An Inconvenient Seduction, by Ava Young

>> Sunday, March 11, 2012

TITLE: An Inconvenient Seduction
AUTHOR: Ava Young

PAGES: 356
PUBLISHER: self-published

SETTING: 1870s England
TYPE: Romance

London, 187-. Lucy Nightingale generally can find a solution to any problem, though it might require behaviour some would consider unorthodox. But this one seems insurmountable. Her recently deceased father has mortgaged the family chocolate shop to a moneylender, and if she doesn't repay the loan by the end of the month, she and her younger brother will be out on the streets.

Marcus Somerville is one of London's up-and-coming financiers. A paltry chocolate shop like Nightingales normally would be far beneath his attention - but not when its owner is the most desirable woman he's encountered in a long time.

The bargain: Marcus will lend Lucy the money, and all she has to do is dine with him twice and accompany him to the theatre. Lucy's confident she'll protect her virtue, Marcus that he'll overcome it. But what seems straightforward is suddenly becoming a most inconvenient seduction...
An Inconvenient Seduction came to my attention when Jane mentioned it on twitter. I'm always looking for historical romance with characters from outside the aristocracy, and this one, with a heroine who owns a shop and a hero who's a financier, sounded good. Unfortunately, while Young shows promise, this wasn't as good as I'd hoped.

Lucy Nightingale has just inherited her father's chocolate shop, and is shocked to find out that he didn't have much business sense. It turns out he took a loan at a truly usurious rate of interest, and the loan is due pretty much immediately. Her attempts to get a more reasonable loan fail, until she meets financier Marcus Sommerville and he offers her a deal.

Marcus and Lucy met cute while swimming in a public bathhouse (both had made deals with different people to access the bathhouse out of hours), and Marcus has been lusting after her ever since. So when they meet again, he sees the perfect opportunity to make her his mistress. Lucy, however, is not playing, and she negotiates a quite different -and more proper- deal with him. Her agreement to go for dinner and attend the theatre with him will still allow Marcus the chance to do his best to seduce her, though, so he accepts.

AIS started out well, but after reading the first half relatively quickly, I completely lost interest. There were several things annoying me.

Mainly, Young's idea of 1870s London was quite a big problem for me. I'm not pedantic about little historical details, but I do want verisimilitude, and I didn't get it from these characters at all. They felt completely off in a Victorian setting. It was things like Lucy, the owner of a small chocolate shop, being friends with an aristocrat and no one batting an eyelid. Or her being immediately befriended by and telling all her troubles to Marcus' sisters, who are rich and clients at her shop. Or like her worrying about what the gossip sheets would make about her being engrossed in conversation over dinner with a certain financier, so much so that she and Marcus have to arrange a fake story to guard her reputation -I found it hard to believe the scandal sheets would have given a shit. Or like Marcus' family being downright positive about him being involved with Lucy, even though he's got enough money now to be hobnobbing with the aristocracy (none of whom seem to care one whit that he's not of their class). There are no class distinctions in Young's Victorian England, none at all.

It was especially disappointing, because the actual physical setting is wonderfully done. Young took me to places I don't remember having gone before, like public baths, or an omnibus, and the descriptions were evocative and vivid.

I tried to push on, past characters behaving in completely unbelievable ways, past Lucy flip-flopping (I don't want to be your mistress! Actually, on the other hand, I'll let you get me off practically in public. But oh, no, I don't want to be your lover! Although, yes, thanks for asking, I'll go to Cornwall with you.), past Marcus being an immature idiot, and I got all the way past the 50% mark. And there I stopped. I'd have enough. I kept this open for a couple of weeks, hoping I'd be able to go back to it and make it to the end, but I'm just not interested. Disappointing.



Maili,  11 March 2012 at 10:14  

Yes, it was a DNF for me as well. It seems you got much further than I did, though. I think I gave up at around 30% mark? I can't remember what my issue was now, but I think I felt Lucy's apparently serious debt was merely a MacGuffin. Author's excuse for her and Marcus to meet. No sense of urgency, no serious concern about a possibility of going to debtors' prison and blah blah. I wanted to like it, but gah. Shame, really. 

Shannon,  11 March 2012 at 19:53  

Aw, man! I read "owner of a chocolate shop" and I was ready to buy it.  It sounded like it had so much potential. Sorry you didn't like it.   :(

rosario001,  12 March 2012 at 10:14  

I think the 30% mark was probably where I started to really struggle. I think I wouldn't have minded the debt thing being a MacGuffin (which it very definitely was, you're right!), as long as the rest had been good, but as it was, it was only yet another thing that didn't work. Oh, well, at least it was cheap!

rosario001,  12 March 2012 at 10:17  

I know, it sounds so good from the description, doesn't it? I hope we see more historicals focussing on the merchant classes, there's so much unexplored territory there!

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