Dark Seduction by Brenda Joyce

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I absolutely love Brenda Joyce. Some of the first romance novels that I ever read were hers and I’ve always considered her one of my top five favorite authors. I’ve never liked her contemporaries, though, and when I heard that Ms. Joyce had decided to take her turn writing paranormals, I was rather worried that they would be just as bad. I really wish it wasn’t true, but Dark Seduction is, if possible, even worse than her contemporaries. Before you read further, however, you should be warned that I have not finished Dark Seduction, not even close. And I probably never will. I disliked it that much. I’m still a fan of Ms. Joyce, but I won’t be spending any more money on her paranormals and I hope she seriously reconsiders writing anymore in this series.

Not long after Dark Seduction begins, we quickly learn that Claire, our heroine, was traumatized by her mother’s murder when she was ten years old. She later found out that her mother was actually a victim of a pleasure crime. Years after that, her cousin, while at college, was murdered the same way, another victim of a pleasure crime. Apparently victims of pleasure crimes have very, uh, pleasurable sex before their hearts stop beating, from exhaustion maybe, and they die. Of course a woman with no marks on her, no drugs, no forcible rape and no signs of a struggle must have been murdered, right? And of course when Claire finds out her hero has sexed someone to death, she’s quick to suggest that it was a weak heart or an accident. The entire pleasure crime murder thing read like a BAD idea, as if Ms. Joyce really really wanted the supernatural aspect of her book to center around sex and the fear of our two main characters having sex, and nothing else, not logic, not common sense, not even her editor, was going to stop her. The other result of this bad idea? It made the heroine, apparently a very intelligent and well read bookseller, come across as really stupid.

Claire was definitely far too annoying and too stupid to live for my tastes. She spends most of her life living in fear of being the victim of a pleasure crime just like her mom and cousin. She does what she can to prevent that from ever happening: runs, lifts weights, learns self defense, target shoots with her beretta, keeps mace AND pepperspray AND a taser handy in case the gun isn’t enough. Despite all this preparation, the moment a threatening person, a woman named Sibylla, breaks into her store late at night, she allows Sibylla to take the gun right out of her hand and knock her unconscious. When Claire wakes, she hears a man in her house, but allows him to sneak up on her as well. And despite her fear of being murdered, inspite of her fear of being a victim, she has sex with our too stupid to live, controlling, annoying hero within twenty PAGES of meeting him. She’s pressed up against him, he’s obviously aroused, and it’s all she can do not to rip his clothes off. But she’s smarter than that, she wouldn’t allow herself to lose control with a strange psychotic man, right? Of course, she wouldn’t. Instead, she waits an entire page or two until he forces her painfully back in to time with him before going at it like there’s no tomorrow.

And what about Malcolm? Could there be a more stereotypical Scottish warrior hero man? Could he be more condescending, controlling, patronizing or sexist? And how many times did Malcolm need to say “Ye” or “Ye be?” What woman wouldn’t fall for (20 pages after meeting): “I be wantin’ ye, lass”? I was tired of him after about five pages.

Malcolm walks into Claire’s life looking for the Page, which he believes she has in her possession. He definitely recognizes her, but is impatient when she doesn’t seem to believe him or understand what he’s talking about. Either he knew who she was and knew that she would’t know him at that point in time or he doesn’t know her, but it just felt like Ms. Joyce hadn’t clearly thought out the timeline. Malcom is the arrogant type, he knows what’s best for Claire- taking her back in time and not returning her despite her desperate pleas and then demands to go home – because of course taking her back in time is more logical than hiding her or keeping her safe in her own time. Again it just seemed like a BAD idea, a too easy solution, to write something Ms. Joyce appeared determined to write about- a historical.

Unfortunately, Dark Seduction was just disappointment after disappointment. Both characters were so annoying that I quickly reached the point where I couldn’t read any more about them. I tried briefly skimming the rest of the book, but it never got any better. None of the usual romantic and sexual build up and tension, usually so well written in Ms. Joyce’s other novels, was present here. It was just forced idea after forced idea and none of it seemed well thought out. I just hope Ms. Joyce reconsiders writing paranormal romances and returns to the historicals that she does so well.

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~ by loonigrrl on April 21, 2007.

One Response to “Dark Seduction by Brenda Joyce”

  1. I didn’t even realize she’d gone over to paranormals — I’m surprised that with a name as big as Joyce, I haven’t heard more buzz. It sounds like it would hit a lot of my hot buttons, too, but I’m really curious about the setup and I think I’m going to try to pick it up … where, alas, it will likely languish in my TBR pile along with a million other books I want to try.

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