Review: Dangerous Seduction by Zoë Archer

Dangerous Seduction by Zoe ArcherFormat read: ebook provided by Edelweiss
Formats available: ebook, paperback, mass market paperback
Genre: historical romance
Series: Nemesis, Unlimited, #2
Length: 385 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Date Released: November 26, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Alyce Carr has no time for the strange man in her little Cornwall village, no matter how breathtakingly handsome he is. Life in Trewyn doesn’t allow for much fun—the managers of the copper mine barely provide the miners and their families with enough food. Outsiders are suspect and flirts are unimaginable, but Simon Sharpe is as keen as his name…and Alyce can’t ignore him for long.

As the founder of Nemesis, Unlimited, Simon Addison-Shawe is well accustomed to disguise and deceit. Yet he’s not prepared for Alyce’s dogged defense of her people and the injustices the copper mine has dealt them. With Alyce’s help he can change the fate of an entire town, and convincing her to join him is only part of the thrill. Together, they ignite a desire in each other much too powerful to deny. But at what cost?

My Review:

I want more Alyce. Probably Simon agrees with me, but the heroine of Dangerous Seduction, Alyce Carr, was awesome on so many levels I don’t know where to begin.

Not that the hero was bad, either, but Simon is merely terrific, where Alyce is practically a superheroine.

Someone in the remote Cornish mining village of Trewyn has written an anonymous letter to Nemesis, Unlimited outlining all of the many and varied abuses visited on the community by the owners of the Wheal Prosperity mine. Yes, the name comes across as supremely ironic, because the mineworkers are anything but prosperous.

Working for Wheal Prosperity has become the closest equivalent to chattel slavery available in the U.K. The company pays only in scrip, which is only usable at the company store. Which of course inflates its prices and sells spoiled goods. The owners borrowed the whole concept from the American West, and it was just as horrible there, too.

The scrip is not transferable into cash. No one can ever save up any money to get away, because there is no real money. And Trewyn is 10 miles from the nearest town, so there’s nowhere to go, and no one to notice.

Until Nemesis brings Simon to their door. Simon Addison-Shawe may be an aristocrat, but that’s not what this job needs. So Simon fakes his way in as a machinist. The mine needs engineers to keep the pumps working, and Simon gets the job. On his very first day, he meets Alyce Carr, a woman from as different a background as possible from the drawing rooms his family inhabits.

Bal maidens in traditional protective clothing, 1890
Bal maidens in traditional protective clothing, 1890

Alyce is a bal-maiden. She’s one of the women who swing a heavy hammer to break up the chunks of ore into small enough pieces to be usable. She’s physically strong, and mentally self-reliant. Also completely defiant, when Simon meets her, she’s arguing with the managers about the rancid butter in the store.

Alyce hasn’t been cowed or bowed by conditions at the mine since the new ownership took over ten years ago. She’s an unacknowledged leader of the community, but she doesn’t know it. Only Simon sees how people look to her to settle their disputes and answer their concerns.

He needs an ally who knows the community. He’s fascinated by this woman who doesn’t hide her strength of mind or body, unlike all the useless twits he meets in society.

Alyce doesn’t trust this stranger who starts out defying the corrupt constabulary, and invites himself home to dinner with her and her brother and sister-in-law. When Simon reveals what he’s really up to, she’s more distrustful, and more intrigued by the possibility of finally righting the village’s wrongs.

Alyce is all in with Simon’s plans to outfox the mine owners, to the point of risking her life, but she’s less certain of risking her heart to a man who can’t stay in the place she feels bound. And Simon loves Alyce, but he’s been taught that duty, in his case his duty with Nemesis, comes before everything he might want.

Escape Rating A: The beginning is just a tiny bit slow, because absolutely everything in Trewyn is so grim that it weighs the story down. Once Simon and Alyce start taking the fight to the managers (the butter run is marvelous) the story becomes an absolute page-turner.

Simon finds himself by becoming a mining machinist. Not because Trewyn is a great place to live (it isn’t) but because he doesn’t just immerse himself in his role, but he expands himself into it. Everyone in Trewyn is living their life as best as they can, and in spite of the hardships, there is a tremendous amount of love and friendship. Simon the machinist is able to be closer to his true self, playing a part, than he is in the drawing rooms and sporting clubs that are supposed to be his natural habitat.

Alyce finds herself, too. Not just because she has found a man strong enough in himself to love her as she is, and not need her to pretend to be less, but also because Simon makes her stretch to reach new ideas and new goals. He needs a true partner, and she’s always needed someone who wanted everything she had to give. Nemesis needs everything and more, if she’s to help defraud the owners and defend the town.

Their love story absolutely glows. Both of them have always put duty and responsibility before anything else, and they believe that what they have found together is something that they can’t keep, but can’t resist while it lasts, no matter how much it’s going to hurt.

They work hard for their HEA, and it’s awesome.

wicked temptation by zoe archerI have enjoyed the entire Nemesis, Unlimited series (Sweet Revenge, reviewed here and Winter’s Heat, here) but I adored Dangerous Seduction so much, that I couldn’t wait to dive into the next book in the series, Wicked Temptation. I hope I can tempt you to take a look at my joint review with E_Bookpushers today over at The Book Pushers.

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