Title: Proof by Seduction
Author: Courtney Milan
Series: Carhart Series 2
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: 1 January 2010
Jenny Keeble, better known for the last 12 years as Madame Esmeralda, has never been one to let life get her down. Ruined, with no references to her name, and no desire to work in a (quite literal) dead-end position, she takes the one option she sees - become a Gypsy fortune teller. Here she meets Ned Carhart, and two years past she gave him hope, brought him back from the brink of self-destruction. And she continues to see him regularly.
But on their scheduled evening to meet, Ned doesn't come alone. He brings his cousin, Gareth, the Marquess of Blakely, with him. Gareth has just learned of the fortune teller that has Ned in her clutches and means to remove the spell she has over him. His scientific mind relies on facts - not the whimsy of a fortune teller.
Meeting in Madame Esmeralda's smoky, atmospheric room, Jenny realizes she may have met her match in Lord Blakely. Meanwhile, their verbal chess has increased Gareth's interest in Jenny - until they suddenly find themselves in the middle of an 'agreement.'
Gareth proposes that Jenny should predict something, with tangible constraints, that will then be tested with scientific resolve to get the proof they desire. Not willing to be swept aside so easily, Jenny decides to predict Gareth's meeting the woman he will marry at a very specific time. But that he will only win her if he completes prescribed tasks of her devising.
Jenny interrupts every facet of Gareth's plan. He, in turn, can't decide whether to ruin her or seduce her. A passionate battle of wits and wills ensues, and Jenny and Gareth must make the ultimate choice. What the know, and the possibilities of an unending love.
Proof by Seduction was the first book I read by Courtney Milan. It won't be the last.
Jenny was an absolute delight to read. I loved her attitude towards like, and it was one I could easily relate to. No matter her past, history, or current circumstances she had a very strong belief of who she was, and what her limits were. There was room for play, but she wasn't going to let herself be treated as less than she deserved. Add to that the undeniable hope that she just flowed out of her, even affecting other people, and I was really wanting her to get her HEA.
Gareth is almost the exact opposite of Jenny. Whereas she didn't allow her past to close her off, he became a solid wall for anything that didn't fit within his realm of ideals to crash up against. He couldn't show emotion, didn't know how to be close to those he cared about, and had little ability, or desire, for anything other than taking the weight of the world - especially those he considered his - on his shoulders. This is definitely a sound trait, but not when it comes at the cost of his relationships with those people.
I loved watching Jenny disrupt Gareth's thoughts and making him remove the mask that he had put on for the world. They went quickly from fighting with each other to passion, but rather than seeing this as too abrupt, I could easily see why Gareth was attracted to Jenny, and could see how Jenny could see something more in Gareth. They were perfectly matched, from wits to passion and everything in between.
There is a sidestory here about Ned that is not to be overlooked. There were scenes with Ned and Gareth, or Jenny (or both) that made me tear up and really feel what he was going through. Luckily I don't have to wait long to see what happens as Trial by Desire is already out and that's Ned's story.
Proof by Seduction is a good entry into the historical romance genre, and I greatly look forward to seeing what Ms. Milan comes up with next!
Book Link | Amazon | Kindle | nook | kobo | Borders eBook | Sony | Book Depository | HQN