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book cover Limecello’s review of A Seduction at Christmas by Cathy Maxwell
Historical romance published by Avon on 28 Oct 2008

I haven’t read anything by Cathy Maxwell in a while, so I’m not quite sure what prompted me to pick up this book, but I’m glad I did. I’ve been in a reading slump recently, where books I thought I might like, I don’t enjoy at all. Or I’ll be enjoying a book, then halfway through, completely lose interest. What makes A Seduction at Christmas unique, is that I read it cover to cover in two days. One might say that this book got me out of my reading slump – and just in time for the the matching holiday.

The plot isn’t anything outrageous or unheard of, but the way Ms. Maxwell tells the story makes this novel fun and engaging. There are a number of serious topics and issues to be addressed, but but the overall tone and atmosphere is rather lighthearted. I enjoy a book where the characters have a sense of humor, and don’t take themselves too seriously. (Not a comedy, but simply that they aren’t pompous.) The main characters are likable and the secondary characters provide depth and support admirably.

Fiona Lachlan is a bit hard to figure out – not that she’s cryptic or mysterious, but simply that I didn’t have a definite grasp on her person. She seems quite level headed and sensible, which I appreciated. However, she fell in love extremely rapidly, in what I felt was a somewhat unbelievable manner. It’s all too quick and personally I didn’t think it really fit in with the way Fiona handled everything else in her life. Still, it’s refreshing to have a heroine that is generally sensible – although she did have some moments that may cause eye rolling. Regardless, I thought that Fiona is a terrific heroine, and I’d enjoy reading more like her.

Dominic Lynsted, the Duke of Holburn or “Nick” to his friends, is not the character you’re expecting. He’s set out as scoundrel and a rake, but I didn’t see it. I know that’s how he’s described and every respectable person in the ton thinks he’s entirely disreputable, but it didn’t match his actions in the novel. Throughout, the people who know Nick say he’s nothing like what the public believes. Also, that he stopped carousing and hell raising years ago. I suppose it helps merely to have the reputation. He’s kind, caring, has a wicked sense of humor, and an incredible responsible streak. Nick’s a hero any girl would like to meet, and any guy would like to be friends with. He’s also incredibly lucky at the gaming tables, so what’s not to like about that?

I felt that actual conflict of the story paled in comparison to the interaction between Fiona and Nick. I never truly felt that they were in danger, or that there was a serious problem. But that didn’t bother me. The unveiling of the culprits also held less punch than the way Fiona and Nick dealt with the aftermath. However, their conversation afterward is one of my favorite parts in A Seduction at Christmas.  I’m happy to read a romance with great characters, and a focus on the relationship and romance between the hero and heroine. In that regard, Ms. Maxwell delivers admirably.

I believe this is the second book in a series. To be honest, I don’t feel the burning desire to go read the first book, but I definitely want to read the next one. And… likely the one after that as well, if the hero is who I think it is. (I’m not trying to be cryptic – I’m simply not sure, and the information is not yet posted.) Ms. Maxwell has a lively and witty writing style that is entertaining, and lighthearted, but not vacuous. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy historical romance, especially ones with a lighter tone.

LimecelloGrade: B+

She never expected it would come to this

Desperation and an empty stomach forced Fiona Lachlan to agree to a plan that ended up luring the wickedly notorious Duke of Holburn into trouble. Everything went terribly wrong, and now she has found herself posing as his ward! And while she swore nothing could make her desire a scoundrel, even if he was a duke, she is now drawing ever closer to the one man she cannot have . . .

“Beware of innocence!”

The Duke of Holburn had spent years heeding this warning, and in doing so, managed to avoid the virginal young ladies who had been put in his path. But now his wild ways have gotten him into real danger. There are killers at the door and a temptingly beautiful woman in his arms. He is about to find himself seduced . . . and he isn’t quite sure he wants to resist this time.

Read an excerpt here.