~purchase a copy here~
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: HQN Books (January 1, 2010)
Genre: Historical Romance
Main Characters: Gareth, Jenny and Ned.
Book Origin: Via Netgalley Harlequin provided me with an E-ARC
She is his last chance for a future of happiness.
Jenny Keeble has never let her humble upbringing stop her. She’s made her way in the world as a fortune teller, one who convinces her clients her predictions are correct by telling them what they most want to hear. Business is good… until she meets her match in the form of Gareth Carhart, the Marquess of Blakely, a scientist and sworn bachelor.
He just doesn’t know it yet.
Broodingly handsome, Gareth is appalled to discover his cousin has fallen under the spell of "Madame Esmerelda," and he vows to prove her a fraud. But his unexpected attraction to the fiery enchantress defies logic. Jenny disrupts every facet of Gareth's calculated plan— until he can’t decide whether to ruin her or claim her for his own. Now, as they engage in a passionate battle of wills, two lonely souls must choose between everything they know . . . and the boundless possibilities of love.
Courtney Milan has proven to be one of those authors who can deliver a story for me that I start in and hours later can close with an utter feeling of romantic satisfaction. Her prose provides a flow in the story that is both easily read and certain phrasing comes across as befitting of the time period. Yet most of all I really enjoyed her descriptions that could instantly set the tone or describe unique character traits. Like the following; ‘his eyes were those of a lion; tawny, ferocious and more than a little feral.’ It instantly added a raw, unpredictable edge to Gareth that was contradicting his rigid attitude of propriety and responsibility.
If there is one thing that I can say about this debut novel is that Milan excels in characterization. Especially the three who took such a prominent role in PROOF BY SEDUCTION. The first on that really wooed me with his personality is Gareth, I just can’t help but love a man who knows he is imperfect but can’t help himself from acting or responding in a certain way. His upbringing is part to blame and Gareth is stuck in a pattern of behavior that will need a stubborn woman to shake him out of. As I gradually read the chapters I was more and more enamored by Gareth, his social skills are a nightmare, yet he is also passionate and most of the times so very formal in his behavior. The alternation between these intriguing sides of him was a heady mix to take in as a reader.
Now Esmerelda aka Jenny Keeble was a heroine I mostly liked. She matched her intellect and wit with Gareth and it delivers heated dialogues. Their clash of gender is at times so hungry for connection, to draw one another out of their shell and it takes a better part of the story to lay it all bare for each other. Jenny is confronted with her decisions, her actions and the repercussions from it. She has to make amends and Gareth saw straight through her fake persona of Mme. Esmerelda. For all her bold, courageous ways there was an occasion or two where I felt she was a little haughty, like she had all the wisdom to teach Gareth what to do and how to do it.
As Gareth and Jenny developed an intricate relationship with each other I felt that it wouldn’t have happened the way it all did, had it not been for Ned. He is the kind of supportive character that adds a unique point of view to the story. He is young enough for stupid mistakes, serious enough to show the incredible mature man he is going to be with still the loyalty and eagerness of his young age. He is this vibrant character who I cherished throughout the story and I was ecstatic to find he is going to have his own story. Because if there is one thing that Courtney Milan has given him in Proof By Seduction is a buildup of character that screams to be explored further.
Along with the characters that made a lasting impression on me I found out this author managed to make the chemistry express itself mainly via interaction and body language but is very mild on the actual love making. In this day and age the heat level can be far more scorching but this story was more reminiscent of the more older historical romances. Though I’m not a fan of ballroom settings it was the prose of Milan that fueled my imagination with rich colored fabrics, environment and dressed-up people. She made the scenes exhilaration to explore from a society ball to the working class house of Jenny.
What else leaves me to say then; PROOF BY SEDUCTION is a debut novel told by emotion-driven characters that you will like from the get-go.
Quote Gareth:4 stars
He hungered for human connection. For contact, skin against skin. Soul against soul. And with Jenny, his most private name on her lips