My Seductive Innocent by Julie Johnstone
Overview by Amazon:
Miss Sophia Vane, a hoyden of the first order, makes an unlikely match when she weds Nathaniel Ellison, the rich and wary Duke of Scarsdale. What starts with an unexpected friendship soon blooms into a fiery passion. But a betrayal plunges Sophia into the thorny world of London Society and entangles her in a labyrinth of manipulation and jealousy that will test the strength of her marriage. Behind her husband’s sudden icy facade, Sophia believes dwells the caring, passionate man she loves. To break through the barriers and reclaim their happiness, they must do more than simply cast away their pride. They must fight for their very lives.
I cut my teeth on historical romance novels at the young age of thirteen. My introduction was courtesy of Judith McNaught. The second book of hers that I read was Something Wonderful. It’s a delightful tale of a young miss living a squalid life buried in the countryside when she rescues a duke and ends up married to him. He is the victim of foul deeds and disappears for a year and is presumed dead. His little child bride grows up and takes the ton by storm. When he returns the two need to negotiate life together, dealing with lust, love and danger.
I recently wrote about the sadness you feel when you have finished reading a great book. You long for the adventure to continue, to spend more time with the characters you love and to feel the emotional connection to the book. I adored the book Something Wonderful. I haven’t read the book in a couple of years and yet I can still remember passages as vividly as if I read it yesterday. What was so amazing about this book by Julie Johnstone was that this book was reminiscent of Something Wonderful.
The central elements of the plots are similar – young woman saves a duke, quickie marriage, duke presumed dead, wife takes the ton by storm and husband comes back from the dead. However, this book had a different, yet equally satisfying flavour. The characters are different and the circumstances, but the writing is excellent and vivid. I found myself enthralled with this book. It was as if I was spending more time with a plot I loved.
Julie Johnstone has created amazing characters that vibrate with intensity on the page. Her heroine is simply wonderful. Sophia has been disillusioned by life and yet she still has hope. She has never allowed the difficulties of life to quash the sliver of hope that lingers in her. When she meets Nathan, her whole world changes. Throughout all these changes, she stays true to the person she is. I think this is one of the many things I liked about this book. Sophia retained her character regardless of the drama and issues. She was a real person with emotions that were entirely relatable. Nathan describes her as, “Sophia was not a beauty on the outside, but on the inside, she might just possibly be an Incomparable. That she was rough, yet gentle. Fragile, yet fierce. Smart, yet uneducated. Worldly, yet naïve. And that he felt as if he had only peeled back the first amazing layers of his complicated wife.”
Nathan was extremely well written. It could have easily been a clichéd figure – unable to love, horrible childhood, rake, etc…However, his miserable childhood is the mystery that Sophia unravels to understand the man she married. She learns of a boy who had love beaten out of him and imagines ways to bring it back to him. Nathan endures horrible conditions to stay alive and human and Sophia is his talisman. It doesn’t take Nathan’s abduction to begin the transformation. He changes once he meets Sophia and she works her way under his skin. Although he marries her out of pity and to protect her, Nathan sees the diamond in the rough and is moved in a way he hasn’t been since he was a young boy. Like all of us, the scars and wounds from family cause long lasting traumas that can never remain truly buried. Sophia makes Nathan uncomfortable because she forces him to face his past and reimagine his future.
There are some very steamy scenes in the book. I heartily enjoyed the passion that Nathan and Sophia found with each other. There lust was genuine and real. With Sophia’s naiveté, her enthusiasm couldn’t be calculated and you felt all the love she poured into her embrace.
I loved that this book had similar plot to a classic on my shelf. It made the book comforting and also exciting to read. Julie Johnstone is a very talented author who has taken a story that could have been so typical and made it special and new. She has created characters that are authentic. The book comes out March 26th and is available for pre-order here.