by Julie Anne Long

May 2007
ISBN: 0-446-61688-5
Reviewer Graphic Button Warner Books
Mass Market Paperback

His poetry is powerful, passionate and erotic. His handsome countenance has caused many a feminine heart to stutter. He cares little about his peers’ opinions, and less about society’s rules. He is called The Libertine, and Rhys Gillray, Earl of Rawden, is about to discover a cure for his boredom.

Raised as a vicar’s daughter, Sabrina Fairleigh sometimes has difficulty keeping her emotions in check. She feels things too deeply and struggles to maintain her modest composure. She hopes that Geoffrey Gillray, her father’s curate, will offer marriage and that they will embark on a mission of good works in far away lands. However, missions cost money, and Geoffrey must petition support from his cousin, the Earl. When Sabrina is asked to accompany her friend to the Earl’s house party, she hopes that Geoffrey will be pleasantly surprised.

Sabrina quickly discovers that the Earl of Rawden is too clever, too wicked, too tempting for someone with no worldly experience. He has a way of striking a nerve within her that brings her temper (and other passions) to the forefront. Rhys is enjoying his little game of cat and mouse, toying with the pious and proud young woman who hopes to marry his reformed cousin.

In London, far from the Earl’s estate, events are happening that will affect Sabrina and Rhys. Susannah and Sylvie have found clues that may lead them to their lost sister, Sabrina, and they are eager to locate her. Little do they know that their family history is entwined with the Gillrays, and that secrets revealed can do much harm.

Author Julie Ann Long has written a superlative final novel in the Holt Sisters series, and I am truly sorry to see the saga end. The Secret to Seduction is powerful and evocative. In writing about The Libertine, Ms. Long has given her imagery full rein. Readers will feel the heat as Rhys sets about his seduction of Sabrina, when just a turn of phrase can take on new meaning. He is a passionate man who learns the power of true love when he has lost it all. This book runs the gamut from chuckles to throat-closing tears and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Although certainly strong enough to stand alone, read in sequence with Ways to Be Wicked and Beauty and the Spy, the trilogy demonstrates historical romance at its best.

Reviewed in June 2007 by Paula.

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