A Seduction in Scarlet
by Sara Bennett
They call her the "angel in widow's weeds." More popular than even Queen Victoria, Lady Portia Ellerslie has always put the desires of others above her own. At seventeen, ever the dutiful daughter, she dutifully married Lord Ellerslie, the "Nation's Hero," a man more than fifty years her senior, even though she was secretly in love with Marcus Worthorne. Lord Ellerslie, a great favorite of the Queen, taught Portia to dress, to comport herself with dignity and grace, and introduced her to Victoria who made her a lady-in-waiting. Portia lives a life not her own and longs to leave her widow's weeds behind for just one night to experience the passion she never experienced during her short marriage. Portia arranges for an anonymous encounter in Aphrodite's club and nervously watches the gentlemen, waiting for one to spark her interest. Marcus Worthorne is that gentleman.
Marcus has been drifting through life for far too long, but one encounter with a veiled lady at Aphrodite's club gives him a purpose: he must discover her identity. When a summons comes from the lady via Aphrodite, Marcus has the lady followed and discovers she is the respectable Lady Ellerslie. Marcus wants more than just quick stolen moments and convinces Portia to have a discreet affair, but Portia's ambitious stepson-in-law discovers their secret and uses it to his advantage. It is up to Marcus to free Portia from her adoring public, as well as from the life of mourning that she has been forced into by Queen Victoria.
A Seduction in Scarlet is related to Sara Bennett's “Greentree Sister's” trilogy and is the beginning of a new series. I had read a couple of Ms. Bennett's books in the past and found them to be ok, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this story. Her writing and the emotion she put into the pages gives Marcus and Portia's story a unique twist. Instead of using the oft used “pregnancy plot” when a widow has an affair (which I must admit in this case I was really rooting for just so it would free Portia) Ms. Bennett took the story to places I hadn't expected. I felt sorry for Portia who was forced into perpetual morning by Queen Victoria for her much older husband and despised by her step-daughter and stepson-in-law. Marcus is the only one who wanted her to live her own life and sought a way to make it happen. Portia desperately wanted to be free of her mourning, but she was safe in that world and was afraid of leaving it, which I will admit at times became tedious, but that fear was a necessary part of the story.
Marcus and Portia were characters that I could root for and I enjoyed watching their growth as he learned to live for others and she learned to live for herself. There don't seem to be any important secondary characters to continue the series, so it will be interesting to see where Ms. Bennett will go from here. A Seduction in Scarlet has left me anxious for the next book in the series and it is going on my keeper shelf. Do yourself a favor and don't miss this one.
“Can he seduce her away from the public's eye?”
January 2008, 384 pages
Lady Portia Ellerslie, dearest confidante to Queen Victoria and a woman of impeccable breeding, normally wouldn't dream of dallying in Aphrodite's Club, London's most exclusive and erotic bordello. But one lonely night she finds something enticing about the idea of a wild encounter in the notorious hothouse. Donning a daring, dangerously low-cut scarlet dress and a veil to mask her identity, she arrives at the club ready to succumb to the torrid desires raging inside her … and is shocked to find herself gazing into the eyes of Marcus Worthorne, the man she swooned over at seventeen.
Back then, Marcus barely knew she was alive, but now he's about to make her most wanton fantasies come true. Portia's proper life is about to change forever … because for Marcus one night with the lady in red could never be enough.