I'm a simple girl, with simple tastes. A meat and potatoes girl, if you will. I'm not going to scoff at an eight-course meal, expertly presented - but I'm just as happy to settle in for a good steak, cooked to perfection (medium, thankyouverymuch) and a falling apart baked potato with plenty of butter and sour cream. Authors who consistently deliver "meat and potatoes" in novel form tend to keep me happy and satisfied. Then there are authors like Carrie Lofty who is, I'm beginning to believe, incapable of giving the reader "just meat and potatoes." No, it's an eight-course meal or nothing at all. With Song Of Seduction, readers should prepare to settle in, savor every morsel, and be at the restaurant for a while.
Eight years ago, as his mentor lay dying, Arie De Voss transcribed the man's final musical contribution to the world and promptly claimed it as his own. Love And Freedom gave him fame, allowed him to secure patrons and work, but that one act by a desperate man, is now casting a long shadow. Now living in Salzburg, Arie is hard at work composing a new symphony. A masterpiece that will, hopefully, cleanse his soul.
Mathilda Heidel is a prodigy on the violin, but holds that fact a closely guarded secret. Desperate for a respectable, proper existence, she abandoned her gift to marry a perfectly respectable doctor, a man she was not in love with. When he is tragically murdered, she goes to live with the Venner's. Lord Venner, a gifted politician, and his lovely wife, Ingrid, who is like a sister to Tilda. It's through the Venner's patronage that Tilda meets her musical idol, Arie De Voss. A man she has dreamed of, a man whose music has touched her soul. However it comes as a bit of a surprise to realize the man is nothing like the idea of him she placed on a very high pedestal. Be that as it may, he awakens her passion for the violin, and lessons begin. Lessons in music, lessons in passion, lessons in love, and more importantly, lessons in truth.
Let's get this out of the way up front: this is not a book you can abandon after the first 20, or even 50, pages if it fails to engage. The author is setting out to seduce the reader through the music and the characters, and frankly, that takes time. If you suffer from a short attention span, or are in a mood for "fast-paced," Song Of Seduction is going to be a slog of a read. It's a story designed to be savored. Slowly. Every morsel to be thoughtfully chewed and reflected upon. To illustrate this point, the author employs descriptive passages to weave a spell. As the reader, we can't hear the music, but we feel it. We feel it as a slow burn coursing through the characters' veins. As Arie seduces Tilda with his music, she seduces him with her violin.
The use of descriptive passages, the slow unfolding of the romance, did make the first half a slow starter for me. I struggled with this story for a while, unsure of how I truly felt about it, until I realized how truly remarkable and different it is. First, we have the backdrop of 1804 Salzburg, which the author spends time introducing us to. Then there's the fact that the heroine acts like one would expect a heroine in 1804 to act. I'm not a massive stickler for historical accuracy (::snort:: hardly), but even I get annoyed after a while with 19th century heroines who behave like hoydens, throw themselves at the hero, and toss up their skirts without so much as a by your leave. Everything a woman did, even the seemingly mundane, had consequences. One small step out of line, and you were branded. So being a violin prodigy, a widow with a tragic past, would be enough to brand Tilda as scandalous, and even worse. She's a woman haunted by the shadow of gossip, a woman willing to deny who she really is because of her desire to be perfectly ordinary. The problem being, of course, that she's anything but.
Arie is a bit more of a mysterious character than Tilda, and it takes a while to get a firm grip on the guy. He's talented in his own right, but haunted by that one fateful decision. His interpersonal skills are atrocious, but he finds he has to make nice with others if he wants to make a living with his music. He's captivated by Tilda, but is uncomfortable with her idolization. For her part, Tilda may idolize Arie, but she quickly learns that the man is, most of the time, insufferable. It's through the music that they find their way to each other, and through the music that they fall in love. When the truth (his and hers) comes spilling out, they are also, in part, healed by that music.
This is a hard book to assign a grade too. I've waffled on it quite a bit. The slow start had this one sitting around a C+/B- for a while. But as the author peeled back the layers, challenged her characters, revealed more of them, I realized how remarkable this story is. The interesting setting, the heroine who behaves like someone I'd expect to exist in 1804, the temperamental and musically gifted hero, and most importantly, the passion. True, unadulterated, pure passion. While one would think that's a given in every romance novel, it takes a story like Song Of Seduction for one to realize, that sadly, passion isn't always in abundant supply. So for all those reasons and probably a few more I haven't thought of yet....
Final Grade = B+
Song of Seduction is a digital-only release from Carina Press. It can be purchased at Amazon (Kindle), B&N (nook), and direct from the publisher (PDF and EPUB).