Proof By Seduction, by Courtney Milan

>> Tuesday, June 17, 2014

TITLE: Proof By Seduction
AUTHOR: Courtney Milan

COPYRIGHT: 2010
PAGES: 352
PUBLISHER: HQN

SETTING: 19th century England
TYPE: Romance
SERIES: Followed by Trial By Desire

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.

He just didn't know it yet

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.

Proof By Seduction is my least favourite Courtney Milan book so far. However, given how much I adore all the others, this merely means it's only quite good.

Jenny Keeble has for years been supporting herself by playing Madame Esmerelda, a fortune-teller. One of her clients is Ned Carhart, a young aristocrat. Ned has issues with depression, but since Madame Esmerelda told him he had a wonderful, happy future, that has given him hope and he seems to be doing better.

And then his cousin Gareth, the Marquess of Blakely, finds out about her. Gareth is a scientist, so he immediately knows the woman is a fake and must be taking advantage of Ned. He insists on coming to meet her, and when Ned sees him challenge her, he asks Jenny to demonstrate to Gareth that she's the real thing by making a prediction. I won't go into details about this (it's pretty silly), but it works to throw Gareth and Jenny together and the silliness helps slowly thaw Gareth's cold kind of rationality.

This is a mainly character-driven romance. That's my favourite kind, when done well, and it requires really good characters. Milan gets that mostly right. I liked Gareth well enough (although the cold scientist thing felt a bit clich├ęd, to be honest, and I really enjoyed Jenny. She's in a difficult situation, where she knows what she's doing with Ned is not *right*, but can't really see a way of telling him the truth without harming him. I wasn't crazy about the way it turned out, but I did understand it.

Jenny and Gareth are a good couple together, even if having the cold aristocrat being made to unbend and become more human by the inappropriate heroine is not particularly revolutionary. Milan takes this common plot and makes it feel more real, by making her characters feel real.

There is a further book in this world, telling Ned's story. I will be reading it at some point, even though I suspect I could have some issues buying a HEA for a character with mental health issues in a historical setting. However, if anyone can be trusted to deal with this well, it's Ms. Milan.

MY GRADE: A B.

3 comments:

Sun,  17 June 2014 at 05:21  

I love this book, but probably because it was my first encounter with Ms Milan. There is a very well-written prequel to this series in the anthology "The Heart of Christmas". Too bad you can't buy it separately.

Rosario 18 June 2014 at 06:45  

I've had that experience with several authors. It's not so much the book, but the way I felt when I was reading it. I think I have The Heart of Christmas. Did it have a Balogh short story as well?

Rosario 18 June 2014 at 06:46  

I just checked... yes, it did, and yes, it's on the TBR. Great!

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