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Book CoverLynneC’s review of Star Crossed Seduction (Lords of the Seventh House, Book 2) by Jenny Brown
Historical Romance published by Avon Harper Collins August 30th 2011

If I’d read the book described in the blurb, I would have been a happy woman. Unfortunately, it’s nothing like that.  The description of this one intrigued me because it’s about an army officer and a street rat. No lords and ladies, even though the previous book had a lord for a hero. But I soon got bogged down in a welter of historical detail and astrological didacticism. If, like Ms. Brown, you’re a devotee of astrology, then this book might be for you, and certainly I can’t complain a huge amount about the history in this one, unless that there’s too much of it (I know, don’t faint!).

Captain Miles Trevelyan, Trev to his friends, is home on leave from India, so it’s a bit odd that he and his friend choose to wear their uniforms on occasion, because it was the convention for off-duty soldiers on half pay not to do that. But, anyway, a niggle, and it doesn’t bother me a great deal. He’s handsome, a professional soldier, not used to England, since he’s lived all his adult life in India.

Temperance is a street rat, a pickpocket, who gave her heart to a man called Randall, who is now, she believes, dead. When she tries to pick Miles’ pocket, he pursues her, and, in the ensuing struggle, gains the locket she always wears. But here comes my first disconnect. He kisses her and they get the instant connection thing. Wait—he kisses a street rat? These people had rotting teeth and stank more than somewhat. As a gentleman, he might just have noticed that.

Temperance and her friends are taken in by the heroine of the previous book of the series, to her refuge that she runs on astrological principles. Not too far a stretch to make, since there were all kinds of eccentrics around at the time. But in 1821, astrology wasn’t taken seriously in scientific circles and was derided by most. Everyone seems to take this woman seriously. She does the horoscopes of the girls she takes in and decides what to do with their lives accordingly. That is, to me, nuts. As is the assertion that when Temperance lies and gives not her birthday but that of her dead sister, Lady Hartwood spots that the owner of that birthday is dead. Does that mean everybody with the same birthday and time and place of birth are dead? So, as you can see, I’m an astrological skeptic, which makes me a hard sell for this book.

But I read books with elves and write books with vampires, so surely I can take a bit of astrological stuff and accept it for the space of the book? Well, I would, except there is so damned much of it. And it does read like didacticism. I gave up on the book after I got another lecture from Lady Hartwood and realised that, and my other disconnects, make me uninterested in what happens to the characters or the plot. I just don’t care.

There is a lot of history in this book and a lot of references to things that happened at this time. While I am familiar with the time and took most of it in stride, I don’t know how regular readers will take it and I don’t know why they should care. It’s set in 1821, firmly established as this is the year George IV finally was crowned as King, after all his years as Regent, and there are references to the Indian campaign and to the growing discontent among political firebrands, as they were known at the time. One of these themes would have been interesting, but it’s a bit like scattershot, especially in the early chapters—it is sprinkled all over in the hope that some of it might take. I wonder about the reference to Peterloo, for instance, which was a completely local affair and only became a national scandal after the military overreacted.

And the references to “dragoons,” as if they all belonged to the same regiment, is a bit off, too. Dragoons are only one type of soldier – light cavalry, i.e., they carried light weapons, were mounted, and were the lightning forces of the day – and the reference to Miles’ blue tunic (tunics came in a bit later for the army—at this period they were still coats) and blue trousers make me wonder. My father-in-law was a dragoon, but he was in an Irish regiment, so his uniform was green. Temperance’s assertion that the dragoons are all the same, that the ones at Peterloo were the same as the ones in India had me puzzled, but Temperance is a tempestuous heroine, much given to acting first and thinking later.

I really couldn’t like Temperance. She flings herself from one situation to another, and although we’re told she has a kind heart, it is the kind that gives things away to people and doesn’t really work for me. She accepts poverty, and worse, instead of taking what she was born with and making it better. She has the kind of idealism that people who have never known poverty imagine that poor people have for each other. Brown seems to want to make Temperance a bit of everything – intelligent, charitable, streetwise, gracious, a woman born to wealth who gave it up for an ideal—not only gave it up, but flung herself into the gutter. I think Temperance is a servant of the plot more than a living, breathing character, and I couldn’t warm to her. That’s the main reason I gave up on this one.

Miles is, well, the hardened military man thrown into schemes and devices not of his making. I think Miles is the more interesting character, but in the half of the book that I read, I didn’t get enough of him. I might have read on, but the heavy plot and the building “why should I care?” feeling eventually made me give up.

The dreariness of the prose, the throw-everything-at-it-until-it-sticks plot, and the dislikeableness of the main female character made me give up on this one. Oh, yes, and all that astrological stuff.

LynneCs iconGrade: DNF


Lovers or Enemies?

Captain Miles Trevelyan, on leave from active service in India, is heading out for a night on the town when he rescues a beautiful pickpocket from arrest. She’s the perfect choice for a few days of dalliance–beautiful, cunning, and completely disposable.

But Temperance has no intention of becoming the plaything of a man who wears the uniform of the solders who murdered her lover. Disarming Trev with a kiss, she escapes. But her sultry kiss opens the two Scorpio adversaries to an obsessive attraction that neither can elude–or possibly survive.

Following the success of her sensational debut novel, Lord Lightning, Jenny continues her Lords of the Seventh House series–in which each hero is a different sign of the Zodiac. A dark and sensual story reminiscent of the acclaimed novels of Loretta Chase, Anna Campbell, and Mary Balogh, but with a very tantalizing touch of the occult thrown in, Star Crossed Seduction is top-flight historical romance with a uniquely unforgettable difference.

No excerpt available.