Desire

Ecstacy

The Heartbreaker

Master of Temptation

The Seduction

 
Lord of Seduction by Nicole Jordan
(Ballantine, $6.99, R) ISBN 0-345-46785-X
***
After suffering through Nicole Jordanís last two books including the first entry in the Paradise series,Master of Temptation, I almost gave up on her books. Call me old-fashioned, but I still like my romances to come with some story line and character development. Marathon boinking Ė as worthwhile and entertaining as it may be in real life Ė just isnít enough to hold my interest for 400-plus pages.

This second title in the series is a distinct improvement. The hero is suitably brave, intrepid and hunky; the heroine is intelligent, talented, and beautiful. These are characters who actually talk and come to know each other. And Ė get this! Ė while they do a lot Ė and I mean a lot! Ėof fooling around (apparently the standard rules of proper behavior with well-bred young ladies donít apply to this guy), at the halfway point in the story they still havenít climbed between the sheets.

I know, I could hardly believe it myself.

Diana Sheridan seeks out Christopher Thorne, Viscount Thorne, on the Mediterranean isle of Cyrene. Following the death of Dianaís cousin, Nathaniel Lunsford, Thorne had been named guardian of his friendís younger sister Amy. Dianaís reputation was ruined when she eloped with a fortune hunter. She has been trying to keep her cousin from repeating her mistake, but Amy has attracted an unsuitable admirer and refuses to listen to reason. Diana is enlisting Thorneís help in dealing with the headstrong young woman. In addition, she wants to deliver a letter to Thorne written by Nathaniel but not discovered until a year after his death. In it, he provides information that suggests his death might have been intentional murder.

Thorne is a Guardian, a member of a secret society sworn to uphold and protect British ideals and security. Nathaniel was also a member, but until he received the letter, Thorne has had no reason to believe that Nathanielís death was more than a botched robbery attempt.

Diana is a talented artist. It is her intention to apply to the British Academy to continue her studies in art and establish a career as a portrait painter. She knows that the scandal in her past sets her apart from the highest levels of society.

Thorneís father, the Duke of Recliffe, has been dead set on Thorne contracting a marriage even to the extent of buying off his mistress and insisting his son marry a scheming young woman who arranged a fake compromising situation. (Thorne is so irresistible, theyíll do anything to get him!) He has fled to Cyrene to escape. Dianaís appearance provides him with an opportunity. Engagement to Diana will satisfy his fatherís demands and give him the freedom to investigate Nathanielís death as well as allow Diana to enter society once again with Thorneís familyís support. Diana is insistent: this will be a fake betrothal; they will end it when the charade is no longer necessary.

When they return to England, Thorneís aunt agrees to sponsor Amy for her comeout. She and Diana move into the auntís house. Diana offers to assist Thorne in his investigation. Even though itís to be a fake betrothal, Diana soon finds herself frequently in Thorneís company. She knows, however, that he is opposed to the bonds of matrimony. Can she remain firm in the face of Thorneís persuasion?

With the exception of hair and eye color, Nicole Jordanís testosterone-charged heroes are indistinguishable. If youíve ever read her books, you know what I mean. Itís the heroine who saves Lord of Seduction. Diana Sheridan is not just another pretty face with a delectable body; sheís clearly a match for Thorne. She injects wit and vitality into the story and does more than merely stand around admiring his virile physique. Itís perfectly understandable that the previously diehard bachelor will soon be thinking of matrimony. Her one fault is that she holds out against the inevitable too long.

It helps to have some familiarity with the previous book and the secret Guardian society to understand the clandestine intrigue aspect of the plot, but itís not essential. Some of the twists and turns in the plot are hard to swallow, and the climactic scene (the other kind of climax) is downright ridiculous. Nevertheless, thereís enough interesting interaction between the characters to make this an acceptable story. Nicole Jordanís fans will be pleased to know that she seems to have gotten back on track.

--Lesley Dunlap


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