Seven Secrets of Seduction
By Anne Mallory
Release Date: May 25, 2010
This is the word that kept going through my mind while reading Anne Mallory’s latest masterpiece and also long after I closed the last page. This book, which is now my favorite of 2010, is so brilliantly written that I hope I can do it justice in my review.
Shopgirl Miranda Chase is absorbed in the latest Gothic novel while covering for a sick coworker when a handsome stranger enters her uncle’s bookstore. The usually steadfast Miranda is immediately thrown off balance as they exchange quips filled with innuendo pertaining to the newest book that is all the rage in London, The Seven Secrets of Seduction by the author Eleutherios. He believes the book is silly and about nothing but sex, while she thinks it’s lovely and shows that beauty can be found even in the most ordinary things.
“You think a book on seduction is lovely?”
“It is a lovely, burgeoning tome that when dissected contains a wealth of personal realization and self-enlightenment.” The words, nearly rehearsed at this point from the number of times she had found herself defending them to crotchety men and scandalized matrons, fell from her lips.
The strange smile he had first sported reappeared, as if he found her odd and vastly entertaining. “‘A burgeoning tome?’ Is that a kind way to say bloated?”
“Not bloated.” Her hip bumped the counter, as her body tried to express its agitation without her consent. “It burgeons.”
“I didn’t realize that burgeoning was something a book did. Do kittens pop from its covers when it gets too full?” He looked at the stand as if a full-grown cat might spring from the pages and catch him unawares.
She drummed her fingers on the freshly printed Gothic. “You are not amusing.”
“I daresay you are though.”
The infuriating, yet captivating stranger returns the next day to pick up his order of books. It isn’t until after their second tête-à-tête that Miranda’s friend Georgette tells her that the man is none other than the notorious Maximilian Landry, Viscount Downing, the same man whom they read about daily in the Society pages. Later, she realizes he “accidentally” took the wrong parcel when her uncle instructs her to go to the viscount’s home the next day to exchange the packages. When she arrives, Downing asks her to organize and catalog his library and says he will pay her well to do it. Because he flusters her, Miranda tries to refuse, only to have him explain that he has already secured her uncle’s permission. The next day, while at her new “job”, Downing issues Miranda a challenge—she can use The Seven Secrets of Seduction to try to show him all of the strange and wonderful things in a new light, while he will use it to seduce her. He offers her a prize that is too good to pass up, so which of them will win?
Seven Secrets of Seduction is a phenomenal book. I was riveted from page one and didn’t want to put it down. Ms. Mallory has created a sensual tale in which each encounter between Max and Miranda sizzled with sexual tension, not just the love scenes. These two had perfect chemistry. Miranda is a smart, practical girl with no lofty aspirations, though she does have dreams of visiting the Continent, especially Paris, one day. Both she and Max are clever and very perceptive which only intensifies their game of “cat and mouse”. The first part of the book is told almost exclusively in Miranda’s point of view, so Max is sort of a mystery to her and the reader. And with good reason. Then Ms. Mallory slowly peels away the layers and we learn more about the elusive man. He’s cunning, confident, and always follows through.
She didn’t dare breathe because of the short distance between them. “I think you are a tease, my lord.”
“No, a tease is someone who only promises without following through.” His fingers interlocked, and one thumb slowly traced a pattern around the edges of the other. “I guarantee you that I am a man who follows through.”
There is a reason he wants Miranda and I thoroughly enjoyed watching it all unfold at just the right pace. One of the things I love about Anne Mallory’s books is that she treats her readers as intelligent individuals. She doesn’t spell out everything—she allows the reader to discover things themselves and I found myself savoring this story so I could catch every little clue.
If you’re looking for an extremely well-written historical filled with surprising plot twists and characters who avoid clichéd actions, don’t miss this gem. My copy has permanent residence on my keeper shelves, along with Anne Mallory’s other books. I highly recommend Seven Secrets of Seduction!