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Category: Books and Stories

Seduced by a Stranger by Eve Silver: a Review

"The vast, dense forest and murky lake that surround Cairncroft Abbey aren’t the only menacing elements that envelop the estate. For a dark history lies behind its walls-where secrets and evil still linger…

Catherine Weston arrives at Cairncroft Abbey to visit her childhood friend Madeline St. Aubyn whose health seems to deteriorate with each passing day. Even stranger, Madeline appears to grow more nervous whenever she is in the presence of her cousin, Gabriel. But Gabriel has quite a different effect on Catherine-stirring a longing deep within her…

Gabriel St. Aubyn is haunted by the curse that has plagued his family for decades. Living with the constant torment that he too will succumb to it one day, he has resigned himself to a solitary existence.

Yet when he meets Catherine, he cannot resist her company - or his growing desire for her. But when a young woman is found dead, Catherine cannot ignore the link between this horrific crime and Gabriel. Is he the tender, charismatic man she loves - or a sinister stranger waiting to make her his next victim?…"

I haven't finished reading it yet, but I believe I already can give my opinion. The writing is very good, I would say she writes better than the majority of romance authors of our generation. She writes like a poet. It feels very close to what a gothic romance would sound like.

Like Francine Prose says "A well-crafted phrase transcends time and genre. A beautiful sentence is a beautiful sentence, no matter when it was written, or if it appears in a play or a magazine article."

               Eve Silver writes beautiful sentences. It is not an easy and so-fluid read, but it makes you want to keep reading nonetheless.

"The girl stared at her, eyes glittering with the reflection of what paltry light bled through the darkness. She glided closer, reached out, and laid her palm flat across Catherine’s chest, above her heart.

      “Tell me,” she whispered urgently. “What does it feel like to die?”

      Catherine struggled to form a reply. She had not died. She lived. She lived. And she was so grateful for that.

      Just then, the headmistress came with a candle, the flame dancing and bright against the blackness. Mesmerized, Catherine stared at the orange glow, so beautiful, so warm, and she wondered how to answer her friend, her savior.

      What does it feel like to die?"

But nothing is perfect. She had the potential to develop some parts better. For instance, the main couple's relationship seems like "it was meant to be" or that they have such an uncontrollably strong attraction for one another that neither the author can explain. Every time this kind of plot appears in a novel, the feeling that the writers are either too lazy or ill-equipped to write emotional growth of their own characters. They don't have good reasons to push the pair together, so they use this mysterious intense desire to fill in the storyline.

Every time the narrator focuses on the male lead's feelings, it's always about how he wants to fuck her, how smart she is, and that he wants to know more about her past. Desire is not love, and it's not how love starts, passion it is.

The author seems to have an urge to frequently write forceful men. Not Penelope Douglas forceful, because that would be straight up a crime against literature and human rights, but it is still an uncomfortable amount of him doing as he pleases, even though creating a clear fear in the protagonist's heart. 

I have a strong distaste for how authors of the genre - romance, that is - make it seem like the protagonist is really smart, but she doesn't - she never - outsmart her love interest. She is always insufferable, but he is still able to make her lose her "balance". She never loses composure, but he is always able to make her blush. It is so annoying.

Despite it all, I will - at least I plan to - finish reading all of the six books that she published with the gothic romance theme - I would not dare to say they fit the genre -, as her writing is pleasurable, but I am already anticipating that all of them will have this "it was meant to be" like Twilight has, although it is clear that Eve Silver writes far better than Stephenie Meyer. If I need to rate this book, I would say 3,9 out of 5 stars.

Though the writing is much simpler, I believe Juliet Marillier's novel "Son of the Shadows" does a better job of establishing a slow-burn romance. They - the main couple - don't have this strong urge right away; instead, as they spend more time together, they begin to understand and gradually grow to love one another. 

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