Monday, March 14, 2011

Review: Song of Seduction by Carrie Lofty

Tormented by guilt. Haunted by scandal. Freed by love.

Austria, 1804

Eight years ago, composer Arie De Voss claimed his late mentor's final symphony as his own and became an icon. But fame has a price: fear of discovery now poisons his attempts to compose a redemptive masterpiece. Until a new muse appears, intoxicating and inspiring him...

Mathilda Heidel renounced her own musical gift to marry, seeking a quiet life to escape the shame surrounding her birth. Sudden widowhood finds her tempted by song once more. An unexpected introduction to her idol, Arie De Voss, renews Mathilda's passion for the violin—and ignites a passion for the man himself.

But when lust and lies reach a crescendo, Arie will be forced to choose: love or truth?
What is there not to love about Song of Seduction by Carrie Lofty? There's love, passion, angst, a different and gorgeous setting, excellent historical details and beautiful writing to top it all off.

In Song of Seduction, Lofty weaves a story where both main characters are flawed and in need of redemption and/or forgiveness in one way or another. They need to be accepted and loved as they are, for whom they are and forgiven for past injuries to others. I've always thought that flawed characters provide a writer with a greater opportunity of digging deeper into them, not just into their past histories but even down into their very souls to make them truly three-dimensional and believable. Carrie Lofty achieves this brilliantly in Song of Seduction.

It's 1804 and winter in Salzburg, Austria. Renowned musician and composer Arie De Voss arrives in the city looking for a patron and hopefully some students so he can continue to write his latest masterpiece. That's how he ends up at Lord Venner's home as the entertainment for the evening. Arie is best known for his first symphony, Love and Freedom, a composition that we almost immediately discover, he stole from his dying music master. He is obviously tormented with guilt and self-disgust over his past actions and not willing or able to enjoy the fame that music has brought him.

Arie is socially inept, rude and sarcastic to say the least, and hates and resents having to perform his music in these types of venues. To him these public performances are a necessary evil. Drinking before the performance is the only way he sees himself enduring an evening at the Venners. The only interesting part of the evening turns out to be his introduction to Mathilda Heidel, a widow and close friend of the Venners.

Mathilda first heard De Voss play Love and Freedom when she was sixteen years old and his symphony inspired more than just her inner musician to play the violin. There's hero-worship there on her part, and through the years he's played a central role in her personal fantasies. Tilda is young and alone except for the Venners, who took her into their household after her husband died.

She gave up playing the violin, repressing the inner musician after deciding to marry and lead the life of a doctor's wife. At first when her friend Lady Venner suggests that she should take violin lessons with De Voss, Tilda is reluctant, but after hearing his performance that night she's again inspired and agrees. At first Arie thinks that Mathilda is not really a musician, and just wants an excuse for a seduction. Instead to his complete amazement she turns out to be brilliant both as a violin player and as a composer.

The story has a slow beginning and Lofty takes her time with character development, but believe me it picks up and then it's worth every reading minute. Arie and Tilda don't fall into each other's arms immediately. The music is an important part of their initial relationship, however it creates an intimacy that helps the development of deeper and meaningful feelings on both sides. I love that the characters, especially Tilda, react and behave exactly how I would expect people from that time period to react and behave. As a result, Mathilda's conflicts felt real for a woman that lived in 1804 under her particular circumstances.

The love scenes between Arie and Mathilda are intense and passionate with a capital P. There's a sense of freedom and eroticism in them that I just didn't expect to find in this book, but then... I didn't expect to find the rest either. The love scenes reflect Arie and Mathilda's feelings for each other, as well as the intensity of their musicians' souls -- Lofty conveys this beautifully. Their love and romance is also well done as both Mathilda and Arie learn to love and accept each other as they are with all their foibles and past sins.

The writing is gorgeous too. Not only can this couple’s passion, torment and guilt be deeply felt, but in addition the music can almost be heard coming off the pages as Lofty describes Ari playing the piano and Mathilda the violin. The setting and time period are also so well conveyed that I was transported to the city of Salzburg in 1804, and the historical details and personages are there in spades as well for those readers who enjoy them.

Song of Seduction is a complete historical romance. Despite the slow beginning it has it all, from love and a romance riddled with conflict between compelling characters, to character depth and historical details in a beautiful setting, to excellent writing. I couldn't ask for more.

Category: Historical Romance
Series: Followed by Portrait of Seduction
Publisher/Release: Carina Press - June 7, 2010
Source: I won this book at a Desert Island Keepers book blog giveaway.
Grade: A-

Visit Carrie Lofty here.

Series:
Song of Seduction
Portrait of Seduction - May 2, 2011

14 comments:

  1. That sounds like a good book; I'll have to add it to my to-buy shelf on GR.

    It also reminds me of another book I read Back When, but of course I've forgotten the title. [headdesk] It might've had "Vienna" in the title, or might not've. And the author's name was Janelle... something. I'm pretty sure it wasn't Janelle Taylor; I looked through her books on Amazon, and nothing rang a bell, plus her earliest book listed there was 1989, and I'm pretty sure this one came out in the mid-eighties.

    The Guy was a composer, but I think one of his hands was partially disabled. The Girl was a brilliant pianist, but of course everyone condescended to her because she was only a woman. It's set in eighteen-something Vienna, and I remember enjoying it very much. Bother, I wish I could remember either the title or the author's last name! [more headdesking] Anyway, it sounds kind of similar to this one, so I thought you might enjoy it, if it, like, falls out of the sky and lands on the sidewalk in front of you or something, since obviously you can't go hunt it up.

    Angie, hiding under her keyboard

    PS -- if I think of it, I'll come back :)

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  2. Hah! The Google-fu is mighty, even if it occasionally takes a while! :D

    It's Vienna Dreams by Janette Radcliffe -- I was close, LOL!

    ==========

    SHE FOUND THE MAGIC OF LOVE IN THE CITY OF MUSIC AND DREAMS....

    A woman's place -- the parlor, not the concert stage! But radiant Diana Ballantyne, pianist extraordinaire, had one year -- a year before she would bow to her father's wishes, return to England, and marry.

    She had given her word, yet the moment she met the brilliant maestro, Baron Lukas von Korda, her fate was sealed. He touched her soul with music, kissed her lips with fire, filled her with unnameable desire.

    One minute warm and passionate, the next aloof, he mystified her, tantalized her. She longed for artistic triumph, ached for surrender, her passions ignited by...VIENNA DREAMS

    ==========

    Link to Amazon although it's OOP and this is a used copy. I definitely want to replace mine though. :D

    Angie

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  3. Angie, you're killing me, lol! Thanks for the recommendation, I'm definitely going to check it out. Especially since you did all the research for me... I was going to start the Googling. *g*

    I hope you enjoy this book, Angie. I loved it!

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  4. I loved this one so muchy. It made my best of the year list last year.

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  5. I remember hearing about this one a while ago, but yours is the most thorough review i've read.

    It sounds like a great story and I love that it's set in Austria and all about music.

    I'm so glad you enjoyed it so much and I shall add it to my list!

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  6. Lori, I can see why you loved it! If I'd read it last year, it would have made my list too -- it was just that good. :)

    Alex, somehow I missed hearing about this book when it was released or just don't remember? But, I'm really glad that I won it and read it. It's a wonderful historical romance and I do hope you enjoy it too.

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  7. My reaction to this book is pretty much identical to yours. I too found the beginning slow going, but then....happy, happy sigh. It ended up being a magical read for me - and like Lori, it landed on my Best Of list for last year.

    Did you know she's written a sequel? Portrait of Seduction comes out in May, and Oliver is the hero (*squee!*)

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  8. Loved the review Hils. :) Looks like this is a winner for many readers. Putting it on my TBB list.

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  9. Really, an A-? I have to read a sample chapter of this! Lol. Glad you enjoyed the book so much!

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  10. I thought it sounded good when I first saw it but didn't get it. I need to rectify that! Great review!

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  11. Fantastic review Hils - thank you :)

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  12. Wendy, yes! I loved reading this book I got past that slow beginning. And wow, it also made your Best Of list last year... totally understandable. :)

    I'm excited about the sequel to the book and especially that it's about Oliver!

    Leslie, definitely one I think you'd like and I look forward to your thoughts on this one. :)

    Tabitha, lol! Yes, it was that enjoyable for me! The sample is a good idea, but warning... the book gets better as it goes along!

    Tracy, thanks... I hope you enjoy it too. I look forward to your review. :)

    Orania, thanks & you're welcome.:D

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  13. Oh this book was on my radar and it just slipped out of my mind. I've read so much about this one, but knowing you enjoyed it... LOL, another book I need to get :) I'm just afraid to have a mental block towards it ^_^;

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  14. Nath, I'm glad that I read this book as a "blank slate." I don't remember reading about it, so it was a complete surprise for me. A great one. I am sorry that it took me so long to read it though. I hope you read it at some point and enjoy it. :)

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