2013 Book #26 – Seduction in Silk, by Jo Beverley

The biggest thing that struck me about Seduction in Silk, by Jo Beverley was that there was no plot.

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Okay, well, that’s not exactly true. The internal plot (relationship plot) is definitely there. And it’s good too! I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for the marriage of convenience trope. I’ve used it myself several times. To me there’s just something about two people who have to come together—in this case because of a will and a possible curse. I like seeing a hero and heroine work out their feelings for each other after the ink is already dry on the marriage certificate. I guess I’m weird that way.

I’d never read anything of Jo Beverley’s before, but I’ve definitely heard her name. I got to meet her for about three minutes in Atlanta this summer too. She seems like a lovely British lady, the kind I would very much enjoy sitting down to tea with … in a cozy cottage in Hampshire on a rainy day. She writes very much like I imaged she would, full of very British imagery and characters.

She did inadvertently hit on one of the issues I have with Georgian (and Regency) era novels. The dialog was just so “accurate”. Now, I know I’ve raised this issue of historical accuracy in novels before. I’m in the school of thought that is not a stickler for the rigid rules of period dialog and description. It is possible to convey enough of the mood of a piece without turning it into a graduate-level dissertation on manners.

Fortunately, Jo Beverley didn’t trip too far into the dissertation category. I did find it a little hard to get into the patterns of speech that she presented for these characters though. I don’t know, there was just something … foreign about it. On the other hand, as soon as I did get used to each character’s way of talking I could really appreciate the fact that the way each character spoke informed their personality.

In fact, I would say this was a novel of personalities. Each of the major characters, the hero, Perry, the heroine, Claris, and some of the minor characters like Claris’s grandmother, Athena, and Athena’s companion, Ellie, were all very well constructed. And I kept picturing one of my writer friends in the role of Athena, which made for good fun. So even though there wasn’t a lot of external plot, I enjoyed sitting back and watching what these characters were doing with their time.

I have a few questions for anyone who has read Jo Beverley or other books in this series (The Malloren World series) before….

One of my biggest, shall we say, disgruntlements about the book was that nothing actually seemed to happen. When not convincing Claris to marry him to break a curse and satisfy the terms of a will or falling in love with her, Perry seemed to be some kind of a spy-catcher. But the “case” that he was working on didn’t ever feel solved to me. Is this a plot that carries through all of the books of the series? Because it makes sense if that’s the case. If it isn’t the case, then I found the outcome of the spy drama disappointing. But I do have the feeling that I stepped in on a single episode of a long-running series.

I was also a bit disappointed in the answer to how the curse was placed and whether it was real or not and who did the cursing. I’ll let you come to your own conclusions on that one, but to me the resolution wasn’t as high-stakes as I thought it could have been.

All-in-all though, I did enjoy reading this book. And I think I will sample some of Jo Beverley’s other work once I have a chance. I found her style light and easy and fun to read.

And I think I’ll keep in the same genre for a while here because I have so many historical romances still to read!

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3 thoughts on “2013 Book #26 – Seduction in Silk, by Jo Beverley

  1. I have that language problem with a lot of “serious” Fantasy novels. The speech is often very formal and dated, and I find it incredibly boring. There’s no reason for it. True, the settings are often semi-medieval, but it’s a world the author created– no one can say that writing dialogue in a style that’s more familiar to modern readers is wrong, as long as we’re not stepping into anachronism territory, which is a whole other problem.

    I’ve been told I go too far the other way, that my characters’ speech occasionally sounds too modern. I’d like to find a balance so that it’s not a deterrent for readers either way, but you really can’t please everybody. 🙂

    I probably wouldn’t have picked this one up anyway based on the “pretty girl in a gorgeous dress” cover, but it doesn’t sound like I’m missing a book I’d have liked. All romance and no other plot drives me bonkers, even in a romance novel.

    • Yeah, I know I’ve been criticized for my characters sounding too modern too, but that’s the way I hear them in my head. I figure that there was slang and informal language in any era and that the best way to get that across is to use the equivalent language to the time in which I’m writing. But not everyone agrees with me. Oh well. Fantasy novels are a whole other kettle of fish! With all that leeway, why make it difficult for the reader to understand what you’re trying to say?

      • Exactly, and especially in a world where they would be speaking a completely different language. If the author is technically translating anyway, why translate to an antiquated form of English rather than a modern one? It’s like saying that the King James Bible is more accurate than a more modern translation, even if both are translated from the same original source material, and the newer translation might be more accurate. Old-timey language might be traditional and occasionally prettier, but I don’t think it has more value in and of itself, and it’s definitely harder for me to understand and enjoy, in any book.

        I have the hardest time coming up with unique slang/curses for my worlds…

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