Strip the Willow and Rip the Bodice

Because everyone needs a hobby …

One Woman to Rule Them All June 22, 2010

Yes, I realize that yesterday, my title had a typo in it. I fixed it without someone having to tell me – but I’m still, nonetheless, mortified. Just saying.

Anyway, because of the epic-ness that was the first part of the season finale of Doctor Who I’ve decided to double up on posts each day so I give myself some time to re-watch the series in preparation for part two. Yes – it is really that epic. Of course, it could go the way of bombing in part two but I trust Moffat. I like what he’s done so far with the series.

But I’m rambling. Back to The Seduction.

Expect lots of 'Doctor Who' .gifs - here's the Ninth Doctor & Rose

Checking back with my last post, I went through what I ‘definitely’ wanted to talk about with this book. The first being: the male protagonist.

As I mentioned, it’s a different opening. Unlike the other males we’ve encountered before, we actually see Damien’s rakish behaviour first hand – not through rumour. The entire prologue is made up of his jaunt with an actress (who, coincidentally, is the actress that Vanessa’s husband lost his life for in a duel – insert sad face here I guess, but at least it was more plausible than dying over a chess game *coughDuchessbyNightcough*.

Here are the opening lines of the prologue:

“The silken bonds bit into his wrists with exquisite pressure, heightening the sense of pleasure. A willing captive, Damien Sinclair lay defenseless, his bare arms fastened to the bedposts with scarves of scarlet silk.

He couuld see his reflection in the gilt-framed mirror overhead: his naked, muscled body juxtaposed against the snowy sheets; the full, hard length of his arousal jutting from the curling ebony hair of his groin.” p.1

Yeah, needless to say – not what you expect on page one. Or, at least, not what I expected. I grew used to the ‘pretend rake’ or the ‘rake on a break’ – but Damien is one in full force.

So … yay?

The prologue continues in this way a bracelet in involved at some point and there’s a blonde in the mix (the actress), too. The actress is trying to get Damien to take her on as a mistress since he’s currently without one (though, rake that he is, would he really only be satisfied with one woman? (at this moment?)). The scene ends, as I’ve mentioned before: Damien’s sister is in an accident and he lives the actress in bed.

Through the usual turn of events called ‘coincidence’ – Vanessa’s late husband traveled in the same circles as Damien and she gets him to notice her. Why? Because – also by coincidence – Vanessa’s brother lost the family estate to Damien during a game. And, again by coincidence, her brother happens to be the cause of Damien’s sister’s accident.

Vanessa tries to figure out how she can get her family’s estate back and first offers to be a companion to Damien’s now crippled sister. Damien is against that at first, but then agrees under a condition.

I’ll give you a mo’ to guess that condition.

“‘Well, you are in luck, sweeting. You find me in an indulgent mood. But I have in mind a more intimate arrangement than the one you envision. I shall make a bargain with you. I will offer you the position of companion – but not to my sister. To me.’

‘I … don’t understand.’

‘Then I shall put it more plainly. I will cancel your brother’s debt if you become my mistress.'” p.37

No need to raise your hand if you saw it coming – but hey, did you see it coming in Chapter Two? That’s what surprised me. My marginal note reads: what the heck happens in the rest of this book?

In Chapter Three, we even get their first kiss (yes, I pay attention to chapters and page numbers – usually sex happens around the 200 range, the kiss is debatable but Chapter Three is a bit surprising – especially at the pace this particular novel moves at in terms of sexuality) – and it’s incredibly sexually charged, as one expects.

“His thumb stroked her jaw, his touch lingering and provocative. She wanted to move, to flee his disturbing nearness, yet she was held captive by the intensity of his gaze, by the raw, powerful sexuality emanating from him.

His knuckles brushed over her moist, parted lips. A frisson of fiery sensation sparked from his fingers to her skin.

‘Your answer, sweet Vanessa?’ He tilted her face up to his. ‘Will you kiss me?’

His voice stroked her senses like velvet, weakening her defenses. The need to protect herself from this man was strong. And yet … she didn’t want him to stop touching her.

‘Yes …’ she murmured, her voice a whisper of sound.

It was enough. His palm cradled her face gently, with infinite tenderness. Vanessa watched, spellbound, as his ebony lashes lower to shadow his sensual eyes. His breath fanned warm against her lips, before his mouth settled on hers with slow, sure pressure of experience.” p.46

And with that: One Woman to Rule Them All.

Surprised?

“What the devil had he gotten himself into? He hadn’t meant for events to unfold as they had. The last thing he needed just now was a mistress to complicate his life. Certainly not the determined, defensive elder sister of the man he’d sworn to destroy.

He had given the lady every chance to refuse his offer, expecting her back down from his outrageous proposal. Yet he had to confess pleasure at the prospect of her fulfilling the wager. Intense pleasure.

Damien shook his head in bemusement. When was the last time he had felt such anticipation? The last time his pulse race at the mere thought of having a woman a woman in his arms, the way it did for Vanessa Wyndham?” p. 54

From this point on, we get back into the usual territory. Damien’s world becomes Vanessa. He becomes possessive, even dueling over her towards the end of the novel (which she leaves him over but then accepts him back, as we also expect).

I think what I found most interesting about Damien is that we do see him change. We see the other guys change, yeah – but Damien goes from having an actress put her bracelet on his penis (yes, that happens in the prologue) to:

“Eighteen was his own sister’s age, Damnien realized grimly as the girl settled on his lap with a dreamlike smile.

When she parted the diaphanous robe and lifted her peaked nipples to his mouth, his host politely rose. ‘I shall leave you to your pleasures then.’

The beauty rubbed the taut buds teasingly against Damien’s mouth. She tasted sweetly of wine, yet rather than becoming around, he had to steel himself against a strange and sudden aversion.

Instead of showing his distaste, though, or denouncing Clune for being a less than satisfactory host, Damien came to an abrupt decision and lifted the girl in his arms leaving the entertainment behind, he carried her upstairs to his bedchamber.

She was half-asleep even before he laid her on the bed, yet she roused herself to give him a confused look when he covered her near nakedness with a quilt and stepped back …

… ‘Go to sleep, sweetheart,’ Damien murmured, keenly aware of the irony in his action: Lord Sin made an unlikely savior of feminine virtue.” p.203

And of course he proposes marriage to Vanessa – once and she rejects him, twice at the end and she accepts – done deal.

I liked this sort of insight into the male world though. For so many of these novels, free indirect discourse is the most we see of the men’s world. Sure, we get glimpses here and there, but this, I think, is the first that really stood out to me as going: wait, there’s another world out there and let’s just take a jaunt into that for a bit.

As for male protagonists as a whole, I can’t say Damien was my favorite. He was cheesy, used awful pet names, and blah blah – but he did give the men their due, in a way. We got to see a little more of that side through him – even if it involved a very misplaced bracelet.

Told you - whole lotta 'Doctor Who' - this one mixed with a little 'Hitchhicker's'

PALATE CLEASER! CLICK ME!

Reference

Jordan, Nicole. The Seduction. New York: Ballantine Books, 2000.

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