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This e-novella is the prequel to Emma Locke's The Art of Ruining a Rake, and chronicles Lucy's planned seduction of Roman Alexander. Lucy has loved Roman from childhood, and, on the cusp of her spinsterhood, she has decided to take matters into her own hands and has planned for her one glorious night with the man of her dreams. Many would use this to lure men to marriage, but there's something different with Lucy's plan -- she plans to leave and begin her new life as headmistress of her own school. All she wants is the memory of Roman and the experience of Roman -- and nothing more.
"The trouble is, I'm in love with a man who would make a terrible husband, and yet I don't want to marry anyone else. I will have him once, because I cannot bear not to have him at all." Her voice wavered. "It shall have to be enough for a lifetime."
- Chapter 1
Lucy enlists the help of Celeste Grey, and I loved how Emma Locke timed Lucy's story to connect with Celeste and Trestin's story. When Celeste decides to help Lucy seduce Roman, we wonder what Celeste's motivations are: is it to punish Roman for his interference with her affairs? (There's a hint of Les Liaisons Dangereuses in that.) But unlike the French novel, Lucy is nobody's pawn -- she is her own person and acts according to her own will.
I did love the insight that Celeste brings -- how the act of seduction is a slow and gradual process -- how it has nothing to do with beauty, and a lot to do with attraction. I love that there wasn't any need to transform or improve Lucy's outward appearance (the Cinderella effect), but all that was needed was to change how she thought about herself.
Emma Locke uses the word "game" in the title, but there is also a very emotional (very heartbreaking) element in this e-novella -- and it's from the most unlikely person: Roman Alexander. Roman is transparent, yet impenetrable -- and this e-novella reveals what it is that our beautiful, broken angel of a hero wants most: to be loved. It's a bittersweet tragedy to be loved by all and, yet, not be loved at all. Roman is popular and well-liked -- but he yearns for that one authentic connection. How he breaks my heart when he bares himself to Lucy.
..."Tell me who it is who's captured your heart."
Misery flashed across his handsome face so quickly, she almost didn't see it. Then he was sporting his rakish smile again. "Must I pick just one?"
His eyes dimmed, a frown wrinkled his brow, and inside, Lucy died. He didn't fancy all the women in the world. Just one of them.
Someone who didn't return his affection.
"But does she know how you feel?"
He turned away and stared out over the dancers. "That I admire her? That she is part of my soul? My best friend, my right arm, the pillow on which I sleep at night? Life without her is gray and misery. Yes, Lucy-love, she knows."
- Chapter 7
On the technical side, Emma Locke really maximises the full power of Poe's single effect -- at the end of the novella, you are rooting for this couple. You want them to work out their personal issues, and work through the complications of their relationship, and get together. This book will leave you on a heart-wrenching cliffhanger -- but, thank goodness, the completion of this story is just a click away. ^_^
A Game of Persuasion is Book 2.5 of Emma Locke's Naughty Girls series. To find out more about Emma Locke and her books, click below: