** spoiler alert **
I enjoyed this immensely.
It was a beautiful love story. The hero and heroine were so beautiful to watch; so wistful and bittersweet, especially in the initial scenes after Jack's accident.
The first thing I wanted to point out is that All About Seduction suffers a few of the same ailments as another new release this year - Lecia Cornwall's Secrets of a Proper Countess
. First, I felt that more often than not the heroine was her own worst enemy and that it was just her sheer stubbornness standing in their way.
Secondly, there were no good supporting characters. There was the hero and heroine, but neither of them had any characters that supported them in anyway. All they had was each other. Both of their families were less and worthless, less than useless, and more often than not, were the cause of the situation either the hero or the heroine found themselves in.
This was disappointing, because in a novel such as this, with the darker tones, and the heroine's heinous predicament, she had no one on her side. There was no family, or even really a staff member. She sort of had her maid, but even then her maid was only really able to offer the smallest amount of moral support.
So here she is. Caroline, the heroine, was sold to a man 40+ years her senior before she was even 15 years old to cover her father's debts and bad spending. Since then, her obscenely wealthy husband, (the only reason she was married to him in the first place), has been paying for her entire family's extravagant spending and whoring ways. Now, he's got one foot in the door, and unbeknownst to Caroline, her entire inheritance upon her husband's death is contingent on her providing a male heir. They're 15 years into their marriage and because he's 70-something and can't get it up anymore, and also had two previous marriages that failed to produce any children, he's determined that Caroline will conduct an affair in order to get pregnant. At first, she's understandably horrified and refuses, until she learns that if she does not provide him with a son, she will inherit nothing when he dies and will be completely destitute.
And this is where Jack, the hero, comes in. After a series of events, miscommunications and horrible "trysts", the heroine finally conducts her "affair" with the injured Jack in order to get herself pregnant.
However, before she finally settled on Jack, she did try to "seduce" one of the men her brother provided. No, you didn't read that wrong. Yes, her brother, in fact, her entire family were in on her husband's plan for her to take a lover, and were very much in support of it. After all, if she's left destitute, who will continue to fork out the money they believe they need in order to live?
Like I said, the heroine had no one she could count on, and I believe if she'd had someone, anyone
she would have been more receptive to Jack in the beginning. But because she wasn't, she initially forbade Jack from touching her in anyway, so needless to say, their first time together, was a horrendous experience for both of them. As Jack said - it would have been much better for the both of them if he hadn't felt as if he were raping her.
Jack was a wonderful hero. He was essentially crippled for the majority of the novel, and so was reliant on other people to perform even the most basic of human functions. However, if not for this, he and Caroline would never have been together.
I loved that Jack was so in touch with his emotions, and the only time he was ever even close to being a bit of a jerk was when his ego and pride were being trampled on over and over again. Jack had always longed for Caroline, (although not under the circumstances in which they eventually came together), so this constant longing of his just made every encounter between the two that much more bittersweet and heart-wrenching. Caroline did have a similar longing for Jack, but I felt, she didn't completely understand it due to the lack of human kindness and love she'd experienced in her life.
After Jack and Caroline had fallen in love, the novel moved at warp speed. I was beginning to panic, because she did fall pregnant, and time was moving so swiftly. At the beginning of one chapter, three months had passed, and I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what happened.
I figured from the very beginning that Caroline's husband would drop dead. The only question that remained was when. And I can tell you, I was starting to worry that he wouldn't. I didn't see that Jack and Caroline could be together if he was still alive. However, only a few pages from the end, in the process of being arrested for the murder of at least one of his previous wives and as well as orchestrating the murder of one of the men Caroline had had a supposed tryst with, he did drop dead. It couldn't have happened to a more deserving person as far as I'm concerned.
I'm curious to know what happened after the epilogue of the novel. Their child was christened with Caroline's dead husband's name, however they were told they could change it now that everything with the will had been sorted, so did they? I can't imagine why they wouldn't but while it was mentioned in the telling of the story, the characters didn't actually verbally talk about it, so that left me feeling a little irritated. The irritation was alleviated however, when it was revealed they were expecting a second child.
I will admit it dipped a bit around the three quarter mark. This is when the heroine was having a real attack of conscience and crisis of faith. I felt that she was a little too resistant to the hero and as I said, if she'd been slightly more accepting of him, things wouldn't have been so awful for them for that period.
In the end however, I was left with a massive grin on my face. This was a novel that was gripping and heart-wrenching. It engages the reader's emotions, leaving them raw and completely invested in seeing the hero and heroine come together and get their happy ending.
This is the first novel by Katy Madison that I have read, and I will definitely read more from her again. This was a wonderful novel with a beautifully woven romance and I would recommend it to any romance fan, regardless of the subgenres they may prefer. 5/5
* As a side note, there is a scene between Caroline and a secondary character, Mr. Berkley. This scene may distress some readers as it dances the very fine line between being sexual assault and not being sexual assault. I would warn readers that the consent is "dubious" because while Caroline is saying yes because she thinks she has no other choice, she doesn't actually want it.