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What stands out in Anna Campbell's The Seduction of Lord Stone are the very unique personalities of the three ladies, who are the heroines of her Dashing Widows series: Fen seems to be the calm, observant one. Helena's the intellectual, and Caroline is the passionate, emotional one, and the heroine of this novella. But the years of marriage to Freddie, Lord Beaumont, has dampened the fires within Caroline, and she's struggling to shed off the last remnants of her indifferent, and impersonal marriage.
"So did you love Frederick Beaumont?" Helena persisted.
Poor Freddie, saddled with a weak constitution and an unlving helpmeet. Hatred would have been a greater tribute than his wife's indifference. How sad for a decent, if tedious man to die so young. Sadder that nobody in particular cared that he'd gone.
"No," she said hollowly, at last voicing the shameful truth. "Although he was a good man and he deserved better from me than he got."
Freddie should have married a stolid farmer's wife, not a restless, curious, volatile creature who dreamed of the social whirl instead of milk yields and barley prices. ...
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Caroline now plans on pursuing an affair, and she has chosen Lord West as her potential lover. She recruits Helena's brother, Silas Nash, Lord Stone, to help her -- not thinking that Silas is in love with her and had planned to pursue her once she was out of mourning. This isn't the first time a lady has overlooked the better man, but this certainly is an exciting instance of it. Silas Nash is a wonderful friend to Caroline, and seems to be a caring brother to Helena. He's been respectful in keeping his distance from Caroline, but now, it seems, that he is danger of losing her. The main problem being, Caroline doesn't want anything permanent -- she's been married, and widowed, and doesn't see herself going down the same path again, and Silas wants Caroline for his wife.
..."I don't want another husband."
He frowned. "Of course you do."
"Of course I don't." She tilted her chin and took advantage of the small island of privacy surrounding them to confide her wicked intentions. "I am, however, in the market for a lover."
As she'd expected, her pronouncement didn't shock Silas. His tolerant attitude was among the many things she liked about him. He regarded her thoughtfully. "Is that an invitation, Caro?"
She stared into his unwavering hazel eyes. Around her, the crowded ballroom receded strangely until she and Silas seemed alone together.
Caroline hadn't blushed since before she'd married Freddie. But something in Silas's expression brought color to her cheeks and a disconcerting stumble to her heart. ...
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The thrill for me is reading the moment when the light switch is flipped on, and the oblivious party realizes that what he/she has been looking for has been in front of him/her all that time. Beyond the falling in love (which happens), Caroline needs to overcome her fear of marriage again -- and Silas needs to prove to her that he's a different man than her late husband. It does follow a bit of a predictable trajectory, but I really enjoyed seeing the dynamic between the three friends. Plus, Anna Campbell teases us with the pairings for the next instalment in the series.
Overall, this was a quick read, but thoroughly enjoyable.
The Seduction of Lord Stone is an e-novella that introduces Anna Campbell's Dashing Widows series. To find out more about Anna Campbell and her books, click below: