A new Mary Balogh book is always something to look forward to, especially when a new series Then Comes Seduction follows First Comes
Marriage, which focused on the middle sister of the Huxtable family, Vanessa, finding love after a marriage of convenience.
Then Comes Seduction has, in some aspects, a similar overall theme. In this story love comes after marriage, but the marriage isn't that of convenience - it is required when a scandal brews. Katherine Huxtable knows that Jasper Finley, Baron Montford, is a rake, but he's an amusing conversation partner and rather handsome with it. However, when he leads her into a side path at Vauxhall and introduces her to passion, he informs her it is all because of a wager that he can seduce her within a fortnight. Something in Montford's conscience means that he doesn't go through with the seduction, but they are both so embarrassed by the episode that they avoid each other for the next three years.
When they meet again and Jasper's young half-sister, Charlotte, takes a shine to Katherine and her sister Meg, they are thrown together. Unfortunately, the social world knows that Montford is a rake who never shows any partiality for ladies of quality, and a scheming relative may see a way to hurt Jasper. When marriage is the only option, both Jasper and Katherine fear their future. Can she survive in a marriage with a man who will not love? Can he ever overcome his awful childhood with a cold, unloving stepfather?
As always with a Balogh book, Then Comes Seduction is well-written with in-depth characters, some moments of lightness as well as some of high emotion. Montford perhaps seems fairly un-rakish after the first few chapters, and Katherine's naïveté isn't always that appealing. The initial seduction scene is unconvincing; I was sure that she would have put a stop to events before they got to the situation they were in, but this is a minor quibble within a book that otherwise I enjoyed, particularly the vignettes into life in the country and putting on a fête for local villagers.