Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Seducer, by Madeline Hunter [2]

**/***** (2/5)

THE SEDUCER is an out-and-out Heroine-Saving-the-Hero's-Soul routine, and I just don't enjoy those... even if it is written by my favorite author in this genre. Despite having just read Chadwick's LORDS OF THE WHITE CASTLE which had me screaming to its hero to let go of his rivalry, I wasn't convinced THE SEDUCER's hero Daniel letting go of his plot for revenge was entirely appropriate. I felt that Daniel St. John was way too pining, too unmanned by the end, and that's not something I'm used to from Hunter's heroes. The ultimatum our heroine Diane lays down to coerce Daniel into abandoning his plot for revenge as a price for her love came off avariciously, especially considering everything he's just shared about all the people that died -- including his mother -- mainly because of the villain.

THE SEDUCER goes to extraordinary lengths trying to paint Daniel St. John in a very evil, dark light. In the beginning, he's referred to as the Devil Man. I didn't really see it. Definitely, there are things Daniel does to ruin the men indirectly responsible for killing many people including his parents, and crippling his sister. The book and his sister Jeanette would have us believe the things he does to ruin the men eats away at Daniel's soul. Huh? It's not like Daniel killed anyone, he just ruined them -- and deservedly so! I didn't buy the Bad-Boy act, he's not really all that bad. Hypocritically, the qualities that make him dark, mysterious and attractive to our heroine in the beginning - his cold demeanor, eyes of fire, etc. -- are the very qualities which imbue him with a single-minded, soul-eating purpose for revenge. So the book's crux aims to erase the very qualities in Daniel which attract our heroine to him in the first place, mainly because those qualities supposedly strip him of his soul.

The ending transforms Daniel into a love-sick lapdop. Daniel chooses love and agrees to abandon a revenge plot which spins of its own accord at that point. Melodramatic nonsense I tell'ya! And not fun to read at all. After Daniel chooses our heroine, the book notes how he can't fight with swords anymore, how during the climactic duel with the villain his pistol wavers and cannot come to kill the man he's pursued all these years. During the climactic duel, Daniel resorts himself to death and he cannot call forth the cold hatred for the villain anymore. So basically, he's completely unmanned. Is this supposed to be romantic? Emasculating a hero so he cannot do what needs to be done during the critical moment? I mean Daniel already loves Diane beyond measure, why not just allow the hero to call forth that fury and hatred for the critical moment, the fury which gives him his strength? Not to be. I wonder why Jeanette didn't go to the first arranged duel which Daniel retreats from. All the characters arrive at the final, climactic duel to cheer on the hero who cannot shoot his pistol because he's floating on clouds for love of his heroine. The end inundates its readers with Daniel's love-sick, pining introspection.

Looking ahead for a future with love is all well and good, but there's also merit in repaying debts and addressing the past which always tends to catch up on you. Despite all the pining introspection Daniel spews at the end, I felt even if the villain Tyndale had let Daniel be after Daniel chooses love, the past would still hang over him like a dark cloud in some way. I don't think it's possible to purge a past such as Daniel's 100% as many saving-the-hero's-soul-from-revenge stories would have us believe. If for nothing else, wouldn't it be justified to bring down a villain with an unhealthy appetite to seduce and ruin virgins? Surely the heroine can't object to that! But alas, she does here...

Longer than most Hunter novels by sheer page count, this 419-page paperback spends an inordinate amount of time setting up characters for future books. Of those that we're introduced to, only Adrian seemed interesting. Dante is one character I don't want to read about, wonder if his book is any good.

The beginning was good, the humorous exchange between Diane & Daniel at Diane's school hooked me right away. The middle parts of the novel weren't bad, albeit much slower as we're slowly introduced to other characters and the main plot. The ending -- well didn't care for it much at all.

I'm reminded of other romances with heroines saving heroes from revenge plots and this book is better than Medeiros' THE BRIDE AND THE BEAST (*), but not as enjoyable as Foley's DEVIL TAKES A BRIDE (***).

The Story.

Thirty-two year-old tall, dark and "incredibly handsome" Daniel St. John is a shipper, a man of his own fortune bent on a plot for revenge. Although the majority of the book keeps its readers in the dark about the details of Daniel's multi-layered and mysterious past, it's clear he nourishes single-minded purpose for revenge from the onset. His sister Jeanette's crippled and untenable condition only confirm our suspicions regarding Daniel's goals and intentions.

"Lovely", dark-eyed twenty year-old Diane Albret seeks answers about who she is and where she came from. All she knows is that the Devil Man -- Daniel -- takes care of her finances so she may continue at the school in Rouen. She's plagued by fractured, splintered memories of a past which grows blurry.

For as clever and resourceful as Daniel is made out to be, I don't understand his plot to eliminate his ultimate nemesis and villain, famed gunshot Andrew Tyndale, a marquess' younger brother. Daniel's scheme is quite laughable actually. Idiotically, Daniel plans on using Diane's virginity as a means to lure Tyndale and then call out Tyndale in a duel. So you plan on placing an innocent girl in danger so you can honorably try to kill the best pistol around? Daniel claims he won't allow any harm come to Diane, but that's B.S., you can't control everything. The book painstakingly notes Tyndale's superior pistol abilities compared to Daniel so I was waiting for some contingency plan on Daniel's part when the duel he schemes to concoct actually takes place. Nope, no contingency plan. [laughs] Essentially, the scheme was to lure a superior gunshot like Tyndale into a duel so he can kill you. [more laughs] What am I missing here?

The romance was OK, but tainted by the ultimatum Diane lays down towards the end and Daniel's very emasculated status. For the first time in a Madeline Hunter novel, I actually skipped the love scene at the end following Daniel's capitulation to Diane's demands for being together. Just seemed empty by that point. Daniel squirms, pines and wilts too much at the end, mainly because of a drowning love. He couldn't just do what needed to be done. Diane makes Daniel promise to back down from the first duel. He happily obliges in return for sex. Even after learning how sadistic the villain Tyndale can be and of all the horrible things he's done to Daniel and his family, she makes him abandon his plight for justice as a price to be together. Daniel merrily consents.

There's other connections and characters which makes things vaguely interesting: the scientist Gustave, Diane's father and of course members of the Dueling Society like Adrian and Vergil (Adrian seems the most interesting from members of the club).

Overall, the most tiresome Madeline Hunter novel I've read to date.


Anonymous said...

This series is VERY slow to get cooking. I think Hunter only starts getting into her groove with Book #3 in the series -- which would be Adrian's story (THE CHARMER)

Caine said...

Ah, wonder if I should just skip THE SAINT then, didn't really care for Vergil's character in THE SEDUCER.

In any case, I want to return to her medieval-era books, and LORD OF A THOUSAND NIGHTS and STEALING HEAVEN are next...