The Art of Temptation by Genella de Grey

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After seven failed seasons, Valerie Hempstead decides to take her fate into her own hands, and a tour of the continent is just the thing. Accompanied by a female cousin, and the girl’s childhood companions–all of whom live fast and for the moment, Valerie is about to discover more about life than she anticipated.

Travis Elijah Colin Wade, the son of no one in particular, has just been handed a vast amount of money and a large country estate and, of all things, a bloody title. However, he’s not at all pleased about leaving his care-free bachelor days behind. Determined to spend some of his money and relax before assuming his duties for Queen and country, Travis goes abroad. Little does he know that he is about to be utterly swept away by the seduction of innocent surrender.

Rating: D-

I can’t believe I managed to finish this one. In fact, if it hadn’t been for the fact I was reading it for review, I probably wouldn’t have done.

I’m not going to waste a lot of time writing a full review, so here’s the bare bones.

1. The heroine (Valerie) is a well-brought up young lady living in the 1880s, at a time when women were protected to the point of suffocation by their relatives and chaperones etc.
She has not married after seven seasons and in order to escape her domineering mother, runs away to Paris to stay with a cousin she’s never met, who turns out to be a bit of a good-time girl. From Paris, Valerie, the cousin, cousin’s friend and couple of male hangers-on go to Venice and crash an exclusive party at which Val indulges in some drunken snogging and groping with a hot guy.

2. Back in Paris, cousin’s bitchy friend wants to ditch Val ASAP because, on a visit to the new club, the Moulin Rouge, Val got asked if she’d like to work there and bitch-face didn’t.

3. Cousin and friends bugger off on a trip to Africa, leaving Val’s belongings on the doorstep. Val has no alternative and heads off to the Moulin to begin her career as a burlesque dancer.

4. Because Val is tall, willowy and virginal it’s the posh stuff for her – the ballet. She has never trained, has never been a dancer of any kind and on day 2, she’s dancing on point.
I don’t think so. That takes years of practice.

5. She’s also performing a mini-striptease while dancing and struttin’ her stuff. See #1 to remind yourself who this girl is.

6. Val has the hots for the dishy doc who looks after the girls at the Moulin (and no, I don’t mean he “sees to” them – he is there for medical purposes only!) and is thus blind to the attentions of the hero when he turns up.

7. Dishy doc turns out to be engaged to childhood sweetheart at home. Val is devastated. For about five minutes, after which she realises that our hero was the one after all.

8. As for our hero. He’s 35, and his best friend calls him “Travie” (his name is Travis. Very 19th century England. NOT.)

9. He has inherited an Earldom completely out of the blue and wants nothing to do with it. He also seems to be living in fear of what services “Queen Vickie” (I kid you not – she is referred to as such) will require of him.
10. Like any brave, macho guy of 35, he runs away to Europe, gropes some girl wearing a kitty mask in Italy (and I suppose here I should at least applaud the author for keeping the number of “pussy” jokes to a minimum) and then mopes about a bit when he can’t find her the next day.

11. Turns up in Paris and quickly becomes besties with the dishy doc and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec.

12. Sees Val on stage displaying her charms and immediately gets the hots for her. But *sadface* she only has eyes for the dishy doc.

13. But he’s in wuuuuve… and can’t imagine life without her at his side as his Countess.

Give me strength.

That’s enough. There was a twirly-moustachioed villain who did many villainy things apart from say “Muahahahahah!” whenever he turned up; lots of bitch-slapping at the Moulin Rouge, something about an auction for Val’s cherry and a plot to extort money from Val’s mum who has been searching for her.

There were loads of typos. Because you only get the best from me, here are two doozies.

The earl has a “MANNER house.”

Val comes from “Great BRITON.”

But wait. This book is generous because it gives you TWO for the price of ONE! Not only are there mistakes in the English, there are mistakes in the French as well! How generous.

My favourites. Trashy cousin (female) frequently calls Val “mon cher”. Val is a girl so it’s “ma chérie”.

The question “is it not?” in French = n’est-ce pas? NOT nes pa?

Oh, and usually, Mama is written – MAMA, and NOT M’ma.

The dialogue is a weird mixture of anachronisms and faux-19th century British; there is no depth to the characterisation, no relationship development and that, even if I were able to get past the utter implausibility of the set-up would be damning enough in itself. But added to the rest…

So there you go guys. Mission accomplished. I took one for the team and read this crap so YOU don’t have to.

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