Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tuesday Review: Just Janga

A Study in Seduction
By Nina Row
Publisher: Forever/ 
Grand Central
Release Date: August 28, 2012

Lydia Kellaway is a math prodigy, one whose affinity for numbers goes beyond an extraordinary ability to comprehend the most complex mathematical formulae. Lydia uses math for comfort when she is troubled, for mental worry beads when she’s nervous, and for a shield to protect her from situations that threaten her poise and peace. Her genius has both enriched her life and limited it. Her father, Sir Henry Kellaway, a renowned scholar in the field of Chinese history and literature, and her maternal grandmother have always encouraged her to develop her gift, but her mathematical abilities and the circumstances of her childhood have isolated her. As an adult, she continues to be an isolated figure, devoted to her younger sister Jane and immersed in a world of numbers. She understands math, even using it as a means of comprehending things she cannot understand, things like passion and love. All this begins to change when Lydia’s grandmother pawns a locket that was Henry Kellaway’s gift to his bride. The locket has great monetary and sentimental value, but its value is beyond price to Lydia, for it guards a secret she has given a decade of her life to protecting.

 Alexander Hall, Viscount Northwood, eldest son of Earl Rushton, purchased the locket, intrigued by its uniqueness. Northwood has spent the past two years trying to pull his family back from the precipice of social ruin where his mother’s elopement with a Russian soldier and the divorce that followed propelled them. The scandal was disastrous for Northwood, his younger brothers, and their sister whose Russian blood and ties to a country the insular English viewed as uncivilized already caused society to view them suspiciously. Northwood has spent countless hours working with various charities, clubs, and particularly with the Society of Arts as part of his plan to restore his family’s reputation. He also hopes to arrange a marriage for his sister Talia that will lend the family greater respectability. His family’s restoration has been his focus since he returned to London from Russia to face the gossip and a broken engagement.

When Lydia approaches Northwood to negotiate for the return of the locket, both their lives begin to change. The attraction between them is immediate, and it grows stronger with every meeting. In Northwood, Lydia finds someone who respects her mathematical genius but recognizes the vulnerable, passionate woman as well. In Lydia, Northwood finds someone who makes him happy, who makes him see life is larger than the concerns that have consumed them. The relationship between the two develops gradually on all levels—physical, intellectual, and emotional. But just as the two are about to claim their happiness, a threat from Lydia’s past surfaces, jeopardizing all that she holds dear.

Rowan gives readers a romance that is different in many ways. First, there is Lydia, a nerdy, socially awkward heroine with a dark past. Then, there is Alexander, a hero who legitimately can be expected to evoke the exoticism and dangers of Russian Cossacks and steppes. Finally, there is the setting: London, 1854, just before England and France declare war on Russia. Lydia and Alexander’s story is complex and compelling, made more so by Alexander’s ties to Russia. The secondary characters—Lydia’s sister, Jane, and her grandmother, Alexander’s father and his siblings, Sebastian and Talia, and his friend Castleford—are all interesting in their own right.

A Study in Seduction is Rowan’s debut in historical romance, although she has previously published as an author of erotica under a different name. Readers will find plenty of sizzle in ASIS, but the story is far more than a series of sexy scenes. It has angst, humor, and mystery. It’s also the first in a series. Sebastian, the musical brother, is the next hero. I look forward to his story, and I’m hoping to learn more about Darius and Nicholas, the mysterious twins who are only mentioned in the first book. I’m also really hoping that Talia and Castleford will have their own book. I suggest you check out A Study in Seduction now, so you’ll be ready for A Passion for Pleasure in the spring.

Do you like romances that move beyond ballrooms and house parties? Have you read other romances with a Russian connection?


quantum said...

Lydia sounds a fascinating heroine. I note that Rowan is a historian, not a scientist or mathematician, but has a scientist husband who no doubt provided some of the low down on mathematicians!

Quite unussual for romance I think though I have read a few romances where the heroine is a scientist struggling to establish herself in a man's world. Its a theme that I like.

I actually prefer romances that 'move beyond ballrooms and house parties', being fond of Westerns and authors like Elizabeth Lowell who deal in 'outdoor romance'.

On the Russian connection I well remember Kristin Hannah's 'Winter Garden' with the mysterious Russian mother and her eventually revealed memories ... especially the siege of Leningrad.

Another splendidy helpful review Janga.
I'm running out of superlatives for this blog! LOL

Janga said...

Q, Rowan said in an interview that her husband is a research scientist and that he, along with mathematicians, vetted her use of math formulae. Frankly, since the last time I liked math was when I was learning to count to one hundred, I expected a mathematical heroine to be unsympathetic. But I found her fascinating. I'm sure you will understand things I missed.

Thanks once again for your kind words about the blog.

irisheyes said...

This sounds interesting, Janga. I have to admit to not really straying from the norm in my reading. I pretty much have to keep telling myself to try something different. As I say again and again - in the hands of a talented author any setting is good. I've stopped saying never to almost anything, except paranormals. LOL (did I just say never? :))

I believe Lisa Kleypas had a Russian duo out early on. Since I've read everything she's written I know I've read it. I can't really recall the plots and characters, though.

Janga said...

I don't read a lot of paranormals either, Irish, but even in that subgenre, there are exceptions. I've read those by Christina Dodd, and I never miss Debbie Macomber's angels. Nora Roberts has been using paranormal elements forever, and I like Angie Fox's books.

I had forgotten Lisa Kleypas's Russian characters. Prince of Dreams and Midnight Angel are the titles, I think. It's been a long time and many Kleypas books ago that I read those.