Since my first review of the year 2009 went to Breezing Through, why not write a review for Book Binge? Especially since I’ve already reviewed the first two books of this series here 🙂
Seduced at Midnight is the third installment in Jacquie D’Alessandro‘s Mayhem in Mayfair series (personally, I would either call this series the Ladies Literary Society of London or Midnight series, but whatever…). You can read my reviews for Sleepless at Midnight and Confessions at Midnight, the previous installments, here and here respectively.
The Ladies Literary Society of London gathers again for a ghost story…
Lady Julianne Bradley has always longed for wild adventure. Unfortunately, the man with whom she wishes to share her fervor can never be hers. Tormented by her desire, she’s preparing for a suitable marriage when ghostly occurrences straight out of her latest read start happening and to protect Julianne, her father hires the very man her heart cries out for…
Bow Street Runner Gideon Mayne is determined to resist his new charge – a spoiled, pampered princess whose unequalled beauty admittedly sets his body ablaze with desire. Especially once he realizes that everything he assumed about Julianne is utterly wrong. For beneath her aloof demeanor lies a passionate woman determined to provoke his raw hunger. But now that she’s decided to play with fire, who will keep her safe… from him?
Let me fill some gaps here: Julianne is the daughter of an earl with cold, unloving and insensitive parents. Her parents consider Julianne as a property and all that matters is that she makes an advantageous marriage, thus her father choose the Duke of Eastling who has rank and money.
Needless to say, Julianne isn’t in love with the duke. Instead, she desires Gideon Mayne, a lowly Bow Street Runner. When her parents announce their decision, Julianne decides to go after what she desires and uses the ghostly murderer as a ploy. Several noble ladies of London have been killed, their jewelry stolen, in closed chambers and that have led the society to believe in a ghost as the culprit. Thinking that Julianne is the next victim, her father hires Gideon to protect his investment as Gideon is the principal investigator in those murders… but what happens when both succumb to desire?… or when Julianne turns out indeed to be the murderer next victim?
I’ll go straight to the point: this book didn’t work for me. While the writing is still excellent and engaging, the problems were the characters. I didn’t like Julianne and couldn’t connect with her. I thought she was too passive, too bland… and well, boring. She might have been a great beauty, but she didn’t have much of a personality or confidence in herself. I don’t know why she didn’t stand up to her parents and found it very annoying and frustrating. Finally, when her fate is almost sealed, she gathers enough courage to reach out for Gideon… a bit too late in my opinion. It’s not as if she cared about money or loved her parents, so why did it take so long?
Gideon was an okay hero, but I didn’t warm up to him much more than Julianne. First, there were all those prejudices against Julianne, believing that she was a spoiled princess. Then, all he could think was: “Hubba, I want her… but hubba, can’t have her, because she’s above me.”
See, I just realized what annoyed me so much about these two characters. Their pessimism and negativity. Not once did they believe that they could be together and have a HEA ending. There was always this class barrier between them and they didn’t try to remove it. Sure, they acted their parts… Gideon was jealous of the Duke or any other contenders when he thought Julianne would marry one of them. Julianne did long for adventure and freedom… However, ultimately, it just felt fake because neither of them really believed.
At the end, after they had sex, after Julianne’s been in danger and rescued by Gideon, after the bad guy’s been captured, both the H/H were still thinking they couldn’t be together!!! None of them thought of defying society and eloping!! If it wasn’t for Julianne’s friends’ husbands who got the special license for them to wed – yes, the friends’ husbands, NOT Giden or Julianne, I don’t think they would have ended together. Quite frankly, I think that Julianne would have continued being submissive and marry whomever her parents chose… Sure, she would have been heart-broken and unhappy, but she still would have done it. As for Gideon, he would live in regrets forever…
So that was my main crux with the book. Other things that bothered me? First, the parents – I don’t understand why they blamed Julianne for being born a girl. I mean, isn’t it the job of the wife to produce the heir? Aren’t they usually require to have two sons anyway? An heir and a spare? So why blame Julianne? Couldn’t the earl have slept with his wife a few more times to beget the required heir? Ugh. I didn’t really like the unloving parents; however, it does make the story a bit more original… and it’s a nice change from the usually fussy parents.
Then, there was Lady Emily. Lady Emily. She is the last woman of the group who is unmarried and of course, she’s getting her own book: Tempted at Midnight coming out in April 2009. Now, I really liked her characters in previous books. She’s the complete opposite of Julianne. Pretty, out-spoken, direct and penniless. I liked her personality in the previous book and was actually hoping this book would be hers. However, I found her snob and haughty in Seduced at Midnight… and that is not a good thing. As it is, I’m now wondering if I should get Tempted at Midnight… sigh.
So are there redeeming factors to this book? Well yes. Like I mentioned earlier, the writing was good and engaging. Then, there were some very funny scenes involving Princess Buttercup and Caesar, Julianne and Gideon’s respective canine friends LOL 🙂 I also enjoy seeing the Ladies Literary Society of London continuing reading scandalous books and meeting secretly to discuss it.
The most interesting part of this book in my opinion was the mystery… the murders of the Ladies. I think the whole plot behind it was quite clever; however, something went wrong with the execution. I think that Ms D’Alessandro didn’t really do a good job as foreshadowing and inserting clues… as a result, I don’t believe that Gideon had enough clues to solve the mystery. Another thing that I couldn’t help but wonder is why nobody was mourning? I mean, we’re talking of 3 or 4 ladies killed here… and sure, people were gossiping and speculating about the murders and murderer… However, everyone still went around like nothing happened. Not once did I read “How tragic” or “How sad.” It’s as if these murders didn’t impact their lives and quite frankly, I found that hard to believe. You’d expected the ton to be scared and worried, but no. It felt even more unrealistic when one of the hostesses was murdered a day or two after a soiree and she was barely mentioned. Even if you don’t mourn about the victims, what about their husbands? Wouldn’t anyone be sympathetic? I know that most of the ton is superficial, but to not feel anything? That’s was a major oversight from Ms D’Alessandro.
Seduced at Midnight was a total let-down after two first great entries. The plot might have worked better if the H/H were different… however, as it is, it was hard to root for them when they didn’t believe it and therefore, difficult to connect with them or like them.