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Authors: Susan Johnson

Seized by Love

BOOK: Seized by Love
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Unanimous praise for bestselling author Susan Johnson

“Johnson uses her fertile imagination to blend a strong heroine, unbridled sex, and … history into unadulterated fun.”


Publishers Weekly

“Her romances have strong, intelligent heroines, hard, iron-willed men, plenty of sexual tension and sensuality and lots of accurate history. Anyone who can put all that in a book is one of the best!”


Romantic Times

“The author’s style is a pleasure to read and the love scenes many and lusty!”


Los Angeles Herald Examiner

“She writes an extremely gripping story … with her knowledge of the period and her exquisite sensual scenes, she is an exceptional writer!”


Affaire de Coeur

All of the characters in this book are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

SEIZED BY LOVE
A Bantam Book / published in association with Doubleday
Publishing History
Playboy Press edition published in 1978
Doubleday Loveswept edition / October 1993
Bantam Fanfare edition / May 1994

All rights reserved
.
Copyright © 1978 by Susan M. Johnson
.

Library of Congress Catalog Number: 92-45720
.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher
.
For information address: Bantam Books
.

eISBN: 978-0-307-57514-2

Bantam Books are published by Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc. Its trademark, consisting of the words “Bantam Books” and the portrayal of a rooster, is Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries. Marca Registrada. Random House, Inc., New York, New York
.

v3.1

Then talk not of inconstancy
,
False hearts and broken vows
;
If I, by miracle, can be
This live long minute true to thee
,
’Tis all that Heav’n allows
.

J
OHN
W
ILMOT
,
S
ECOND
E
ARL OF
R
OCHESTER
CIRCA
1670

Dear Reader,

When I wrote my first book, SEIZED BY LOVE, in 1978, I was thoroughly enamored with Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances. Having recently discovered her, I’d managed to find copies of all her romances in a matter of a few months and read them in a pleasurable rush. But I was utterly frustrated in one sense because these fascinating characters never went beyond the genteel bounds of a kiss or two. What this world needs, I said to myself, is a Regency with sex. And that’s what I set out to do when I wrote SEIZED BY LOVE. In my usual cavalier way, I ignored the fact that SEIZED BY LOVE wasn’t set in England, nor did the events take place in the Regency period. It was stylistically a Regency, my paean to Georgette.

Now, I hadn’t read SEIZED BY LOVE since I’d written it all those years ago, and when I looked at it recently with the thought of doing some minor revisions, I was astonished to discover how typical it was of the bodice-ripper era of romances. There’s an actual bodice-ripper scene in the story. Wow, I thought, did I write that? I’d forgotten. But in the end I altered it very little because SEIZED BY LOVE is a book I couldn’t write today. So much has changed. Women’s and men’s roles in our culture have substantially altered in the years since SEIZED BY LOVE was first published: steps toward equality in the workplace, in the family; legislation to insure civil liberties; new options for career choices have all contributed to both the perception and reality of today’s woman and man. And those transformations—radical, subtle or mood permutations—are reflected in current romances.

But so many readers have written to request reprints of the Kuzan family series, I was very pleased when Bantam decided to reissue them. SEIZED BY LOVE is my only tribute to Georgette Heyer; books two and three in the series (LOVESTORM and SWEET LOVE, SURVIVE) are further evolutions in my story-telling techniques. As a painter originally, I’m familiar with stylistic and creative changes. Think of these books as my “early Russian style” in contrast to the new Susan Johnsons.

I hope you enjoy this introduction to the Kuzans. Nineteenth-century Russia was a land of beauty and harsh contradictions, its aristocracy capable of savagery and the most refined sensibilities, the landscape vast, varied, dramatically majestic. Nikki and Alisa’s story is one small part of that enormous canvas. LOVESTORM and SWEET LOVE, SURVIVE travel to more distant locales in the Empire of the Tsars and continue the story through two more generations.

Best wishes,

Susan Johnson must know a witch—one of those good, yet powerful witches who can create magic for her … I’m not often asked to review books for
Affaire
, and I must say to review a classic like SEIZED BY LOVE was indeed an honor.

Written in 1978, SEIZED BY LOVE is the first of the Russian series written by Susan Johnson. It was our first hint that Susan Johnson was special. Let’s start with her annotated footnotes, an exceptional tactic because for the first time, an author realized and addressed the intellect and interest romance readers have in history, and she educated us. Secondly, she threw convention to the wind and set her story in Russia. And, just think, 15 years ago, it was almost unheard of for a heroine in a romance not to be a virgin; the hero never admitted to having children, except with a deceased wife. More than those things, though, Sue Johnson took sex scenes to a new level, still unreachable by most.

Meet Alisa and Nikolai, the two unconventional stars of the tale. Alisa is prim and proper and is in an untenable marriage with an old, abusive husband. Nikolai, privileged, spoiled, and bored to tears is idling his time away at his country estate when a friend challenges him to seduce the unapproachable Alisa.

Alisa turns out to be much more than a single-minded, virtuous country maid. In fact, she’s almost too much for Nikolai who not only doesn’t want to marry now, he wants to marry a stupid woman who is a good breeder.

Is SEIZED BY LOVE a classic?

You bet! Because it withstands the test of time. It’s true the market has undergone some changes since it was written, and authors have shied away from manipulating their characters in the same manner Ms. Johnson does Nikolai and Alisa. Yet, SEIZED BY LOVE rises above those changes and tells a wonderful tale.

Pass the Magic Wand over here, please, Sue. Better yet, keep writing!

—Louise B. Snead, Publisher
Affaire de Coeur

Contents
Chapter One
THE WAGER

Karelia Province
Grand Duchy of Finland
April 1874

The last goblet had, long before, been flung aside in toast and joined the brilliant display of broken crystal gracing the stone hearth. There, the litter of crystalline shards reflected and transformed the firelight into a dazzling, fluttering phosphorescence. A few surviving candles guttered low in their branches while the shattered stumps of others bore mute evidence of Prince Nikolai’s capricious fancy for a contest of marksmanship several hours earlier.

Now, on a low stage at one end of the large room, a weary group of musicians continued playing wild, haunting Gypsy music, while nervously watching the brooding face of their master, the young prince. They hoped to successfully anticipate or assuage Prince Kuzan’s mercurial moods and thus avoid, at least this night, any more dangerous whims.

At times like these, when the tedium of the world was too much with him, the Prince retired to his hunting lodge to brood upon the melancholy inequities.

Nikki’s hunting lodge was a timber and stone villa constructed by local artisans in the early years of the seventeenth century. A Swedish noble had this retreat built for himself, situating it prettily on a rocky rise in a pine forest. The terraced gardens, in the Italian manner, were added by a later heir after a tour of Italy. With the advent of the romantic English garden, yet another descendant landscaped acres and acres of forest, transforming the wilderness with an extravagant hand and the toil of hundreds of laborers over ten years into charming green alleys, wide vistas of rolling terrain, crowning the elaborate scheme dramatically with a Greek temple perched on a distant grassy knoll. The local stonemasons had erected a reasonable facsimile in rough-hewn granite, a rustic but altogether lovely interpretation symptomatic of the then-fashionable rage devoted to whimsical follies.

BOOK: Seized by Love
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