This is the second book in the Seduction Diaries series, following ‘Diary of an Accidental Wallflower’ which I read last year. The heroine here is Lucy Westmore, sister to Clare from the first book. I liked the first book well enough, but this one really didn’t do it for me as much. The biggest problem for me was Lucy’s stubborn personality.
Lucy is twenty-one and is hurtling towards her debut, something she is dreading with all her being. She has no desire to look for a suitable husband and get married, fearing the shackles of matrimony will take away her freedom. She’s portrayed as free-spirited, but she really has been in the protected bubble of money and is quite naive of the ways of the world. Then she inherits a cottage in Cornwall from her elderly Aunt E, who was a spinster and Lucy takes this as a sign she should grab the opportunity to live her life alone as well. However, her father has other ideas and sells the cottage to Lord Branston for a small amount of cash.
Thomas, Marquess of Branston, was a friend of Aunt E’s, having escaped to Cornwall after the death of his sister. He felt that he failed her after she turned up alone and pregnant, then taking her own life. He had been a studious young man, but fell in with evil companions after graduation, spending more time drunk than anything. The gossip was more than he could take and he left London. Miss E took him under her wing and convinced him to sober up. He has a reason for wanting the cottage, and after Lucy sends him a letter to refuse his offer he decides to return to London to speak with her in person.
In the meantime, she has decided she has to see the place herself, convinced that her father is not telling the truth about the cottage’s condition. One problem – she has no cash for the train fare to get to Cornwall. Solution – she sells her hair to the wig maker for cash. This leads to meeting Thomas for the first time dressed as a boy (her disguise to get to the wig maker alone) and they have a clash of wills from the start. Subsequently, she sneaks out of the house and off to the train station. Her whole focus is getting to Cornwall, not thinking about anything after the fact. Thomas spots her at the station, and joins her for the ride. She feels slowly charmed by him, but eventually convinces herself he is only being nice to purchase the cottage from her. From then on, no matter what he says or does, she stubbornly refuses to listen to reason. More than once, I was ready to give up reading as I couldn’t understand why he would continue to be nice to her.
She arrives in the village of Lizard Bay, and promptly tells everyone to call her Miss L instead of Lucy and spends two days wandering around asking folks to take her out to the cottage. She gets turned down left and right as the townfolk believe the cottage is haunted. Thomas quite nicely offers to take her, but of course she refuses his help time and time again. Finally she decides to set out on her own, without any idea of which direction to go, in the rain, wearing the long skirts and god knows what kind of shoes on a rocky trail, dragging her bag behind her. Thomas finally convinces her to let him guide her and when they reach the cottage she thinks the one room she sees is good enough and she tells him to leave. At this point I wanted him to wash his hands of her, and leave her to the rats. He does leave after futile attempts to change her mind, and she is alone in the dark, her clothes wet, and no idea how to start a fire or fend for herself. Now, I’ve read enough historical romance books to know that the clothing of the time wasn’t easy to get out of alone, especially for someone accustomed to having help from a maid. I can’t understand how we’re supposed to believe that she has been doing all of this on her own. It finally starts to dawn on her that this adventure isn’t what she was expecting, and the sound of the wind scares the hell out of her. She screams, Thomas comes to the rescue (he’d been hiding out of sight, unable to leave completely of course) and she starts to change her mind about him.
Thomas was a wonderful hero – kind, patient, charming and had a penchant for composing limericks. Lucy exasperated me, and fell into the TSTL category more often than not, though she does grow up somewhat eventually. There’s a bit of a twist at the end of the book I didn’t see coming, but it doesn’t really add much to the story. Lucy’s conflict with her father was cleared up very quickly as well in the rush to wind up the story. Overall, a frustrating read and I’m happy to be done with it.
So this is my 26th review, and the number I set as my goal for the Cannonball Read, guess I’m done here!