Desire waylays the plans of a man with a mysterious past and a woman with an uncertain future, in Susanna Craig’s unforgettable series set in Georgian England.
After her much older husband dies—leaving her his fortune—Charlotte Blakemore finds herself at the mercy of her stepson, who vows to contest the will and destroy her life. With nowhere to turn and no one to help her, she embarks on an elaborate ruse—only to find herself stranded on the way to London. . .
More than twenty years in the West Indies have hardened Edward Cary, but not enough to abandon a helpless woman at a roadside inn—especially one as disarmingly beautiful as Charlotte. He takes her with him to the Gloucestershire estate he is determined to restore, though he is suspicious of every word that falls from her distractingly lush lips.
As far as Charlotte knows, Edward is nothing more than a steward, and there’s no reason to reveal his noble birth until he can right his father’s wrongs. Acting as husband and wife will keep people in the village from asking questions that neither Charlotte nor Edward are willing to answer. But the game they’re each determined to play has rules that beg to broken, when the passion between them threatens to uncover the truth—for better or worse. . .
Edward Cary ran away from home at the tender age of nine with the idea that if he left then his dear mother would be protected from his abusive father. He set sail and for the next twenty years he circled the globe until finally he returns to the very place he thought never to see again. Only to find that his leaving g didn’t protect his beloved mother. He returns to his run down ancestral home under the alias of a land steward. He doesn’t want to reveal his true identity until he absolutely as to. At a road side inn, Edward comes across beautiful maid Charlotte. Edward has me stumped been one to be able to not come to the aid of a damsel in distress and he is undoubtedly drawn towards this French lady who is far more than she likes to let people believe. But by wanting to know her secrets could very well expose his own hidden past.
Charlotte Blackmore is stuck between a rock and a hard place, her elderly husband has recently died leaving all of his assets to Charlotte, but that is where her trouble starts, her much older step son is enraged that his father could do such a thing to him that his doddery old dad could give his inheritance to a girl and not just a girl but a gold digging foreigner. So he sets about trying g to contest the will. And Charlotte knows that if her step son ever find out about her deepest secret then she could very well be left with nothing, so she does the only thing g she can. She runs.
“I made a terrible mistake once where you were concerned, Charlotte,” he said as she returned to her seat. Her strength and her bravery awed him. “When I met you here, I assumed you needed to be saved. I swooped in, as if you were a damsel in distress and I fancied myself your knight in shining armor.”
Charlotte, trades places with her maid to try to escape from who ever is following her and just by a stroke of good luck she quite literally bumps into the handsome land steward. Who after rescuing her takes her in under his protection. But yet another problem then arises. How do they explain what their relationship is to others? Simple they play the part of newly weds.
I really like To Seduce a Stranger, the plot is one that has been done many times before, but this is classy! Susanna has taken a well used plot and made it into a new and loving tale of Romance and intrigue. The relationship between Edward and Charlotte sizzles right from their first meeting, he knows that she is hiding something but yet he is drawn to her exotic looks and mysterious air, she is so unlike any other woman that he has met before and as much as he tries to keep his distance, to protect himself, her gaelic charm soon wears him down.
Edward is as reluctant as they come to announce who he is, he is more than happy to go on as he is but he knows that now he is back on English soil he will eventually have to face his demons. Edward is a great character, you know deep down that he is a bit of a recluse but he has that old aristocratic duty running through his veins and he isn’t one to let is responsibilities lapse. He is fiercely protective of those he loves, he is a good, kind and undeniably a hard-working man who on seeing injustice goes above and beyond to correct it.There is some really loving and touching moments between him and Charlotte, I especially like when they paddle in the stream and he tells her to keep still so the minors can nibble her toes – you have to read it!
“And was she . . . amused?”
Charlotte managed a weak smile. “Not enough.”
He wished, suddenly, for some bit of magic that would wash the hurt of a joyless childhood from her eyes.
“If you stand perfectly still, the minnows will nibble at your toes.”
She shot him one wide-eyed glance before inching her dripping skirts high enough that she could see her feet.
“Really? Oh, there’s one. And—oh— another, and . . . Oh!” Her chin lifted as she looked back at him. “It tickles.”
He nodded encouragingly and watched as she wiggled her toes experimentally, trying to coax the tiny fish.
Charlotte is equally fascinating, even though I feel very sorry for her, she is pushed into a marriage with a man old enough to be her grandfather; but who turned out to be a genuinely decent man. Within weeks she is a young widow, threatened by her stepson over her inheritance. She is a sad, lonely young woman who, being half French and not entirely trusted she hasn’t any friends to turn to in her moment of need. Meeting Edward she has finally found the opportunity to be herself – even if she is lying about her identity. She is actually really good for Edward she brings him out of himself and makes him view life without his cynical tinted glasses on, and vise-versa.
They are an adorable couple, at first living under an illusion and then that illusion turns into something else. I love how Edward gets very angry when people shorten their names, how he insists that they use the name they were given, it might seem a bit random, but you have to read it to understand where I am coming from.
To Seduce A Stranger is a delightful read, it is a thoroughly enjoyable story of love, secrets and lies. Characters that are entertaining and highly likable – not to mention devilishly handsome! But apart from that this is a solid Historical Romance, Craig is a confident writer in field, her love for the genre just shines through and she is an author that I am looking forward to reading more of.
This was a complementary copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.