Author: Betsy Prioleau
Publication Information: Hardcover, 2013, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., isbn 9780393068375
Genre: Nonfiction/Relationships/Cultural History
Description: Swoon is a glittering pageant of charismatic ladies’ men from Casanova to Lord Byron to Albert Camus to Ashton Kutcher. It challenges every preconceived idea about great lovers and answers one of history’s most vexing questions: What do women want?
Contrary to popular myth and dogma, the men who consistently beguile women belie the familiar stereotypes: satanic rake, alpha stud, slick player, Mr. Nice, or big-money mogul. As Prioleau, the author of Seductress, points out in this surprising, insightful study, legendary ladies’ men are a different, complex special altogether, often without looks or money. They fit no known template and possess a cache of powerful exotic secrets.
While these men run the gamut, they radiate joie de vivre, intensity and sex appeal; above all, they adore women. They listen, praise, amuse, and delight, and they know their way around the bedroom. And they’ve finessed the hardest part: locking in and revving desire. Women never tire of these fascinators and often, like Casanova’s conquests, remain besotted for life. [from the flap copy]
What I liked: As a former romance editor, I was immediately intrigued when I heard about this book. I have always been a firm opponent of the arrogant hero who is obnoxious and condescending to the heroine for the whole book, yet she is expected to (and does) fall into his arms at the end, so was eager to hear more about men who use charm and appreciation of women who conquer and win hearts. I particularly enjoyed the range of subjects the author investigates from Gershwin (who “lacked the requisite matinee-idol looks” but charmed through ebullience and a special joy in life), Robert Louis Stevenson (who knew he was beloved by many women, I had a vision of him as a sort of Dungeons and Dragons geek), and David Niven (the British actor, who was a chronic womanizer described as “delicious as French pastry” – although I never saw him in his prime, I have no trouble believing this), and much more.
She describes author Kingsley Amis, who charmed everyone in sight during a teaching stint at Princeton with his British accent and sense of the ridiculous (and later married Elizabeth Jane Howard, whose Cazalet Chronicles will appeal to Downton Abbey enthusiasts).
Fans of modern romances will enjoy the references to Patricia Gaffney (a friend from my Topaz days), Susan Elizabeth Phillips (a friend from my Avon days), Lisa Kleypas, Jennifer Cruisie, Jane Green, and Megan Chance, among others.
The author’s credentials are impressive: a Ph.D. in Literature from Duke, one of my alma maters, and is published by Norton, which in and of itself, is a great recommendation.
Prioleau addresses the issue of the cold, professional seducer, arguing that “[a]n authentic woman-charmer doesn’t despise his conquests or seek their destruction.” Of course, that type does exist – maybe he requires another book!
What I disliked: I found the organization of the book a little confusing which made it fun to read as a browse but meant I relied on the index when looking for a specific topic. This did not detract from my enjoyment, however.
Source: I received this book from TLC Book Tours, which gave me a copy to give away. Please leave a comment if you would like it. Here are links to other stops on the tour.
Monday, March 4th: Scandalous Women (this is one of my favorite blogs)
Tuesday, March 5th: Enchanted by JosephineThursday, March 7th: A Bookish Affair
Monday, March 11th: The Blog of Litwits
Tuesday, March 12th: In the Hammock
Thursday, March 14th: Jenny Loves to Read
Friday, March 15th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Monday, March 18th: Dolce Bellezza
Tuesday, March 19th: Book Addict Katie
Wednesday, March 20th: Stiletto Storytime
Thursday, March 21st: Unabridged Chick
Friday, March 22nd: Books a la Mode – author guest post
Monday, March 25th: Man of La Book
Tuesday, March 26th: Literally Jen
Wednesday, March 27th: Peppermint Ph.D.
Thursday, March 28th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Monday, April 1st: A Chick Who Reads