Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Publish date: Out now
How we got the book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
Juliana St. John was raised to be very proper. After a long engagement, her wedding day dawns—only for Juliana to find herself jilted at the altar.
Fleeing to a side chapel to compose herself, she stumbles upon Elliot McBride, the tall, passionate Scot who was her first love. His teasing manner gives her an idea, and she asks Elliot to save her from an uncertain future—by marrying her…
After escaping brutal imprisonment, Elliot has returned to Scotland a vastly wealthy yet tormented man. Now Juliana has her hands full restoring his half-ruined manor in the Scottish Highlands and trying to repair the broken heart of the man some call irredeemably mad. Though beautiful and spirited, Juliana wonders if that will be enough to win a second chance at love.
*blurb taken from Goodreads*
Lou: I’ve been a huge fan of the Highland Pleasures series since the introduction to Ian MacKenzie. I admit that The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie was a hard book to beat, but I think Jennifer Ashley has done a fantastic job overall in delivering a consistent series. In the fifth Highland book, the MacKenzies family take a back seat and we’re introduced to a McBride. The McBrides are the brothers of Ainsley, who is married to Cameron MacKenzie. Elliot McBride is a broken man. He was captured and kept as a prisoner by a tribe in India. They tortured him and made him do unspeakable acts. Elliot has never come to terms with what has happened to him, and he suffers from episodes (I think it was a severe case of PTSD) where he can’t control himself or his actions. Elliot is drunk as a skunk when he meets his childhood friend and first love, Julianna. Julianna has been left at the altar, and decides who better to ask to marry her than her first love.
I admit, this is probably my least favourite book in the Highland series. There was something missing for me in this book. I still can’t decide if it was the character of Elliot or the external plot featuring the killer. It’s probably a touch of both. I enjoyed the romance but I didn’t feel or believe in the connection between Julianna and Elliot.
E: I was excited to return to Ashley’s world of Highland Pleasures but like Lou I thought this was missing something. I enjoyed the initial set-up and meeting the wide variety of characters but they never completely captivated me like the original set of MacKenzies did. After thinking about this story I got the impression that it was a transition one. Designed to introduce the next set of characters as well as demonstrate a passage of time but it didn’t have a captivating plot for me. I was never fully convinced of the threat to Elliot’s life and I thought those issues were resolved a bit too neatly. I found the concern about Elliot’s PTSD far more intriguing and wanted to see more of how he was able to overcome or heal from his past.
Lou: I agree with you. I think Elliot’s PTSD would have been a much stronger plot development rather than the ‘who is it’ killer. Elliot’s past and his episodes were touched upon, but I felt they were secondary compared to what else was going on. I also didn’t feel the connection between Julianna and Elliot. I’m not a huge fan of flashbacks, but I think one or two would have worked here so the bond was visual between them. It felt like the book started at the wrong moment. Elliot and Julianna meet again after years apart, but it felt as if the surprise wasn’t that much of a surprise. Julianna and Elliot acted as if time hadn’t passed them by.
E: Yes, we had to take their connection on faith. While Elliot used Julianna as his talisman while he attempted to regain his sanity during his imprisonment I was never sure about Julianna. She did work towards establishing their household and I know she cared about Elliot but I didn’t see the love aspect. I was never sure how much of that caring was loyalty because he married her and her memories of the Elliot who was versus the Elliot of today. I liked how she cared for his servants and their various personality quirks which I admit made me laugh more than once. I also liked how she basically kicked his nosy family out but even with all that something was missing between them. I also think that after the vividness of the MacKenzie characters the quieter, more subdued Elliot and Julianna didn’t pack the punch that Ashley is capable of providing.
Lou: I think it was tension that was missing between Elliot and Julianna. In previous books there was a build up of attraction and tension. In this book it was missing, and the romance became a little lack-lustre. Like you, I loved the family dynamics but I did think that Elliot didn’t pay hardly any attention to his daughter. It didn’t come as a big surprise, but I thought that Julianna integrated into the new household too easy. There just wasn’t enough excitement for me. I admit I had to put the book down once which hasn’t happened to me in a previous Ashley novel. Even now, I’m struggling to remember the name of the man that was stalking Elliot.
E: Maybe that was it. This book was missing internal tension between Elliot and Julianna and the external tension wasn’t enough to carry them. I never had the impression that Elliot and Julianna would end their marriage if they weren’t able to make things work but they would keep up appearances. I need my h/h to have something seriously at stake that they both fight for instead of just trying to build a tolerable life together.
Lou: Yes! I like romances where you see both the hero and heroine strive to achieve their HEA. I really wanted to see more of Elliot’s personality also. He did feel rather two dimensional. I’m not sure if the author tried to do something similar with Elliot compared to the character of Ian, but this time it didn’t work for me. I did love Daniel and the other appearance of the MacKenzie’s and I can’t wait for the next book.
I give The Seduction of Elliot McBride a C-.
E: I have enjoyed Ashley’s series to this point and look forward to her next installment but this one is not going on my keeper shelf. Like Lou said, the entire story wasn’t very memorable. I have grown to expect strong vibrant heroes and heroines from Ashley who have to fight each other as well as some unknown enemy. Instead it almost seemed like the supporting cast was more vivid than the primary characters.
I give The Seduction of Elliot McBride a C-