Fairy Tale

The Husband Hunt


The Seduction of an
English Scoundrel

by Jillian Hunter
(Ballantine, $6.99, R) 0-345-46121-5
Jillian Hunter is an author I’ve never read before and if The Seduction of an English Scoundrel is any indication of her other work, I’ve been missing out. A beautiful, bluestocking who’s been jilted and a rogue who is suddenly head of his wild family match wits and attraction in the wake of the wedding that did not happen. I was quickly pulled into the tale.

Jane Welsham and her bridesmaids stand at the front of the Marquess of Sedgecroft’s private chapel waiting for Nigel Boscastle, her fiancé, to arrive. The Marquess, Grayson Boscastle, is Nigel’s cousin and the head of the Boscastle family. He is in the congregation along with his boisterous brothers and sister. His new status as the head of the family conflicts with his roguish ways. As he waits for Nigel to appear, he notices how fetching the bride-to-be is and at the same time decides he needs to do something to save the family reputation if the groom doesn’t appear.

Jane only wants to go home and get out of her uncomfortable attire. She is not as distressed as she appears to be. She and Nigel were promised at her birth and grew up together as both friends and almost siblings. While very close, neither wanted to get married, but their families just assumed it was wedding jitters. In fact, Nigel and his former governess fell in love and have a baby on the way. Jane agrees to help them by appearing to go through with the wedding, giving the couple time to disappear and by keeping it secret as long as possible. Jane hopes that she will eventually find someone to marry for love.

Grayson offers Jane his coach to leave the church and deals with the guests. Although he has never cared that much about gossip, his sister informs him that the jilting could socially ostracize Jane and even her two younger sisters. He approaches Jane’s family and offers to escort Jane to social engagements to give her a chance to find another suitor. Jane is reluctant at first, until Grayson tells her how hiding could damage her sisters’ chances as well.

Thus begins their relationship. Jane’s sharp mind and quick wit both delight Grayson and keep him on his toes. Grayson’s reputation of as a rogue is deserved, but Jane quickly sees that he cares deeply for his family and is doing his best to shoulder the responsibilities left to him by the sudden death of his father. She begins to understand the strong love that pulled at Nigel because she begins to have these feelings toward Grayson. For his part, Grayson begins to realize that his aversion to commitment is disappearing the longer he is around Jane. Nigel, however, continues to get in the way because Jane feels guilty about keeping his secret from Grayson and Grayson thinks Jane still pines for her fiancé.

While Jane and Grayson are very much the focus, including some very sensual seduction scenes, Jane’s sisters and parents and Grayson’s sister Chloe and brother Heath are given character and interest. (Chloe and Heath are the leads in the second and third books of the trilogy.) I particularly liked that Jane’s parents were truly interested in her happiness and really did believe that she and Nigel would make a good marriage.

The fast pace of the story was somewhat disrupted toward the end when Grayson discovers the truth about Nigel. His machinations handling the situation seem a little over the top, but the resolution is quite satisfying. I look forward to the rest of the trilogy.

--B. Kathy Leitle

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