Anne Mallory is one of those authors that seems to sit just under the conversation. Mention her name and you’re sure to find some fans but ask readers to name romance authors they love and it’s unlikely anyone in the conversation will mention her. (I used to discuss this phenomenon with another author. She had a long and respected career in a number of time periods and tones, she wrote for various publishers, and yet she never had the tip of the tongue status of authors with a fifth of the career. It’s inexplicable what makes an author stay in everyone’s mind.)
Being a huge fan of Anne Mallory’s, and with her upcoming book being the second in this loosely connected series, I thought I’d remind everyone of Seven Secrets of Seduction. Miranda and the Viscount. The shopgirl and the aristocrat. There are some standard cliches in this sort of pairing and Mallory deftly avoids them through careful characterization. Miranda is not poor, she is what we might think of as middle class. She spends her break gossiping with her friends, she spends her evenings on her own pursuits or at parties, she is a fairly normal girl recovering from a serious loss. Society annoys her more than it impresses her. (Reading this I wondered if Anne Mallory ever worked high end retail. She certainly nails elements of a career in service.)
So, Miranda is not terribly interested in someone coming to save her from penury. This brings us to the Viscount, or Max. I really hate to say a thing about him. The way Mallory unfold his character over the course of the book is lovely, the reader learns about him alongside Miranda. I hate that I’ve even told you he’s a Viscount. While the focus is on Miranda, how she crosses his path, how she comes to first desire and then adore him, the star of the book is the Viscount. The player who plays himself, the lost and lonely boy who wants to have it all ways. Although sharing few elements, Seven Secrets of Seduction reminded me of Edith Layton’s The Fire Flower in it’s emotional maturity. At one point Miranda tells Max that is is because she loves him that she must hurt him. There is a fundamental flaw in their relationship that will eventually poison it. Better to hurt now than hurt forever. Who hasn’t faced that moment in their life? When love really isn’t enough, when the grand gesture wouldn’t change anything, when it’s not your fault or my fault, it just is? It’s a lovely book. If you didn’t pick it up last year, it’s worth reconsidering.