Lady of Seduction
Forever, May 31, 2011, $7.99
It's a mad, ill-advised journey that leads the usually sensible Lady Caroline Blacknall to the legendary isle of Muirin Inish, off the windswept coast of Ireland. Even so, she doesn't expect to find herself shipwrecked and then rescued by a man she believed she would never see again. A man who, long ago, held her life in his hands . . . and with it, her heart.
Reformed rake Sir Grant Dunmore knew he could never forget the beautiful woman he once endangered nor will he ever forgive himself. But history seems doomed to repeat itself, for as long as Caroline stays on the island, she is trapped in a secret plot that could forever free Ireland-or turn deadly for all. And yet, now that she is in his arms again, how can he dream of ever letting her go?
Lady of Seduction is the final book in Laurel McKee's Daughters of Erin Trilogy, featuring the Blacknall Sisters in Georgian Ireland. The book begins with Caroline Blacknall, washed up on the remote Irish Island of Muirin Inish, home of Grant Dunmore, who had apparently kidnapped her and suffered a warehouse fire with her in a previous book. An unforgettable experience with an unforgettable man. In essence, this book is about Caroline and Grant's journey back to Dublin and into love. Both work well.
Laurel McKee brings a gift for vivid description to her writing. Much of this book—the setting, the characters, the growth of the relationship—is embodied in the tale's descriptive narrative.
After Grant rescues Caroline from the wreck of the ship that brought her to Muirin Inish, she wakes up in his home:
She wore a strange nightgown that was much too large for her, a voluminous tent of white flannel that flapped over her hands and pooled around her feet. Those feet were bare, the scarred wooden floor cold under her soles.
In this short paragraph, McKee manages to set the scene of a girl suddenly alone in a strange and isolated place. We know, based on one sentence that her clothes are lost, that she doesn't know where she is, and that wherever she has ended up is old, in poor condition, and cold.
Soon we get a better understanding of Grant Dunmore's castle:
The library was dark and full of drifting shadows. The heavy brown velvet drapes at the windows were drawn back, but very little light filtered through the grimy glass. The fire in the grate drove away some of the chill and cast a small circle of brightness over the worn chairs and settees gathered close to it.
This reinforces the first impression and perhaps says something about Dunmore, who is the owner of this desolate place.
When Caroline and Grant share their first kiss, the dark secrets of the castle are echoed in Grant:
His lips met hers roughly, urgently. She felt the sweep of his tongue against her lips, and she opened to him. He tasted of the rain, of something dark and secret that she craved so much. She tangled her fingers in his hair, loosening it from its tie until it spilled over her hands like silk.
And speaking of Grant:
The thin, fine fabric of his shirt clung damply to his chest, outlining every angle of his body.
Later, as Grant and Caroline make their way toward Dublin, the abandoned countryside evokes a land preparing for uprising or invasion.
They glimpsed Hakley Hall from a distance as they passed on a ridge, and the stolid gray stone house was still shuttered and quiet, as it was when they stopped yesterday. There were no cows or sheep in the meadows, and very few workers in the ripe summer fields.
And then the sharp distinction between the deserted country and the life inside Dublin's gates:
The smells of the city, the sweet ladies' perfumes, roasted meats, and sugary spiced almonds from vendors' carts mixed with tang of human waste in the gutters and the fishiness of the river, all blended with something acrid and odd. Something very like fear.
None of the description is gratuitous. Every bit sets the necessary scene, enlightens the plot, enhances the characters. The book is worth reading for the description alone. For more about this book, visit Laurel McKee's website.
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