Smile Politely

A red-hot read for a cold, dark night

Well, it’s me, Nina. Smile Politely’s resident prude and romance novel reader. I thought I was pretty well versed, but I’ve recently learned that I have more growing to do. I’m most comfortable with romance novels with the slow-build, beginning with so much sexual tension that the characters will combust at the slightest rubbing of elbows. I know of another kind, of course—that being the raunchy festival of fornication seen in books like Fifty Shades of Grey. Thanks to author Jade Lee (writing under the name Kathy Lyons) and her book, Two Week Seduction, I know of an even more sex-filled third kind. After reading for a measly 12 minutes, I found myself thinking, “Daaaaamn, book! Buy me dinner first!”

Two Week Seduction features two protagonists who both struggle to fulfill their family duties. Alea is a red-haired rebel of a high-school teacher in a family of lawyers, and John supports his mother and sisters by enlisting in the Air Force right after high school. Each have felt an attraction for the other since high school, but were unable to indulge. Now, ten-ish years later, John is back in their hometown of Jacksonville, Florida on a two-week leave. Alea has to find a way to finally close the deal with John. They also have to make some big decisions about their professional lives: Alea has been accepted to the top law schools, and John must determine whether he’d like to re-enlist. The romance between them is more the style of Nora Roberts, but also has the electrifying sexiness of Fifty Shades of Grey, minus the gross, vagina-clenching details.

Ms. Lee creates interesting, layered characters with whom the reader can empathize and for whom s/he can cheer. The dialogue is natural, but can sometimes be distracting. For example, Alea’s brother declares, “A summer fling? That only works out in romance novels.” Really? I thought I was reading a romance novel. It’s like in the movie Zombieland, where we’re watching Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg play zombie apocalypse survivors. And then they stumble upon Bill Murray. Why is Bill Murray being Bill Murray? In what world is Bill Murray a person, and Woody Harrelson isn’t? Stop messing with my willing suspension of disbelief!

I also get nit-picky when it comes to depictions of educators. As any teacher will tell you, the most awkward part of teaching is running into students — or worse, their parents — while going about the town. I know Jacksonville is a lot bigger than Champaign-Urbana, but you wouldn’t have caught me gadding about town in thigh-high boots and a leather mini skirt, even when I taught in Washington, DC. Alea’s sexual liberation is to be admired, though, even by a prude like me. She’s unashamed about enjoying sex, and even stands up for herself when John tries to make her feel guilty for being “crude.”

And speaking of being crude, the many sex scenes are real — so real that they even include conversations about contraception. And there’s no “pulsating members” to be found here. Lee isn’t afraid to call a cock a cock. Other times, her descriptions and extended metaphors are unexpectedly beautiful.

Two Week Seduction is great for readers who wish for a little bit more action in their romance novel. With a book like this in her repertoire, I have to believe any little book by Jade Lee is worth checking out.

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