STAR CROSSED SEDUCTION – Jenny Brown
London, England – 1820
Temperance Smith is a pickpocket living on the mean streets of London; she and her two friends’ nighttime refuge is about to be demolished and as the leader of their little group, she has done a terrible job keeping their heads above water. Becky has a twisted spine, and Clary is so young. It looks as if Mother Bostwick’s brothel will be their next stop, until an old friend who has turned to a lawful life meets her on the street and says his employer, Lady Hartwood, wants them to be her first residents at her Refuge for Unfortunate Females. With nowhere to go, the three girls go with her, but Temperance is sure she’ll just stay and eat and maybe get a bath, because she couldn’t stand to live with someone who puts down the poor. Her boyfriend, Randall, was killed in his fight against oppression, and he brought her in to his crew that stole money to fund his fight. Just the night before, a soldier had saved her from men who had seen her pick his pocket and wanted to turn her over to the police for a small reward. Captain Miles Trevelyan quickly falls for her charms when she unbuttons his pants and then runs away as they fall to his knees and he can’t run after her. But how awful the way that he made her feel with his kiss; it’s like she cheated against Randall.
Miles has returned to England on leave after ten years in India, and his mother insists he marry and produce an heir before his leave ends; without an heir his mother will lose her part of her husband’s estate. But when he meets Temperance after she picks his pocket, he is enthralled with her attitude. When Temperance goes to Lady Hartwood’s, she leads him to believe she is at a brothel, and he makes an offer to Lady Hartwood’s husband for a month of her time in spite himself. He soon learns Temperance isn’t afraid to lie practically all the time, and yet a tentative relationship grows between them. When Miles is asked to recover a rare gem from Sir Humphrey, it is suggested Temperance has been sent to make a fool of him and steal the gem first. But when Miles takes her in a fit of rage and disappointment, they both much face up to the fact that neither of them has been honest with the other.
Jenny Brown has written a story with many different parts and points of view from both Temperance and Miles. However, there is rather too much internal explanation by each character of why they are doing everything, and why something is going to go wrong. The beginning is fast paced between all the characters, but when the relationship of Temperance and Miles is the main part, the story slows down. The soldier meeting a woman who is a pickpocket and developing affection for her, and then throwing an assignment from the government into the mix was very interesting, but brought down by all the characters thinking and rethinking every move they make.
Secondary characters are Becky and Clary, Temperance’s friends, and Lady Hartwood, who in addition to wanting to save unfortunate women is also an astrologist and casts their charts. Sir Humphrey has a jewel that needs to be returned to India, and Major Stanley is Miles’s steadfast friend.
STAR CROSSED SEDUCTION is a tale of two very different people: a man who lives for God and his regiment in India meeting a young pickpocket who, in all ways, seems like a completely wrong mate. If you are enthralled with history and the machinations of governmental officials, this is the story for you.