Tin's Reviews > The Seduction of Emily

The Seduction of Emily by Rachel Brimble
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Apr 17, 2013

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Disclosure: I received a copy from the tour organizer as part of the book tour. Yes, this is an honest review.

There is a problem when your hero starts out with a less-than-heroic past and this is the case of Rachel Brimble's Will Samson. He is a former pickpocket and confidence trickster who is trying to reform. But how does one trust a con artist? How does one know if he is telling the truth? Rachel Brimble delves into this dilemma in her novel, The Seduction of Emily.

After discovering about his mother's brutal assault at the hands of Milne years before, Will sets put to Bath to exact his revenge on the man responsible. But his simple plan of revenge gets complicated when he meets and falls in love with Nicholas Milne's beautiful fiancée, Emily Darson.

Emily, herself, is in a bind. A contract drawn up by her father and Nicholas' forces Emily into a marriage to Nicholas -- or else forfeit her father's half in the successful tobacco business their two fathers built. Even though the wedding is months away, Emily could already feel the walls closing in on her -- trapping her into a position and a life of Nicholas' pleasure.

The ruse was that a marriage contract was drawn up to ensure the money remained in both founders’ families. Further investigation led Will to discover just how trapped Emily was. If either party refused to marry, the willing party received everything. Milne and Emily each had solid motivation to marry the other.
- p. 45

When Will discovers the terms of the agreement, he knows that he must not endanger Emily's inheritance and future -- but, despite his best intentions, he cannot help but be drawn in by Emily's beauty and boldness.

This story has an interesting premise and an air-tight contract that binds the heroine to another -- there is a point in the story when Will loses sight of his purpose and gets helplessly lost in his attraction to Emily that I felt the author also lost sight of her original project. There are details in the story that left me confused:

1. Why would Emily's father sign a contract that doesn't provide an escape plan for his own daughter? In the early part of the story, I thought that the contract was drawn up before Emily was born (p. 15), which would mean he didn't have clear expectations of the future -- but then I discovered that the contract was finalized when Emily was around 11 (p. 86), which means that he already knew he would be saddling Emily with a problem.

2. How is it possible for Emily and her father to trust Will so easily? Based on his attire, and his own admission of his lack of finances -- not to mention the very little time they have known each other (2 weeks) I didn't see it as a reasonable step to converse with and then invite such a man to live under one's roof -- and then trusting him with the safety of one's daughter.

The novel has some good points as well: I appreciated the dilemma that our hero and heroine if be themselves in: Will is seeking justice -- but, in order to accomplish it, he must use the old tricks of his former trade: lie and manipulate his way into the Darsons' good graces. It chips away at Will's soul and we see him feel conflicted about his own methods. Does the end justify the means? In Will's case, the answer is yes. He is willing to blacken his own soul in order the save the women involved in Nicholas's life.

Emily's dilemma is harder for her to solve: her father's agreement with his former partner has left her with no options. If she doesn't marry Nicholas, she and her father lose it all. (Again, I question the signing of the contract in the first place). If she chooses freedom, she will burden herself and her father with an uncertain future and of certain poverty. If she proceeds with the marriage to Nicholas, she knows it will also be the end of her life.

Of all the characters, I thought Emily's personality shown through the most: I envisioned her as a woman with the world crumbling above her head and she is trying her best to keep it overhead. She juggles caring and assuring her father, and then maintaining good relations with Nicholas and then managing Will.

As Will and Emily spiral into confusion and through a path neither one foresaw, I wish the author was able to maintain her control of the story and its trajectory. The story starts and ends well, but the middle part needed a lot of clarification.
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