Fans of Eloisa James & Julia Quinn discussion

Monday Puzzler > Puzzler: 2 September 2019

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message 1: by Leigh-Ayn (new)

Leigh-Ayn | 1127 comments Happy Spring / Fall to you all!
I really enjoyed this scene in which the hero's cousin tries to help him become "seductive"! To set the scene the Hero has to go to an underground "club".
Happy Puzzling!

“Very well.” He exhaled. “If that’s the best option, I’ll go.” His cousin grinned. He was altogether too invested in Hero’s descent into the underworld.


“I just need the address,” Hero continued. Cousin stepped back, releasing his shoulder.

“Hold a moment. You can’t go like that.”

“Like what?” Hero frowned.

“Like a walking sermon,” his cousin explained. “You’ll never fit in that way.” He waved at Hero’s simple black clerical clothing.

“No one will act naturally around you. At the very least, you’ll have to change your clothes.”

“To what?”

“No ecclesiastical black, for one thing. You can be a little more exuberant in your choice of colors.”

“I don’t have anything else,” Hero complained.

“Tomorrow, go to my tailor on Jermyn Street,” Cousin said. “Tell him you’re my cousin. He’ll have you fitted with something in a trice. Don’t worry, old man, you can still wear dark colors, but please, lose the black.”

“I can’t afford to have a suit of clothes made up in a day,” Hero exclaimed.

“Don’t worry about the cost,” his cousin assured him. “I’ll pay any price to sully my uncorrupted cousin.” Hero was going to object, but, hell, if receiving one suit of clothes meant finding the Lady, then he’d accept it. Cousin was appallingly wealthy. Such a thing meant nothing to him. Even so, Hero vowed to himself that he’d pay his cousin back.

“So my wardrobe is settled,” Hero said decisively. “That means I’m ready to go.”

“This is just the beginning!” Cousin threw wide his arms. “You’ll need a mask.”

“I haven’t got one lying around,” Hero answered wryly.

“Just a moment . . .” Cousin strode to his desk and rifled around in the drawers for several moments. “Aha!” he cried, pulling out a half mask.

“What are you doing with a mask in your desk?” wondered Hero.

“If you have to ask . . .” His cousin handed the item to him. It was ink-blue leather, with finely wrought gold embroidery around the edges. “Be sure to wear that,” Cousin continued as Hero pocketed the domino. “Don’t shave for a few days so you have some stubble. And slick back your hair,” he commanded. “Darken it, as well. The color’s too distinctive.”

His head spinning, Hero removed a notebook from his inside pocket.

“Just a moment.” He scribbled on the pages with a pencil. “Don’t shave,” he muttered as he wrote. “Hair. Darken.” He glanced up to see his cousin laughing.

“Only you would take notes on how to attend an orgy,” Cousin said with a shake of his head.

“It’s a considerable amount to remember,” Hero muttered. “So, my ensemble and appearance are taken care of. I’m prepared.”

Cousin held up his hand. “Easy on the reins, cuz. We’ve taken care of the externals. But it’s the internals that are equally important at an event like this one.”

Hero’s brow furrowed. “What are you blathering on about?”

“It’s not blather if it comes from decades of experience,” his cousin answered good-naturedly. He tapped Hero in the center of his chest. “How you conduct yourself at the club is as important as, if not more so than, how you look.”

“I’m not going to assault anyone, if that’s what you’re concerned about,” Hero snapped. “I’m not going to read anyone passages from the Bible, either.”

“You want to fit in, don’t you, so you don’t draw unwanted attention to yourself?” At Hero’s nod, Cousin continued. “Then it’s important for you to act like you belong there. And that means acting sexual and confident.”

Hero drew himself up to his full, not inconsiderable, height. “I can do that.” His cousin looked dubious. “Can you? You’re probably a virgin.”

Face hot as a furnace, Hero said, “I’m not. There was . . .” He cleared his throat. “One woman.”

Cousin rolled his eyes. “How many years ago?”

After a long pause, Hero answered, “Five.”

His cousin heaved a sigh. “All right, old man, let’s discuss how to act like a rake.”

Hero grimaced. “Must we?”

“We must,” Cousin insisted. “Approach it like you would a theosophical conundrum. Besides, perhaps afterwards you can use what I tell you to find yourself a nice, wicked little vicar’s wife.”

“I won’t do that,” Hero insisted at once, but inside, he paused. Could he? Use his cousin’s skills at seduction to secure himself a woman? The only woman he wanted was Lady Heroine, but he couldn’t have her. Still, it would be nice to approach her with more confidence, more self-assurance, instead of feeling as though he was blundering and lumbering around her like a bear in a clerical collar.

“Are you going to take my advice or not?” Cousin pressed. Hero exhaled.

“Bestow it upon me, O wise one.”

Cousin pointed to a chair by the fire. “Have a seat, and take copious notes.”

Deciding it was best to humor his cousin, Hero sat in the suggested chair and held up his notebook, poised at the ready. Seeing that he had Hero’s full attention, Cousin clasped his hands behind his back, assuming his most professorial manner and tone.

“First of all,” he intoned, “you have to know that you can give a woman the best night of her life.”

“Seems an odd way of starting a conversation,” Hero said, looking up from his notes. “‘ Pleased to meet you. I can make you see stars in bed.’”

Cousin made a scoffing sound. “You don’t say it, dunderhead. You think it. You feel it. Then it shows in your face, your movements.” He planted his hands on his hips. “Let me see your best smoldering look.”

“What?” Hero set his notebook on his knee. “Just do it.”

Hero attempted to smolder, imagining he was channeling all the sexual energy of Lothario and Casanova and Byron at some distant point across the room.

“You look like you want to murder someone,” Cousin exclaimed in disgust, and Hero deflated.

“Imagine that you’re looking at someone you desperately desire, someone whose skin you long to feel, someone you want so badly, every part of you hurts. And you’re trying to communicate to her that making love to her would be the pinnacle of your worthless existence. Can my virtuous cousin attempt to imagine such a woman?”

Hero imagined trying to impart to Lady Heroine through looks alone all the pent-up longing he felt for her. Letting her know just how much he desired her. How greatly he wanted to worship her body for as long as she would let him. That she would become the sole object of his universe if only she gave him the chance.

“Jesus,” Cousin muttered. “I didn’t think you had it in you.” Hero shook his head, coming back to himself. His cousin continued, “It almost makes me think . . .” He peered at Hero. “As if you were thinking of a specific woman when you gave that look.”

At once, Hero said, “There’s no one.”

He didn’t want Cousin considering Lady Heroine in any way. “Shame,” his cousin said. “A woman would want to be looked at that way.” He smiled. “If I wasn’t married, related to you, and inclined toward the amorous company of women, you’d have me in a heartbeat.”

“Thank God for all those ‘ifs,’” Hero said wryly, but inside, he exulted. Perhaps it wasn’t impossible for him to play the part of the rake, after all. He only needed to imagine every woman he came across as Lady Heroine. Of course, he wouldn’t act on any of the signals he would be sending out, but it was good to have a plan. He wouldn’t be swimming in completely uncharted waters.

“You’ve got your smolder down,” Cousin continued. “That’s good. But it’s about more than the lure of sexual satisfaction. You must remember that every woman you encounter is a human being, with thoughts, feelings, and ideas of her own. Treat her with respect, never as an object for sating your lusts. There is no such thing as a conquest. Conquering is for bullies. A seduction is for both parties, not just the man’s gratification.”

Oh, all this was good. Hero wrote hurriedly, trying to keep pace with his cousin’s advice.

“Take your time,” Cousin went on, fully warmed to his topic. He paced back and forth, expounding. “Nothing is less appealing than a man who’s in a hurry. Which brings me to my other point—”

“Slow down!” Hero exclaimed as his pencil flew across the notebook page. “I can’t keep up.”

“Look lively, damn it!” his cousin barked. “Genius doesn’t dawdle.”

After stretching his hand to relieve a cramp, Hero continued taking notes. “Go on.”

“My other point,” Cousin said with a pointed look in his direction, “is to leave a woman wanting. Never give her everything she desires all at once. Women like the chase just as much as men do, and if there’s anything they cannot abide it is a desperate man. A man who clings like wet muslin is just soggy, not seductive.”

“How on earth am I supposed to remember all this?” Hero asked when his cousin paused.

“You’ve always had a scholarly bent,” Cousin decreed. “Only this time, you’ll be studying something useful.” Hero shot him a dry look, then shook his head.

“I’d no idea seduction was such an art.”

Cousin raised one finger. “Depend on it, my lad. It’s not a truncheon but a sword, to be wielded only by the most skilled men and women. It shows you the measure of my esteem for you that I consent to share this advice at all.”

Hero inclined his head. “I am deeply honored.”

“As you should be,” Cousin said solemnly. Then spoiled the whole effect by grinning. “I don’t want to overload your brain and bollocks with too much information at once. I think this is a good starting point.”

message 2: by Dls (new)

Dls | 2059 comments Mod
I’m sure I haven’t read this.

message 3: by Manda (new)

Manda Collins (manda_collins) | 1878 comments Mod
I have a guess because I bought it when it was on sale a few weeks ago but haven't read it yet.

message 4: by Chocolatesoup (new)

Chocolatesoup | 355 comments I don't know this one but I'm intrigued

message 5: by Susan (new)

Susan (susaninaz) | 984 comments I know this. Unusual choice, but funny.

message 6: by Amber (new)

Amber | 161 comments I haven’t a clue, but it sounds fun.

message 7: by Nicole (new)

Nicole (nikanne) | 222 comments I'm intrigued. It sounds familiar but I don't think it is the book I'm remembering.

message 8: by Janna (new)

Janna MacGregor | 31 comments I've read it, and I loved it! Great choice! XO!

message 9: by Leigh-Ayn (new)

Leigh-Ayn | 1127 comments The book is Temptations of a Wallflower by Eva Leigh

I enjoyed the first half of the book but I will admit I haven't finished it yet. Not due to any fault of the book!

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