Title: Seduction and Scandal (The Brethren Guardians #1)

Author: Charlotte Featherstone

Redonk Nutshell: Heroine is inexplicably drawn to dark hero with ties to supernatural relics

Official Synopsis: With the scandalous nature of her birth to live down, Isabella Fairmont dreams of a proper marriage—even if a passionless one. She saves her deepest desires for the novel she dares to pen, wherein a handsome lord with dark powers seduces her. But then her courtship with an appropriate suitor is threatened by the sudden attentions of the reclusive Earl of Black…whose pale blue eyes and brooding sensuality are exactly as she described in her book. Isabella tries to resist the mysterious Earl of Black. Yet as he pursues her, with inexplicable knowledge of her past and kisses that consume her, Isabella fears she will succumb. If only the earl could tell Isabella the truth. With very real, and treacherous, thieves endangering her life, Black will need to protect Isabella from the very people she trusts the most…

I received a preview of this book through Net Galley, and I was curious to see how it panned out.  I had read and reviewed Featherstone’s Lust a few weeks back, and it kind of fell flat for me though I was still intrigued by this author because people rave about her.  So…I was looking forward to seeing how Seduction and Scandal played.

Isabella is a woman looking to escape her past, or rather her mother’s past.  Her mother was indiscreet with her, er, liaisons, and tarnished the family’s reputation.  Bella is taken in by her uncle after her family’s death, and she is relaunched into London society.  Bella is a beautiful dreamer, a woman who hopes to write novels about passion and romance while restricting herself to security and stability in real life.  Her worst fear is to become like her mother and succumb to temptation.

The Earl of Black is incredibly taken with Isabella and wants nothing more then to make her his wife.  The problem, though, is that Black comes with a ton of baggage, baggage that involves scandal, rumor, and a secret society involved in protecting the fate of human kind from dangerous religious relics.

My first impression of Seduction and Scandal is reminiscent of Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula from the 90’s (a favorite of mine, by the way).   Victorian Gothic:  dark, brooding, sensual, and mysterious.  It’s lovely.  I’m a fan of Gothic fiction, so I enjoyed the alluring and dangerous aura to Featherstone’s tale.  The attraction between Isabella and Black is pretty intense, and it plays out as such throughout the entire novel.

That said, I was chagrined to find myself feeling flat after finishing this book.  The multiple subplots felt hastily pulled together, and the book itself was inanely predictable.  Our heroine wants to be taken by our hero, but she won’t allow herself. Our hero is obsessed with possessing her, often times interchanging lust with love and vice versa.  The romance aspect of this book is severely lacking for me, instead replaced by lustful desires that center around getting each other into bed.  When we’re not reading about how Black lusts for Isabella, we’re hearing Isabella torment herself over her own lustful and abashed reactions to Black.  It’s the old faithful “I want him but I shouldn’t” cliche.

While Isabella and Black’s story is neatly tied up by the end of the book, we’re left hanging about several other story lines, story lines that will eventually be addressed in upcoming Guardian books.

Overall, I think there is potential in this series as a whole, but the first installment failed to hook me.

Rating: C-

Romance: 2/5  Raunch: 3/5

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