A Season of Seduction
When critiquing a work, being meh is the worst feeling. If a book or a movie is bad, there is plenty to say. The same thing applies when it is wonderful. But when it is neither, it gets hard. What do you say? It was adequately plotted? The characters were pleasant?
A Season of Seduction by Jennifer Haymore falls into this category. Some parts of the novel were good, others bad, but overall, it just was. A romance novel set in 1827, the story follows Lady Rebecca Fisk, a young widow with a dark history, as she falls in and out of love with Jack Fulton, sailor rogue extraordinaire who also has a dark history. The novel opens with the two of them getting caught in bed together by her family, which is used to set up an entirely plausible plot. Events happen around Christmas, thus the name.
The characters are well-drawn and yes, pleasant. Lady Rebecca, or Becky as she’s known, is a level-headed, smart, interesting young woman with an entirely reasonable fear of commitment. I can honestly say she’s a good character, maybe one of the best female characters I’ve read in a while. She does some rash things, but for logical reasons. Jack Fulton, on the other hand, veers towards idealized character a bit too much. He’s a rough and tumble sailor, who knows how to keep house, is a generous lover and manages to save her on a few occasions. He is very close to being as real a person as Becky, which makes him a bit of a letdown. Did I mention Becky shoots him? And he admits he deserved it? Situations like that highlight the differences between the two of them. However, the other characters, and there are a lot of them, are not shown in particularly sharp focus, but they are not objectionable either. Just pleasant.
In the past, I’ve been guilty of pre-judging romance novels as less than novels, and not worth reading. But recently, I’ve realized that is unfair. Like any genre, there are standouts and disappointments. What strikes me is the feeling that, authors of romance novels seem to be reaching only for what’s good enough. Jennifer Haymore has flashes of brilliance and obvious talent, but she stopped at pleasant. I hope she reaches for more than A Season of Seduction. She can do it easily.