Seductive Secrets by Colleen Connally

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Blurb:

Shunned from London society for being the daughter of England’s most notorious spy, Alyce Hythe desires only to clear her father’s name. For years, she has been hidden away from all prying eyes, given a new identity and told to forget who she was. But strange things have been happening causing old rumors to once more be whispered.

Long has Lord Julian Casvelyn lived with guilt brought on when his brother was murdered by England’s most infamous traitor. But one eventful night has changed everything Lord Julian believed about his brother’s death. Never did he suspect the woman he has just saved from certain harm is the daughter of that man. Now Julian is caught in midst of a conspiracy and desire for that woman. Thrown together by fate, the two search for answers long denied them and along the way discover a love that can free them both.

Publisher and Release Date: Smashwords, June 2012
RHL Classifications:
Time and Setting:  Regency England
Genre:  Historical Romance
Heat Level:  2
Reviewer Rating:  4 stars

Review by Susan

Colleen Connally spins a warm romance amidst a string of surprises that will have readers gasping in shock through her latest endeavor Seductive Secrets.  Taking a crack at action adventure, Connally intertwines the investigative skills of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes with a series of cleverly placed turns reminiscent of David Balducci’s work.   The language is true to the era being depicted in addition to the character’s behavior showing a viable representation of the society and its figures at that time.  The novel could easily be considered a literary work in the vein of Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen or Gustave Flaubert.

The story centers around Mary Alyce Hythe whose father, an English spy, is accused of committing suicide after killing Roland Casvelyn, the grandson of Colonel Tolworthy and the younger brother of Lord Julian Gillespie Vernon Casvelyn, Earl of Pentilyon.  Mary means to prove her father’s innocence which poses an honorable objective that drives the story and stimulates the reader’s interest.  There are vestiges of deception, drama, duplicity and trickery peppered throughout the tale, keeping the reader guessing as to who is behind the conspiracy to frame Mary’s father.   When Mary encounters Julian, she expects to see contempt in his eyes.  Instead, he assists her in her investigation to clear her father’s name.  It is only several chapters later that the reader learns precisely how Julian strategically orchestrated Mary’s safety and kept her from being murdered like her father.  Each chapter builds the story to its climax as the identity of the conspirator is slowly revealed and made clear to the reader.

At times, the story drags and repeats past events, which causes the reader to skim through several passages. Another liability is the author overwhelming the reader with superfluous characters coming out of various corners and who present little significance to the story.  It’s the intelligently placed surprises that motivate the reader and the love match of Julian and Mary which gives the story its appeal.  The hero shows strength in a crisis as he leads his lady to safety.  The heroine, however, is a bit wishy-washy but protects her man and those she loves.  The characters are relatable to real people as Colleen Connally takes readers into a microcosm of Regency society.

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