Elena di Duero's husband, Alejandro, has been missing and presumed lost at sea for a year. Cruel and conniving land owner, Don Alicante, wants Elena's pazo, and as a woman she can make no legal claim of ownership if her husband is dead. Don Alicante has left Elena with only two choices, give him all her land or marry him. Elena's marriage to Alejandro had not been a loving one, but by comparison, marriage to Don Alicante is unthinkable to her. Elena struck a desperate bargain with Don Alicante that he should allow one year for her husband to return, and that year is now nearly gone. If Alejandro doesn't return soon, Elena will be forced to marry against her will or be left destitute.
Grayson Prentiss had been sailing on a ship carry a precious cargo back to England to save his financially strapped family, when a terrible storm hit not far off the coast of Spain. Gray realized there was nothing he could do to save the vessel from sinking, so he threw himself into the raging ocean in an attempt to survive. The alarm bell in the coastal village brought the residents, including Elena, out to beach to search for survivors. Even though she knows it is futile, Elena can't help but hope that perhaps Alejandro might be among the survivors. She is shocked to find a man alive in the wreckage who bears a striking resemblance to her missing husband, and when he grabs her hand and won't let go, speculation among the villagers begins to run rampant. Elena takes the unconscious stranger to her home and gently cares for him, including sharing her body heat to warm him from a nearly frozen state. They awake the next morning tangled in each other's arms, and the household servants who witness the scene assume that the man is indeed Alejandro. When Elena realizes that he has no memory of who he really is, she makes a desperate decision to pretend that he is her husband. The more time they spend together, the more Elena comes to think of this kind, honorable man as her mate and love him in a way she never cared for her real husband, and he seems to be falling in love with her too. Still, Don Alicante does not believe Elena's claims of this man being her husband, and eventually his memories are bound to return, possibly leaving Elena right back where she started.
When I finished Bronwyn Scott's Notorious Rake, Innocent Lady, I was left with an unsatisfied feeling about Julia's cousin, Grayson. He had been missing and presumed lost at sea for the entire novel, only to appear on her doorstep in the final chapter, but no explanation of his whereabouts was provided in that novel. Well, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Gray's story had actually been released first in a Harlequin Historical exclusive online e-book, and I just had to know where he had been for all those months. I have to say that I was not disappointed with the story Ms. Scott gave him. Normally, I'm not a huge fan of short stories, as they are often simply too short leaving me wishing for more. That was not the case with Grayson Prentiss's Seduction. I thought that Ms. Scott did a very good job of keeping the plot tight and reasonably credible, and overall found it to be a very satisfying read.
Grayson and Elena are both lovely characters, and even though Elena at first deceives an amnesiac Gray into believing he is her missing husband, I still found her to be very sympathetic. She never seemed like a conniving woman, just one who was desperate for survival, and of course both of them fell hopelessly in love with each other during the course of the charade. In spite of the short story format and the fairly short time frame of only a few months that passed during the course of the tale, the author managed to convey the building feelings between the two characters very well, making their love believable. Admittedly, there are several cliched romance novel elements in this tale, but as with Notorious Rake, Innocent Lady, Ms. Scott managed, in my opinion, to keep everything fresh and interesting with a very strong focus on Gray and Elena's relationship.
Grayson Prentiss's Seduction is the first story in Bronwyn Scott's series about the Prentiss and Ramsden families. Although it preceded Notorious Rake, Innocent Lady, the two stories take place simultaneously. It appears that the next book in the series, Peyton's Bride, which features Julia Prentiss's brother-in-law, Peyton, as the hero will be due out sometime next year. It also seems that there are plans for more books featuring the Prentiss and Ramsden brothers in the works. Although Grayson Prentiss's Seduction is a very simple love story, I found it to be an extremely pleasant and enjoyable diversion. In fact, each time I finished a chapter, I just had to read one more to see what happened next. I read this novella when it was available as a free online e-book from eharlequin.com, but I liked it well enough to consider purchasing the book if it were ever released in print format. At any rate, I am definitely looking forward to reading the future installments in this series, and checking out Bronwyn Scott's other novels, including those written as Nikki Poppen.
Note: Grayson Prentiss's Seduction is no longer a free read at eHarlequin. It appears that it is only available for purchase as part of the e-book package, Bronwyn Scott's Sexy Regency Bundle.
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