The Seduction of Sara by Karen Hawkins
Sara St. John, Lady Carrington, has been widowed for nearly a year after her husband, Julius, died after suffering a carriage accident while naked with his mistress. Sara had been desperately in love with her husband but her love had quickly withered and died after numerous dalliances, and she is determined never to allow herself to fall in love or give anyone the power to hurt her the way Julius did. Nicholas Montrose, the Earl of Bridgeton, has returned to England after numerous dissolute years in Paris after being banished by his cousin after trying to steal his fiance to gain her dowry. He knows he can never marry or produce children as he suffers from crippling migrains and he knows he will follow the same path as his mother did- he will turn to laudanum and eventually kill himself because of it. When Sara's brothers determine that she has spent the last year since Juilius' death creating far too much scandal they cut her off and banish her to Bath, which just happens to be the same place where Nicholas has taken up residence after winning an estate there at the card table. To escape her brothers' clutches Sara decides to marry, but her search is not going quite as planned.
When Nicholas and Sara first meet it is certainly lust at first cite and Nicholas decides that the innocent looking widow will quickly become his mistress. Unfortunately for him Sara is looking to become a wife and he watches her try and fail several times to coerce men she deems suitable into marriage. Eventually he offers Sara help in her endeavor but his assistance soon ends with her in a very compromising position just as her brothers storm in. They demand he marry her and to Sara's confusion he agrees and procures a special license to ensure it happens fast. Sara is nervous about marrying a man she knows so little about but knows she can make the best of it if they both try. Nick is equally sure that a marriage between them will never work out and he continually pushes her away and out of his life. He never wants her to see him when the headaches and laudanum have taken over his life and he goes to drastic measures to see to it that she gives up on the idea of saving him. But when he has completed his task Nick realizes he has just pushed away the only chance of love and happiness he's ever known and must win her back.
I could quickly tell that I would enjoy this book far more than Hawkin's MacLean series which were a tad too fluffy and fast for even me. Not mention there was that weird little curse where they controlled the weather. I really liked Sara and the way she was determined to take control of her own life by shucking her brothers' completely overbearing control. However, I did feel as they she went about it in a way that actually played right into their hands. Although she was trying to find a husband who would let her live her own life, it still seemed as though she was bucking the system by... giving in to the system. A tad confusing. One of the men that Sara attempts to marry faints as she tries to kiss her and Nicholas reveals later that it is because he is not attracted to woman (he's gay). While breaking this news to Sara he also imparts that this man is "a man who has forgotten he is a man." I understand that at the time period that was probably a very accurate belief, I have read other novels where a side- character's homosexuality is handled in a much better way. I don't need complete historical accuracy as also at the time said man would have been guilty of a punishable crime.
One of the first things I realized about this book was that Hawkin's was at least at one time, a much better sexy writer than she is now. A common thread among the MacLean's was a near total abscene of sex, and although it wasn't exactly superb or super steamy the sexy in this book was far better and much more prolific. A hero with a secret malady he is convinced will lead to his ruination and so he pushes the woman he loves away. It is quite an annoying plot to be honest as the reader knows that if the damn hero will just open his mouth and take the woman into his confidence she will tell him it doesn't matter and the two will live happily ever after. It was equally annoying here and it was made even worse by the horrible trick he used to push her away. Despite the fact that it "did not mean anything" it still was a nasty thing to do and Sara should really have put him through his paces a bit more. I know very little about the migraine headaches Nicholas suffers from but I do know that there is no quick fix for them so I was glad that the book ends on a bit of a question as to that little issue- although we do know he's not going to die of them, we don't know that everything has been magically cured.
Rating: Fun, fast, enjoyable, a little bit frustrating and annoying. A satisfying read.