Saturday, November 27, 2021

Courtney Milan - Proof by Seduction

She was his last chance for a future of happiness...
A gifted fortune-teller from a humble background, Jenny can make even the most sophisticated skeptic believe her predictions simply by batting her smoky eyelashes. Until she meets her match in Gareth Carhart, the Marquess of Blakely, a sworn bachelor and scientist.
Broodingly handsome, Gareth is scandalized to discover his cousin has fallen under the spell of "Madame Esmerelda," and vows to prove Jenny a fraud. But his unexpected attraction to the fiery enchantress defies logic. Jenny disrupts every facet of Gareth's calculated plan--until he can't decide whether to seduce her or ruin her. Now, as they engage in a passionate battle of wills, two lonely souls must choose between everything they know...and the boundless possibilities of love.

Comment: I had this book by Courtney Milan to read for a while. I have read other books by her in the past and enjoyed most of them, which is why I was also curious about the books I hand't read yet.

In this story, apparently the first or one of the first books written and published by the author, we meet heroine Jenny who works as the clairvoyant Mrs Esmeralda and after such a disappointing life, she mostly feels no worries about taking people's money to make ends' meet. For the past years, this has been her livelihood but lately, she has been feeling a little guilty for taking one of her client's money. Ned Carhart approached at a very low moment in his life and more than wanting his money, she felt she was being a friend, who could help him. However, two years passed and now his cousin, the marquess of Blakely, much more set on logic and science, wants to prove her wrong and cease her influence on Ned. The problem is that Jenny doesn't mind a challenge and she wants to gain the upper hand on a lord. What neither counted on was how much proximity could cause them to develop feelings for one another...

This story has all the ingredients to make it a good one, I really tend to like the idea of heroines in rough moments in their lives getting better chances of improving their odds of becoming stronger, happier... I think this was a great story to see an example of this, but to be fair, I really think this is one of those books by the author where the analysis of things took up a lot of attention, in detriment of the romantic aspects of the main couple's relationship.

I say this because mrs Milan is know for her depth of characterization and by how much her characters think and are logical, a little bit an extension of the author herself, with her wit and more scientific mind. I'd say the issue is that, on the other side of this, we have too much of an analytic approach, which can sound a bit too specific and "brainy" and that removes some of the fun out of things. Besides, if this takes a long part of the novel, then when the characters change their minds or start acting differently because they interact with someone different, it might sound too odd. Well, at least, I felt that in this case.

Gareth, the hero, is described as someone who is practical, serious about his duties as a marquess and we learn he was taught from a young age to not give in to silliness and fun because he is the embodiment of his title. I can see how he would feel he had a certain posture to uphold. Of course, Jenny being someone without the same social constraints because she was not part of the aristocracy, means we would have a great contrast and indeed, there are some cute scenes in the book where we see how opposed they are. I especially liked and laughed at the scene Gareth sings in public...

But there's never the sense we are losing track of the proper issues at hand here: society works a certain way and people are expected to play roles, to not catch the attention of others for judgment is harsh. Jenny has felt it in a way and she has had bad experiences so there is always this notion women, in particular, aren't seen as equals and Jenny clearly wants to be seen as equal by Gareth. I found the conflicts and discussions they shared quite interesting and realistic but in terms of romance....

The best part of the romance, for me, was actually the end. I suppose it's no surprise this story ends as well as one could expect but the road there felt so complicated for them, both personally and in how society would see it, that when they did, I feel I wasn't convinced enough their love was as solid as the author intends it to look. I get the idea but there's some looseness of the tone of the story, some more daily life scenes missing from their interactions, to make it sound they could match at all levels. I was glad they found a HEA but the journey wasn't always as captivating as I might have preferred.

There are some secondary issues being dealt here to, which I liked, namely in the character of Ned, who is obviously facing depression. I suppose this will be alluded further in his own book but I'm still debating if the curiosity over hoe his HEA might develop is enough to make me want to go through what I imagine will be more analysis and picking on (deserving) serious matters without enough to balance this out. I like the vibe of the books but they aren't always as balanced as they could. To me, at least.
Grade: 6/10

No comments:

Post a Comment