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Proof by Seduction (Hqn) Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 126 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Carhart Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Historical romance fans will celebrate Milan's powerhouse debut, which comes with a full complement of humor, characterization, plot and sheer gutsiness. The setting is 1836 London, where fortune teller Madame Esmerelda, née Jenny Keeble, plies her dubious trade at the fringes of respectability. She draws the ire of Gareth Carhart, marquess of Blakely, when his young cousin and heir falls under Madame Esmerelda's spell. Socially inept scientist Gareth wants to prove that Jenny is a fraud, leading to some delightful nonsense as Jenny inventively complicates the terms of Gareth's proof, but the more these two tangle, the more they come to see each other's attractive qualities among the flaws. If too much psychoanalysis sometimes gets read into a single heated gaze, such freshman flaws barely distract from the joy of watching the characters develop amid delightful plot twists. (Jan.)
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From Booklist

Jenny Keeble spent a dozen years building her career as fortune-teller “Madame Esmerelda,” and if the stuffy, unfeeling nobleman Gareth Carhart thinks she’s going to give it up without a fight, he is madder than a hatter. Convinced that Madame Esmerelda is a con, Gareth plans on scientifically proving that the lady is a fraud. Challenged by Gareth to put up or shut up, Jenny declares that she will successfully predict whom Gareth will marry, and so the two begin their battle of wits. Newcomer Milan expertly portrays an irresistible hero whose faith in logic is turned upside down by a sharp-witted, sharp-tongued heroine. Mix in captivating secondary characters, lively writing, and sexy chemistry, and the result is an unforgettable romance debut. --John Charles
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Product Details

  • Series: Hqn
  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HQN Books (January 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0373774397
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373774395
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,067,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Schreiner on December 29, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Prior to getting Proof By Seduction, I heard a lot of buzz about this book and debut author Courtney Milan. I was eager to get my hands on a copy, and I was just as eager to see how this book would hold up to all the talk. I am happy to say it held up well, more than well. Courtney Milan writes a very smart, funny, and romantic book.

Lord Gareth Blakely is a broken man, a cold, tortured soul. He was raised to take over his title, and it left little room for fun. He knows nothing of showing his emotions or how to interact with people. One of my favorite things is that Gareth stays broken throughout much of the book. There are no overnight miracles. He doesn't take one look at Jenny and start frolicking through a meadow the next day. He has been an emotionless being all his life, and it takes time, and as he learns, much determination, to become someone better.

Jenny is posing in her life as Madame Esmerelda, a fortune teller, who possesses no actual gift, except the gift of persuasion and trust. She has taken what life has thrown at her and made the best of it. Although she in essence swindles money out of people, she has a good heart and would not choose this life if there were other alternatives.

Gareth, a scientist is determined to prove Madame Esmerelda a fraud for his cousin's Ned's sake. Ned went to Jenny years ago with severe depression, with thoughts of ending his life and Jenny predicted a future of happiness and hope. Ned has prospered since then, and Jenny feels a fierce loyalty and protection over him. Blakely feels the same feelings toward Ned, and sees Esmerelda as a liability to him.

Ned, desperate to show Gareth that Jenny is the real deal, pleas with her to predict something.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Not quite a 4, but a thistle seed could barely fit into the gap.

I selected Proof By Seduction because there was a lot of good buzz out there, but also because I'd seen the author around blogs and she seems pleasant, level-headed, professional, and appreciative of readers without feeling a need to sell her soul. After one particularly eloquent reply, I pre-ordered PBS. Ha, just noticed the initials -- for all the people who must contend with literary snobs, they can for a brief period say they were "enjoying PBS."

Set in 1838, we meet Jenny Keeble who has spent more than a decade masquerading as a fortune teller. Through this ruse she's befriended a young man named named Ned who is in line to be a marquess. Jenny, while taking Ned's money, has also used her "abilities" to improve Ned's sense of self-worth. The current marquess, his cousin, is determined to show "Madame Esmerelda" is a charlatan. As proof of her abilities, Jenny tells Blakely, our science-minded hero, that if he follows her instructions that she'll identify his future wife and that he'll be engaged within a month of that. Her out would that he didn't obey on some technicality.

The tasks she asks of him also serve to humanize him and make him reach out to other human beings.

There are many things to enjoy about this debut, and I can see why people are excited about Ms. Milan's future. The characters are all amusing in different ways and most are intelligent. The author is skilled at making you care about them, particularly Jenny. I liked that fairly early on the Madame Esmerelda ruse was disposed of between Jenny and Gareth (Blakely), if not Ned. There was also the wonderful idea what she was so good at pretending to be a seer, because she was a astute judge of people.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I long ago burnt out on Regency historicals (yes, the novel is set in the earliest part of Victoria's reign, but there was nothing "Victorian" about the characters, the plot, or the setting), but decided to try Proof by Seduction because of the buzz surrounding the book. At best it's a very well written and competent romance novel, with excellent pacing and above-average characters. There is nothing technically wrong with Proof by Seduction and Milan proves that she is earmarked as the next generation of great romance writers, but there is a distance between myself and the characters due to the incessant naval-gazing. The book was comprised of many tiny conflicts both external and internal, but they were solved the moment they cropped up, which made me frustrated by the extreme consciousness on the part of Jenny and Gareth as to their faults and flaws. For all that Jenny was supposed to shake up Gareth's life, it was her life that was ultimately destroyed. As a result, my entire sympathy lay with Jenny, particularly when the little bit of independence she'd gathered for herself was torn from her grasp by not only other characters, but by Gareth as well. By the end of the book, Jenny was a sad, soggy mess, and her obsequious contrition for claiming the only kind of independence a woman could have, short of selling her body, left a sour taste in my mouth. Ultimately, I was disappointed with Proof by Seduction because instead of being an intelligent, adult and romantic romp featuring my favorite trope (uptight man undone by a care-not woman), it was the story of an independent woman made low. I actually rooted for Jenny to make her way to America and start over again after Gareth dashed her dreams because becoming his marchioness cheapened her story.
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