Lesson one: Never disrobe in front of a gentleman . . . unless his request comes at gunpoint.Lesson two: If, when lost on the moors, you encounter Tarquin Compton, the leader of London society who ruined your marriage prospects, deny any previous acquaintance.Lesson three: If presented with an opportunity to get back at Mr. Compton, the bigger the lie, the better. A faux engagement should do nicely.Lesson four: Not all knowledge is found between the covers of a book. But an improper book may further your education in ways you never guessed.And while an erotic novel may be entertaining, the real thing is even better.
Within the first few pages, I was totally engrossed with this book and with an opening like that I knew I was in for a real treat. I found that the book had two parts: the first half focusing on the zany and fun antics of Celia and Terrance’s trip across the moors; trying to find help, clothes and food as they flee from the robber who accosted them. During this time, Celia — who I have to say was the definition of a delightful minx — spins a convoluted tale to Tarquin on how they became to be ‘engaged’ and have a series of adventures from escaping an angry mob of villagers who assume they are gypsies, to an amorous farmer who is willing to barter some of his goods for Celia.
The second half of the book concentrated on the romance, the emotional and psychological development of both Celia and Tarquin, which added a lot of depth to their characterization. The mystery of the story also kicked up a notch and the reason why Celia was targeted and abducted is explored and there were some interesting twists on how that played out.
Celia was such a fantastic heroine and I loved how Miranda Neville twisted the story of the amnesiac plot-line in a fun and unexpected way avoiding the pitfalls of this trope which I am not a huge fan of. I also loved the interactions between Celia and Tarquin. Their witty dialogue was a joy to read and I laughed out loud several times during their antics and the events that befall them as they travelled across the moors to find a haven.
‘ “Your home is in Cornwall. Near Falmouth, on the sea.”
“A very suitable location for a family of Fishes. Are we big Fish or little Fish?”
“You told me your family is highly respected.”
“But the question is, how big is the pond in which we swim? And how many are in the shoal? Am I an orphan Fish? An only Fish? Do I have living parents or close relations?” ‘
In a lot of ways, the lie that Celia concocted helped strip all of their inhibitions and emotional walls so that they really got to know their inner selves as well as each other. Although Celia does feel guilty about perpetuating the ruse, and when Tarquin finds out, he is understandably miffed with her that he resorts back to his cool persona and the societal rules that he hides behind. It is only in the second half of the book that their romance is really explored and developed which delves into their characters. I especially liked how they both rebelled against society in their own way by living or creating their own rules. Celia is very determined to make her own way by living by her own rules because she was unable to fit into the ones that were set out for her. Tarquin also does the same, and because he is so influential, other people follow those rules. I just loved that over the course of the book, they realised and saw through all the boundaries they set themselves and that for me propelled this book from a fun good book, to a fantastic one.
Another highlight is a book that that features inside the story that Tarquin purchased; about a hero who goes on an amorous education himself. But Celia ends up reading the book and passes it onto her friend, Minerva. And quoting from the book:
“What do you suppose this means? ‘A deluge of spermy rapture’” This had me cackling out loud and it was fun to read in the notes that this was a real book, and it’s good to see that bad sex scenes are universal over the ages.
I do have to say that although the mystery (the reason why Celia was followed and pursued by the robber over the course of the story) was well done, I did think that there were a few coincidences about some of the perpetrators, and it was a bit convenient on how this all tied up. But this was pretty much a minor gripe.
The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton was a rich and fulfilling story filled with laugh out loud moments, sparkling and witty dialogue, and real emotional depth in the romance. The characters, including minor ones, were a vivid and lively cast that added so much to the story. I am firmly a new fan of Miranda Neville and I implore that you get this book, because I absolutely loved it!
I give The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton an A!