The first irresistible installment in New York Times bestselling author Jennifer McQuiston's Seduction Diaries series proves that some secrets are too delicious to hide.
Pretty and popular, Miss Clare Westmore knows exactly what (or rather, who) she wants: the next Duke of Harrington. But when she twists her ankle on the eve of the Season’s most touted event, Clare is left standing in the wallflower line watching her best friend dance away with her duke.
Dr. Daniel Merial is tempted to deliver more than a diagnosis to London's most unlikely wallflower, but he doesn’t have time for distractions, even one so delectable. Besides, she's clearly got her sights on more promising prey. So why can’t he stop thinking about her?
All Clare wants to do is return to the dance floor. But as her former friends try to knock her permanently out of place, she realizes with horror she is falling for her doctor instead of her duke. When her ankle finally heals and she faces her old life again, will she throw herself back into the game?
Or will her time in the wallflower line have given her a glimpse of who she was really meant to be?
The solid first installment of the Seduction Diaries Regency series introduces strong characters but sometimes struggles to maintain momentum. Clare Westmore is the darling of the debutantes: properly coiffed, surreptitiously bookish, and all but certain to marry well. When a sprained ankle renders Clare homebound, she's frustrated at missing the all-important social engagements intended to secure her future. Bored, she spends her time sparring with Dr. Daniel Merial, her handsome and brilliant physician, who is well below her socially. Problems begin to brew as Daniel and Clare reluctantly yield to their mutual attraction. Clare's carefully scripted brainless, snobby persona begins to crack when her so-called friends begin scheming, family dysfunction is revealed, and "life-altering secrets" become society gossip. As events unfold, Clare discovers that her feelings about love, marriage, and class have changed, completing a coming-of-age transformation. McQuiston capably provides surprises to make sense of the family disorder, but the novel begins to stall with the couple's denials and indecisiveness.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Excellent from start to finish!
Loaded with twists, tension and characters that grow on you as solidly as they evolve into a couple,
A new series from my favorite Historical romance author, Jennifer McQuiston: if you haven’t read her books, she is certainly one to watch! I’ve read them all, and they just keep getting better and better. Loaded with twists, tension and characters that grow on you as solidly as they evolve into a couple, this mid-Victorian era story is full of moments to love.
Clare is the eldest child of a viscount, and in her second season. She was a bit of a conundrum: desperate to make her mark on society, she has carefully cultivated the “right” girls as friends, and has her eyes set on the heir to a dukedom. At home, however, her life is far from the more familiar and traditional titled family: her parents are actively avoiding one another, her younger sister is a year from her debut in society and is more tomboy than polish, and her youngest brother was just expelled from Eton with a penchant for saying outrageous things. Some of the best (and funniest) moments are in the interactions between Clare, Lucy and Geoffrey: the younger siblings providing Clare with a never-ending source of worry, even as she does take some delight in their curiosity and growth.
Daniel is a physician, dedicated to his practice and patients, with a favored dowager countess as a patron. He’s not particularly interested in society beyond the acquisition of clients, and is immersed in creating an anesthesia machine. His professional demeanor is solid, but it is the breaks in that masque, especially in his dealings with the Dowager Lady Austerley show the honest desire to be the best he can for those he cares for. I loved his wit and humor, his obvious dedication to his experiments and desire to improve the lot of all who need care, as well as the obvious enjoyment he took in tweaking Clare, seeing the hidden depths that she hides carefully when in society.
McQuiston has taken the ‘imbalance of position’ in society and turned it on its ear: usually the titled man with the working class woman, Daniel really doesn’t fit in Clare’s world, not as it is or as she dreams of it being. But he is everything she needs: kind, appreciative, accepting of her family and, most importantly, willing to consider her ideas and thoughts as valid. While Clare starts as a bit of a snob, the quick comeuppance/betrayal by her ‘ball friend’ Sophie that relegated her to wallflower row gave her a taste of some hard truths and introduced her to Daniel: the far better prize. And this is where Clare’s carefully contrived façade as prim, proper and rather addlepated eligible female in the eyes of society start to fall apart. Clare is clever, engaged and curious about everything that makes the world work: familiar with the changing political climate in England with the chartist movement, and determined to make the best choices for a match for herself, and to ensure her sister Lucy’s prospects.
Enough questions and circles as these two overcome their own preconceptions and learn that their connection is one that is rare, and far superior to the choices that were heretofore possible if one considered just their positions in society. With a deft hand and characters that are wonderfully complex, flaws and all, McQuiston managed to add more twists, turns and revelations into Clare’s life, helping her to make choices that truly secure her happiness. Inclusions of science as we follow Daniel’s progress in crafting a safer anesthetic delivery system for operating, and his dangerous if determined path as he is the only human trial, added a level of historical accuracy that I can only guess was based on Snow’s work of the time. So much to love about this first in the series: I can’t wait for the next book!
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.