Author: Virginia Henley
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: January 1, 1994
Publisher: Island Books
Shorn of her glorious raven tresses and dressed as a man, Lady Antonia Lamb became Lord Anthony Lamb, desperate to keep the property entailed to her twin brother, who is missing at sea. Trapped—and liberated—by her masquerade, Tony meets her new guardian, the devastatingly dangerous Adam Savage, who has returned from his plantation in Ceylon, determined to turn the innocent "boy" into a worldly man.
Little did Lady Antonia Lamb know that the sailing trip with her twin brother Anthony would turn out in an attempted murder and her brother's disappearance. To prevent their estate falling into the greedy, unscrupulous hands of their cousin Bernard, she decides to impersonate her brother.
At the same time, the twins' legal guardian – so named by their father, Adam Savage, leaves his plantation in Ceylon for England, to set up a home there, take care of his wards, and plan his marriage to Antonia and Anthony's mother.
Taking "Tony" under his proverbial wing, Adam vows to turn the boy into a man, never guessing his ward's secret, while Antonia, despite feeling liberated by her disguise, can't help the growing attraction she feels for the rake with a "scarred face and ice-blue eyes".
Seduced is a great book, though the length is tedious at times. Maybe it could've been shorter than its 532 pages, but cutting pages would probably have resulted in severe cost in characterization and that most important interaction between characters.
As Antonia's feelings for Adam develop through the book, so does the reader's perception of him, and the two of them. It is a slow development, but that's what gives it that extra semblance of reality.
Obviously the one thing suffering mostly by the book's length and character definition and interaction was the plot. After a great start, the pace slowed and picked up again only for the great final showdown.
Seduced is a great mixture of intrigue and romance, exotic settings like Ceylon and Venice during il Carnevale, sensuality, and that special drop of mystery that comes with a he-is-really-a-she twist. And it is all bound together by Ms. Henley's ability to take history and fiction and blend it all together into an excellent novel.
The two leads are your typical HR hero and heroine, but Ms. Henley succeeded in gifting them with that much-needed, and often neglected, life-likeness. Despite their obvious "perfection", they're still humans, they feel joy and pain, suffering and elation. Their interaction from the beginning of the book could be classified as foreplay. One heck of a long foreplay, that makes the final act of surrender so much stronger and scorching.
There is no doubt in the reader's mind that the author loved these two together, that they are meant for each other, and the reader can enjoy their connection and their love fully before the book ends, which is not standard HR template.