Thursday, May 27, 2010

Seducing the Heiress

She vowed to resist him...

Her wealth and beauty have made Miss Portia Crompton the catch of the season. Secretly determined to wed the maharajah’s son she left behind in India, Portia ignores the money-hungry bucks who ply her with bouquets and bonbons. But one suitor will not be deterred: Colin Byrd, Viscount Ratcliffe. He is persistent and presumptuous—and wickedly tempting.

He vowed to have her..

Colin has no delusions about romance. He’s a rogue, a womanizer, and a murderer, and seduction comes as easily to him as breathing. Portia’s fortune is an irresistible lure until Colin’s mercenary scheme hits a snag. Winning her dowry is no longer enough—he wants her heart and her passion. The more adamant she is in her refusal, the more determined he is to seduce her…

Barbara Dawson Smith debuts a lovely tale as Olivia Drake...

The authoress has presented regency romance fans with a splendid tale of the rake chasing the heiress, with all parties well aware the rake is only after one thing:  her money.  But what happens when this rake starts to feel more than just lust for a society chit who is secretly planning to flee to India and marry her childhood sweetheart? 

Portia's family came to London to join society, using their money in trade to cast Portia into the glass fishbowl of the ton hoping she will hook a titled husband.  Viscount Ratcliffe is so much a profligate rake, he isn't welcomed in fashionable society, yet he very cleverly comes to Portia's rescue and meets the lovely loaded heiress, bound and determined that he will wed her after some well-planned wooing.  But Portia is only interested in surviving the season unscathed and unmarried so she can escape to India to wed a maharajah's son.  Now enters Albright - a marriageable, older duke who steps in and switfly becomes a parent-approved suitor after Ratcliffe's interest in Portia becomes quite obvious.  But Ratcliffe is on to Albright's game, and quite a game it turns out to be!  Can Portia work out all the tangled knots in this web of intrigue? 

This was a very pleasant read with an interesting, multi-faceted plot and some great characters.  Portia's parents were very strong, polished, and reflective of their status, while sisters Lindsey and Blythe were charming and compassionate creatures of comfort for Portia.  Ratcliffe truly isn't what he seems (but then, isn't that usually the case?) and we see Portia mature as she learns about life's hardships outside her little bubble of pampered life.  Her respect for Ratcliffe grows over the course of the book and is really illustrated beautifully.  But that being said, I was really frustrated that almost every romantic moment between Ratcliffe and Portia became a war of hot and cold.  One moment the heat is on and they're smoldering.  The next moment, Portia hates his guts and pushes him away, never wanting to see him again.  I can understand one scene like that, maybe two to build tension, but really it was like every romantic moment was spoiled by Portia doing a complete 180. 

Albright was an annoying sort, and rightfully so given his role.  But really, does a duke have nothing better to do than hover over a society maiden - rich in dowry he doesn't need - just to tick someone else off?  Apparently!  But I wasn't quite satisfied with the reasoning behind it all.  I don't know what exactly was missing, but something was.  And the happily ever after wrapped so quickly and neatly, it was as if the author presented it to the reader on a doily centered on a perfectly polished silver platter. An epilogue may have eased the rush to the finish line, but since there wasn't one, the story ended a bit too abruptly for me, leaving a few unanswered questions in its wake.  Sorry... am I sounding too gripey?

All that said, it really was a pleasant read that I would rate as medium on the 'light-heartedness to dark romance' scale.  I liked Ratcliffe's choice in servants and how their subplots contibuted to the story and I found the tidbits weaved in about India to be just enough without being overpowering. Sometimes the use of foreign places just becomes a billboard for showing off the author's research skills, but with this story, it was simply a dose of enhancement.  Bravo! 

I recommend Seducing the Heiress as a pleasant and enjoyable read, and since I adored Portia's sisters, I look forward to reading their stories which are forthcoming and will complete this three book Heiress in London series.  Look for Lindsey's story in Never Trust a Rogue, due out August 31, and keep an eye out for Blythe's story which will probably be released Spring of next year.

As a sidenote, I had never heard of Barbara Dawson Smith until I found out Olivia Drake is her nom de plume.  It looks like she has previously written in the same genre and may be making a fresh, new start with this series. 

My rating:  6 – It was a pleasant read

The series, so far, in order...


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