The Study of Seduction by Sabrina Jeffries (March 2016)
This is easily one of the best historical romances I’ve read this year. I don’t read Sabrina Jeffries all that often but heard this book had a trope I love–unbeknownst to the heroine, the hero has been attracted to her for some time. Edwin is an earl who’s a bit grumpy (I love a grumpy hero!), doesn’t have much of an inclination for all the social niceties, and is interested in making automatons. He has known social butterfly Clarissa for a few years through a friend/family connection. Clarissa thinks he’s very stuffy and always criticizing her. They are thrown together when Clarissa’s cousin, the head of their family, is called out of the country and he asks Edwin to watch over her. She needs watching over because the acting French ambassador is stalking her. The reason for that was fairly obvious to me but that didn’t detract from the story.
Clarissa has a traumatic secret in her past which, word of warning, is described in enough detail that it might upset some readers. I thought the portrayal of Clarissa post-trauma was really well done as was Edwin’s handling of the revelation of that incident. While there are peripheral external subplots going on, this is truly a sweet romance between a curmudgeon and a resilient woman. Read it if you get the chance.
P.S. This is also a RITA finalist. I hope it wins:-)