morning, she sees a man, Richard Stansbury. They feel an immediate connection and share a passionate kiss before Kitty pulls away.
Kitty is horrified by her actions with Richard. Her birth mother was unmarried when she became pregnant with Kitty at age 17. Kitty has been raised by a wealthy American couple and has always seen her birth mother’s passion as weakness. All of her life, Kitty has been determined to avoid succumbing to similar feelings. She is engaged to Nicky because “He makes me feel safe. . . . He’s my hero.” Richard, on the other hand, makes her feel things that frighten her.
After the passionate encounter, Richard knows only Kitty’s first name, that she is going to London, and that she is “soon to be married.” When Richard goes to London in search of her, he discovers that her fiancé is his friend Nicholas. Richard has a reason to believe that a marriage between Kitty and Nicky would be disastrous. Though this reason isn’t revealed until the very end of An Invitation to Seduction, I suspect that it won’t surprise most readers.
Richard is single-minded in his pursuit of Kitty, but at first, his actions lean toward the excessive. He disavows the possibility that he loves her, and much of his language reflects possession rather than affection: “He imagined her at his side forever. It was where he wanted her. He had little doubt that she would be his easiest conquest yet. And beyond any doubt, she would be his most rewarding.” Variations of the phrase “win her” are common, and this initially makes him a difficult character to like.
However, Richard learns that he is off the mark with his estimation of an easy conquest. Winning Kitty isn’t easy—Richard has to work for it. Kitty forces him to reexamine his feelings, and he realizes that he’s fallen deeply in love with her. It’s at this point that he won me over, and I liked him very much in the second half of the book. One scene in which he gives her an engagement ring brought me to tears.
An Invitation to Seduction kept me emotionally involved almost from beginning to end. Richard and Kitty’s course to true love is far from smooth, but it’s definitely rewarding.