The moment anyone mentions the word therapy, we all picture that stereotypical image of someone sprawled out on a chaise-longue in a dimly lit room covered with books and art. The discussion of feelings and your relationship with your mother are often the hot topic as you sob into a man-size Kleenex. It is an intense, personal experience as you are exposing yourself to a complete stranger. You are trusting them with your deepest and darkest thoughts. But what if the person sitting in front of you, trained and paid to keep your secrets seduces you to cross boundaries and throw out the rule book? The person who is sent to help you turns out to be your biggest mistake yet. So why does it feel so right? Be warned dear reader, things are about to get a little hot.
Today I am on the blog tour for The Seduction (Published 11th June 2020) By Joanna Briscoe. A big thank you to the publishers Bloomsbury Publishing for sending me a copy to review, always appreciated. Also thank you to the lovely Anne from Random Things Tours for the invite.
What if the person you trust the most turns out to be the greatest danger of all?
Beth lives in the tree-shrouded no-man’s land by Camden with her partner Sol and their daughter Fern. Life is peaceful, but Beth is troubled by increasing unease. It could be the uncertainty of her mother, who disappeared when Beth was a child. Or it could be the sense that Fern is keeping secrets from her.
So she goes to therapy. Dr. Tamara Bywater is there to help her patients. But what if the very person who is meant to be the solution becomes the most dangerous problem of all? And why is what’s bad for us so enticing?
About The Author
Joanna Briscoe is the author of five previous novels, including the bestselling Sleep With Me, which was adapted for ITV by Andrew Davies. She has been a columnist for the Independent and the Guardian, is a literary critic for the Guardian, and broadcasts regularly on Radio 4.
The narrative follows Beth; wife, mother and artist. She lives in a doll-like house on Little Canal Street by Camden Lock with her husband, Sol, and their teenage daughter, Fern. Life appears happy and calm, yet a wave of doubt bubbles away under the murky waters of the canal. Beth is haunted by the face of her mother, Lizzie, who left her when she was a child. Beth also worries that her relationship with Fern is becoming strained and distanced. Beth keeps getting anonymous calls that repeatedly harass her day and night. On the request of Sol she decides to attend therapy with Dr. Tamara Bywater. The sessions soon become more personal, intrusive even, and a game of seduction is slowly teased. They start to break all the rules as they grow closer and begin to feel a deep desire for one another.
Beth is an intriguing character to follow. She is naturally a worrier and extremely protective of her daughter. She is always telling Fern she loves her and wants to kiss her goodnight. Beth is constantly on top of her and even convinces Sol to ring the police one evening when she is late home. It’s a suffocating atmosphere as she is desperate to prove she is a good mother and loves her daughter. This dedication and devotion is what slowly pushes Fern further away from her.
Beth’s relationship with her husband is stale. They care for and love each other but appear more like roommates than husband and wife. She is often elsewhere in her head and sometimes thinks about her ex boyfriend Jack Dorian whilst having sex with Sol. She hasn’t felt attractive in a long time and begins a slow downward spiral of lying to her family, the more intense her therapy sessions become. It is ironic as she has a fear of messing everything up and while attempting her best not to, she does exactly this. She spends a lot of her time worrying and working herself up into an hysterical state especially since Fern continues to keep coming home late. And with her therapy sessions becoming her only secret pleasure in life, Beth quickly becomes a tangled mess of highs and lows that has an effect on everyone around her.
As Beth’s feelings for Dr. Tamara intensify she sees moments were she could have made it all stop. Beth soon begins to eat, breathe and sleep for her therapy sessions. She often wonders what Dr. Tamara is doing and tries to find her online to no avail. She wants Dr. Tamara to like her, and to impress her Beth starts dressing up for their sessions. The reader can see she is becoming obsessed and feels concerned as Beth continues to be out of sorts. She’s confused and doesn’t understand why she feels so strongly for Dr. Tamara. She had gone there for help, to solve her problems and all it has done is create more messy, unfulfilling ones.
The scenes between Beth and Dr. Tamara are drenched in sexual tension. They play off each other well. Briscoe teases the possibilities, the foreplay between the two leaving the reader gripped to every page: Will they? Won’t they? It builds and builds to a point you find yourself shouting “Just kiss already!” It’s addictive to read as you soon discover how unreliable Dr. Tamara is for a therapist. There is a constant switch in behaviour as one moment she is throwing herself at Beth and then in an instant she is distanced and doesn’t contact her for days. It drives Beth and the reader mad as she jumps from hot to cold in quick succession.
I didn’t really know who the real Dr. Tamara was in the end. It left me questioning if she was using Beth because she was bored with life, or did she really love her? It kept me on my toes. At a first glance I thought Dr. Tamara would be a no-nonsense professional psychiatrist helping Beth come to terms with the departure of her mother, and possibly addressing the little crush situation. Nope! Wrong! I did not see what actually took place coming, it caught me off guard and made for titillating reading.
Briscoe’s writing is a beauty to read. She paints rich, vibrant and captivating imagery. I could hear the ducks on the canal and the slow movement of the ripples as I sat by Camden Lock watching the world go by. One of the many reasons that Beth enjoys painting landscapes is because they come with a history, a story. Whenever I read a scene where Beth was painting outside and taking in all the nature, I immediately felt relaxed. As the story unfolds Sol starts to notice that Beth’s paintings are becoming darker. I loved this little detail. Beth’s mood affects her art and she also enjoys a layering brushwork technique which plays well with her character as she starts to lie, building layer after layer of distrust in her family. The canal and art had a life of their own in this book, it was gorgeous to read. Briscoe has captured it superbly.
I give The Seduction By Joanna Briscoe a Four out of Five paw rating.
This book is throbbing with intense, pent-up sexual tension that will leave you yearning for more. You will find yourself biting your lip in anticipation for those forbidden moments of desire that are desperate to be unleashed and satisfied, again and again and again.
Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour, dates below, enjoy.
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