The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton Miranda Neville
Avon, July 26, 2011, $7.99
The story of Tarquin Compton, London’s most feared dandy, and Celia Seaton, a governess whose life he ruined with one careless quip. Find out what happens when they meet by chance in the middle of nowhere ...
Being kidnapped teaches Miss Celia Seaton a few things about life
Never disrobe in front of a gentleman ... unless his request comes at gunpoint.
If, when lost on the moors, you encounter Tarquin Compton, the leader of London society who ruined your marriage prospects, deny any previous acquaintance.
If offered an opportunity to get back at Mr. Compton, the bigger the lie, the better. A faux engagement should do nicely.
Not all knowledge is found between the covers of a book. But an improper book may further your education in ways you never guessed.
And while an erotic novel may be entertaining, the real thing is even better.
The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton is the third book in Miranda Neville’s Burgundy Club series, based on a club of rare book collectors. This is Tarquin Compton’s book. Tarquin is the club’s dandy, always elegantly dressed and considered an arbiter of fashion in the ton. He is so reserved and judgmental that his story could not be anything but interesting.
Miranda Neville pulls out all the stops in this book. Name a romance novel trope and she’s got it. We begin with Celia Seaton, our heroine, escaping from a kidnapper and running across Tarquin who has just been hit on the head by said kidnapper and lost his memory. They set off on foot to get away before the kidnapper returns. So, what we have for the first third of the book is a fleeing from the kidnapper, amnesiac road story. It’s fun. Celia recognizes Tarquin, but having been snubbed by him during her single season and not feeling particularly charitable toward him, lies to him about who he is. The two of them trek barefoot through the Yorkshire countryside, falling in love, until Tarquin regains his memory.
Once he figures out who he is and where he is, he takes her to his estate and the book turns into a couple caught in a compromising position and forced into a betrothal book. Eventually they end up at the estate of the Duke of Hampton (see The Dangerous Viscount for more about this duke and his progeny) and the book takes a turn into a house party story, during which Tarquin and Celia, who have broken their engagement, reconsider their positions.
Oh, and did I mention that there’s a missing jewel subplot?
Neville handles these variously morphing tropes with a deft hand, allowing the change of scene and circumstances to illuminate the characters of Tarquin and Celia as they get to know each other in a variety of situations. And each change is diverting. You’ll enjoy the journey.
However, possibly my favorite scene is the denouement of the second (yes, second) kidnapping. Celia is abducted from the house party by the original kidnapper and taken the estate’s ice house.
Constantine (the kidnapper) has her in the dark ice house, knife at her throat, saying “No one’s going hear you scream,” when one after another, characters who will most definitely hear Celia scream begin to enter the ice house. At one point, after the arrival of two of the characters:
If she wasn’t so horribly aware of the gaping abyss beneath her and Constantine’s grip on her shoulder, Celia would have laughed. This chamber – whatever its purpose – was becoming crowded and the duchess was regarding the new arrival as she might a naked footman.
Finally, Tarquin arrives. By this time I was giggling and thinking of the stateroom scene from the Marx Brothers film, A Night at the Opera.
The ice house scene could have been improved only by a manicurist and a snoozing Harpo. It’s a great climax to an entertaining trip through the encyclopedia of romantic tropes.
For more about this book and the Burgundy Club series visit Miranda Neville’s web site.
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