by Susan Johnson

July 2001
ISBN: 0-553-58254-2
Reviewer Graphic Button Bantam Books
Mass Market Paperback

If you are new to the works of Susan Johnson then please be advised that she has a well-deserved reputation for steamy erotic romances. Her hero and heroine are often naked and writhing before the end of the first chapter. Seduction in Mind follows this path, although it is the heroine, Alexandra Ionides, who gets naked first. In fact, her beautiful nude body has been painted several times (although with the face concealed to protect her identity) and these wonderful paintings have caught the eye of Sam Lennox, Viscount Ranelagh. Sam is a lover with a legendary reputation, both in numbers and technique, and he is obsessed with adding this nubile female to the ranks of his conquests.

Through friends, Sam locates the model and meets Alexandra as she is sprawled naked in a sensuous pose for her artist friend Frederic Leighton. (Susan Johnson's research into the time period is impeccable, and she frequently introduces real characters into her stories - Frederic Leighton is a case in point. His paintings of highly romanticized classical or historical images are gaining in popularity today and can be found on posters and calendars at your local mall.) Surprisingly, Alex doesn't want to fall immediately into bed with the notorious Viscount, and Sam finds himself challenged to find a way to seduce her into an affair. And that is all he wants - Sam's reputation is for many varied affairs, none of which last more than a few days. Alex, on the other hand, has been twice widowed, and is an independent woman of means; her life involves art (she is a fine painter in her own right) and the many charitable causes she supports whole-heartedly.

Needless to say, this wouldn't be a romance if the spark between these two didn't flare up every time they meet and it is interesting to read about Alexandra's conflict when it comes to the annoyingly sensual Sam Lennox. Should she give in to her body's urging and take Sam to her bed? Or should she stay within the relatively safe confines of her orderly world? Fortunately for us, Alexandra has the freedom to make a choice.

Susan Johnson's heroines tend to be strong women who are not afraid to live their lives to suit themselves - quite the opposite to most women of Victorian times who found themselves repressed, overburdened, and forced to follow the dictates of a male-dominated society. Perhaps this is why it is easy to like Ms. Johnson's heroines more than her heroes - the women are opinionated, driven and feisty, unafraid to be themselves. Her heroes, on the other hand, tend to fit a mold. They are handsome, sexually gifted, well-to-do men, sometimes of the aristocracy and doing what is second nature to them - living life to the fullest. (Apparently they did not consider it to be terribly unusual for sex to last for hours! Where they got their sexual stamina and skills from, I can't begin to imagine!! And how come the heroine's muscles never cramped?) While they are perfect as heroes, they are, unfortunately, less memorable. At the end of this tale, it is Alexandra's courage and passion we remember, rather than Sam's surrender to inevitability.

Reviewed in August 2001 by Celia.

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