“The Seduction of Lord Stone” by Anna Campbell

5 Mar

TheSeductionofLordStoneWhile I am not on twitter, I lurk there, following #not chilled, and two or three people’s stream/timeline/whatever it’s called. I am fascinated by all the things I learn about that way.

Among these many interesting things, I saw that Anna Campbell just released the second in a trilogy of shorter stories about a trio of tonnish widows returning to society after their mandatory year of mourning.

As each of these are only 99c, and as I enjoy Ms Campbell’s writing (and her), very much indeed, I snapped both of them up.

Here are my thoughts.

“The Seduction of Lord Stone” by Anna Campbell

The prologue introduces our three friends, henceforth known as The Dashing Widows. Two of them are nearing the end of their obligatory year of mourning, and they are chomping at the bit to get back out there, and to finally be allowed to live. Instead of, you know, playing the small, background character of “wife” in someone else’s life. Their thirst for life after such prolonged emptiness convinces the third to join in their quest.

The blurb, from the author’s site:

For this reckless widow, love is the most dangerous game of all.

Caroline, Lady Beaumont, arrives in London seeking excitement after ten dreary years of marriage and an even drearier year of mourning. That means conquering society, dancing like there’s no tomorrow, and taking a lover to provide passion without promises. Promises, in this dashing widow’s dictionary, equal prison. So what is an adventurous lady to do when she loses her heart to a notorious rake who, for the first time in his life, wants forever?

Devilish Silas Nash, Viscount Stone is in love at last—with a beautiful, headstrong widow bent on playing the field. Worse, she’s enlisted his help to set her up with his disreputable best friend. No red-blooded man takes such a challenge lying down, and Silas schemes to seduce his darling into his arms, warm, willing and besotted. But will his passionate plots come undone against a woman determined to act the mistress, but never the wife?

Some of the tropes are well used, but Ms Campbell’s writing always elevates the mundane, and this book is no exception.

Here we have the innocent, respectable young widow who, through fate, has met one of society’s most celebrated rakes, as he is the brother of one of her friends. She’s in mourning, and they only interact during those rare, stringently monitored occasions when it’s proper for her to receive or visit fellow recluses. After her year of blacks and greys is over, Caroline is ready to enjoy her position and her fortune, and to take society by storm.

For his part, Silas is immediately smitten by, and soon after, head over heels in love with, his widowed sister’s dear friend. Of course, once Caro makes her intentions to engage in a series of discrete yet scorching affairs, Silas is honor bound to help her–by scuppering all her efforts and besmirching every potential candidate’s reputation as a celebrated lover.  One snores, the other doesn’t wash, that one cracks his knuckles, and so on and so forth.

So far, we have all read this story at least a few times, right?

Except that Caro is not as easily deterred as all that–whether or not she would prefer one Silas Nash in her bed to pretty much anyone else, she doesn’t need the emotional entanglement that would bring her, let alone the risk of losing his friendship.

Caro barely survived a lifetime of repression, first as her father’s chattel, then as the obedient wife of the world’s dullest landowner. It’s only through chance that she’s free and mistress of her own destiny while she is still young enough to enjoy life. No intelligent woman would risk such privilege by becoming emotionally attached to a man–any man!

And even when she realizes that Silas not only wants her above all others, but that he loves her, Caro will not give in. Love, in her experience, is another cage–one where women are supposed to give, and give, and give, and always be at the mercy of someone else’s will.

Of course, Silas is pretty determined, and just devious enough, to find a way to get what–or, in this case, who–he wants.

However–there’s always a rub–Caro’s back and forth, and self-torture over wanting and loving Silas grew old fast for me. Mind you, this is a novella, and it takes place over the course of just a few weeks, but at one point I wanted to delete a couple of pages of “no, no, I won’t! or maybe I should…but no, I cannot do it!…but I want to…” I really wanted to shake Caro a couple of times and tell her to make up her bloody mind already–and then, stick to whatever decision she reached.

(Yes, in real life people are just that wishy washy, if not worse, but I want my fiction to make sense, since life often doesn’t.)

Ms Campbell gets point for having the protagonists actually talking to one another, and for making the secondary characters more than simple placeholders/sequel bait, without having them take over too much space in this story. Still, even good writing couldn’t make up, for me, for being exasperated with the heroine. There was also more than a bit of purple prose at a key point in the story; something that, to be honest, took me out of the characters’ minds a bit too much.

Furthermore, I found the ending incredibly abrupt; it’s more in HFN territory than HEA, which is perfectly fine. No, the problem is that I got whiplash. We go from “things are happening” to “the end” in about a page!

“The Seduction of Lord Stone” gets a 6.00 out of 10, and I think I’ll wait a bit before I tackle the second one.

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2 Responses to ““The Seduction of Lord Stone” by Anna Campbell”

  1. bamaclm 05/03/2016 at 7:51 PM #

    I’m sort of burned out on historicals, even though I just finished re-reading Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels, The Last Hellion and Captives of the Night. What can I say? I love her heroes and can relate to her ‘kickass’ heroines, unlike others I’ve read in this era.

    I’ve not read Campbell and I fear not even your in depth review gave me any interest in doing so. 😦

    • azteclady 05/03/2016 at 8:31 PM #

      I am contemplating re-reading Lord of Scoundrels myself. What a wonderful book, and Jessica and Dain are just so well written.

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