Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Sabrina Jeffries‘ second installment of the Sinful Suitors series, The Study of Seduction, has hit the shelves!
When Edwin Barlow, the Earl of Blakeborough, agrees to help his best friend’s impetuous ward, Lady Clarissa Lindsey, in her time of need, he knows he’s in for trouble. He’s been hunting for someone to wed, and she’ll just get in the way. Although captivated by the whip-smart, free-spirited beauty, he fears she’d be all wrong as a wife … if she would even take such a gruff cynic for her husband. Too bad he wants nothing more than to have her for his own.
Clarissa has no intention of marrying anyone—not Edwin, whom she’s sure would be an overbearing husband, and certainly not the powerful French diplomat stalking her. But when matters escalate with the diplomat, she chooses Edwin’s gallant offer of a marriage between friends in hopes that it will deter her stalker. She expects nothing more than an amiable union, but their increasingly tempestuous kisses prove more than she bargained for. When her stalker’s vow to expose the lovers’ deepest secrets threatens to destroy their blossoming attraction, will their tenuous bond withstand public ruin, or will Edwin lose all that’s important to him to protect his bride?
The Study of Seduction was a pleasant surprise for me. Ms. Jeffries explores some darker issues in this novel that haven’t been discussed in her more recent works – all of which were more lighthearted. This novel has the signature Jeffries warmth and humour, but becomes a more dense, emotional read as details of Clarissa’s past are revealed.
At first, I found it difficult to relate to Clarissa – in part, because she was not behaving according to my own bias of how I thought a trauma victim would behave. However, my judgement was subconscious at first. It sound insensitive to say – and it absolutely is – which is why I needed to check myself (and throw my own biases out the window) before I began to reread the novel with a broader perspective. I have often heard that everyone reacts a different way to trauma, but I have been fortunate enough never to experience this first hand. My inexperience made me judge Clarissa, much to my shame, and forget what I have been taught about reading a work of literature from multiple perspective – and never, NEVER, judge a character by how you think they should act. (Of course, there are exceptions to these rules, but none that apply here.)
On my second read through, although I still found aspects of Clarissa’s character contradictory or even historically beyond her time, I was more able to recognize some of her behaviors as coping mechanisms for her tragedy (at least, I believed they were intentionally written as such). I found myself able to see her as a real individuals – one who does not behave according to a preset mold, but makes us question what we know about human psychology.
Very deep stuff, I know.
But on a less deep, and more superficially attractive eye-candy level, we have Edwin. (I’m not kidding…have you seen the cover model?)
In all seriousness, I found Edwin to be a decent, like-able character on both my first and second reads, but he paled in comparison to Clarissa on my second read and I found him less memorable. The amateur psychologist in me was more intrigued with analyzing aspects of Clarissa’s character on my second foray into the novel and I didn’t pay much attention to Edwin. I found him to be a pleasant (and for Clarissa, necessary) addition to the novel but less complex in terms of development.
But, who knows, this could change on my third read?
Nonetheless, based on my two reads so far, I would give this novel a solid 4 out of 5 rating.
(aka The Self-Credited Psychologist)