Seducing Sir Oliver
Nicole Byrd
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Buy *Seducing Sir Oliver* by Nicole Byrd online

Seducing Sir Oliver
Nicole Byrd
352 pages
July 2006
rated 4 of 5 possible stars
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A quote on this book's cover describes it as a "witty, adventurous romance." This is perhaps a little overstating the case; this book is a charming, gentle story set in the Regency period with a small set of characters (one of the most amusing of which is a monkey), a small amount of adventure and not a great deal of wit. Still, it's a relaxing read and reasonably written.

Miss Juliana Applegate is doing her best to keep her father's small Yorkshire estate running. The family has almost no money, and with three sisters to feed and a disabled father, it is a hard life. Juliana's world is turned upside-down when a strange gentleman arrives to meet with her father and the family learns that he is Lord Gabriel Sinclair, second son of a marquess, but actually their father's son and their half-brother. He wants to do something for his new-found half-sisters and offers to take Juliana to London for a season.

When they arrive, however, Juliana cannot stay with Lord Gabriel and his wife as measles has broken out in their house. Instead, she stays with his friend Lady Sealey, who also has her godson, Sir Oliver Ramsey, as a houseguest. Juliana finds herself attracted to Sir Oliver, and she also finds herself in company with him a great deal in a search for an errant monkey - Sir Oliver is a zoologist studying Mia, the monkey who has a habit of escaping.

Juliana and Sir Oliver find out that Lady Sealey is being sent threatening letters, and they resolve, with Lady Sealey, to find out who is sending them. The action shifts to Lady Sealey's country estate (where Sir Oliver takes delivery of some leopards and a snake), and there is a scene with the escaped leopards which I found rather unlikely. Eventually, with some danger to the protagonists, the sender of the letters is unmasked - not at all a surprise as there were so few characters in the plot that it could only really have been this person.

The point of view stays mostly with Juliana, although there are one or two slightly awkward moments when it changes to Sir Oliver's point of view for a couple of pages. The book might have worked a little better had Byrd just stayed with Juliana, as we learn little new from Sir Oliver's thoughts. I was also rather dubious about our hero's willingness to become intimate with Juliana. He comes across as an honorable and gentle man, so it is surprising that he doesn't adhere to society's views on the treatment of gently bred women. The author probably wanted some intimate scenes, but they are a little out of place with the characters we are following.

Historical detail isn't a strong thread in this book; although the setting is Regency we learn little about the life and social customs (except that Juliana isn't very familiar with how the Ton behaves). As usual in an American-authored Regency, our characters occasionally use American, rather than British, word and sentence forms, but the overall feel works for this kind of novel.

The threatening letters are a plot device that carry on throughout the novel, but I didn't find myself getting much into this part of the story. In fact, the whole novel, although engaging and light, didn't really grab me deeply. There is so little characterization, and the romance is just a gentle falling in love rather than anything more complex. The animal-collector side of Sir Oliver is the only unusual thing about this novel, and it's ultimately a forgettable, if enjoyable, read.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Helen Hancox, 2007

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