Caroline Broadhurst gave up everything for the sake of her family. When she was just 15 years old, she was married off-to a wealthy mill owner who was old enough to be her grandfather. For years now she has suffered his attentions. And worse she's never once gotten pregnant from them, the one thing she's always wanted. Suddenly her husband's health begins to take a turn for the worse, and with his age he worries that soon he will no longer be around. He wants an heir to continue his business and his name. There is just one problem: though he won't admit it to anyone else, he's sterile, something he has had to accept after three young wives over a span of three or four decades and no children from any of them. Determined to have a child, even if it won't technically be of his blood, he forces Caroline to choose a man (out of the ones he has picked out) and seduce him, and to keep doing so until she finds herself pregnant.
Jack Applegate is just a lowly mill worker for Mr. Broadhurst. But from the first day that he saw Caroline, back when she was a new bride, he's dreamed of a life with her-if only he had more to offer her. With no money, no home, no real future, how could he hope to win her over, little loan support her? When an unfortunate mill accident lands him on his back with a crushed ankle, he never would have guessed that Caroline may secretly have some feelings for him too-why else would she fight with her husband to keep Jack up at the main house until he has recovered? But while he's there he notices her flirting with the many gentlemen that are staying for the hunt, and he begins to wonder if perhaps he was wrong about the type of woman she is...
When she finally tells him the truth, he offers to help her; he may be injured, but, as he clearly reminds her, it is only his leg that is not working properly anymore. He's been dreaming of this for years, and now he finally has it: Caroline in his bed. But it's nowhere near what he dreamed of. Disgusted by the act, as well as used to the pain that it has caused her over the years, she is determined to use him only for his seed. No touching, no exploring, no kissing. It should sound like every man's dream experience, but in reality it's almost enough to make a man lose his excitement. Can he show Caroline that what they are doing is not a sin, and that when it is with someone you love it can be enjoyable?
From page one, I had a very hard time getting into this book. I hated the storyline, the romance was completely MIA, and the secondary characters had more substance than the hero and heroine. For the first time in a while, I honestly was waiting for the book to end before it had even really begun. But I had hopes that it would improve, that it would get better. My hopes were in vain; as much as I hate to say such a thing, I truly disliked this novel.
Even though I am sure there are such husbands out there, especially during Caroline's time, who would plan such a horrible thing, forcing their wife to have sex with random men, such a storyline is not one for a romance novel. I don't know of any reader that wants such a storyline, no matter how (slightly) realistic it might be, in their love stories. No matter how talented the author, no matter the reason behind such a plot, no matter the characters in the book-it will never work, and All About Seduction proves that.
But I could have dealt with the plot line if there had been more substance to the characters. Though the story was told mainly through Caroline's point of view, I never connected with her. By the end of the novel, she was still just a woman's name that kept appearing on the page. She wasn't a strong heroine, she never once stood up for herself, and she brought nothing to the story, at least as far as helping the readers to enjoy it more. We never once gained any insight into her personal life, her thoughts and feelings and memories, the things that make her who she is. Nope, instead we just get the basics, through conversations with other people mainly: that she was married young, has other siblings, etc. The most emotion we ever get out of her is when her disgust for the martial act shows through, and even that is weak. I want a strong heroine in my romance novel, one that seems to leap off the page and into the room next to me, not one that vanishes into the ink of the book and never shows herself.
Jack wasn't much better. I had a hard time picturing him as the hero of this story. Sure, he seemed like a nice enough guy, one who wanted a better life and such, but his character was also lacking. He sounded more like the young teenager who has a crush on an older woman, even though the two are near the same age. I didn't get where his obsession with her came from, nor his sudden love for her later in the book. I wasn't rooting for him, hoping he would have his happily ever after with Caroline. In fact, due to the lack of character building and substance, I wouldn't have cared if Caroline had been stuck with Mr. Broadhurst her entire life and Jack had been forced to return to the beat up worker's cottage. That is simply not the response one wants to hear from the reader, nor is it what the reader wants to say, especially when it is a romance novel.
2 STARS! A flawed book, in my opinion, and one that confused me: how can it be listed as a romance novel when I saw no hint of such a thing in the entire book? Perhaps, for some readers out there, this book will provide an entertaining read. But not for me. I'm unsure if I will pick up future books by this author, because the writing and characters were lacking so much in this one. All About Seduction is missing all of the key elements that a good romance needs: loveable characters, an interesting plot, lively banter and, most importantly, romance. Lacking in both heat and tenderness, the "romance" in this one was unlike any I've ever read-and sadly that is not meant in a good way. This is one of those rare books I read where after turning the last page I'm not in any way upset over the fact that it is over.
She had never known passion like this.
Caroline Broadhurst is about to take a lover- at her husband's command. For fifteen years, Caroline has done everything her much older husband has desired-except provide an heir. Now he has given her an ultimatum: seduce a suitable gentleman and bear a son. Caroline would never think of bowing to such a shameful order, but then she meets Jack Applegate.
Jack has longed for the beautiful, untouchable Caroline for years, but the chasm between them was too wide to ever dream of crossing. Now, fate and passion have thrown them together, but the potential scandal threatens to smother their love. And when a violent secret comes to light, only a terrible sacrifice will prevent the flame of their affection from being snuffed out forever . . .