Swoon: Great Seducers and Why Women Love Them by Betsy Prioleau

swoon-coverThe cover is gorgeous, no? And the title sucks you in, yes? Exactly my thoughts when I selected this novel to review for the lovely TLC Book Tours. I love that TLC is bringing my attention to some nonfiction, cultural anthropology works that I always crave reading, but never bite the bullet and pick up on my own.

Swoon does exactly what it says it’s going to and delves into the traits that seem to attract women to what are known as ladies’ men. You know those men, the ones who are constantly swarmed by harems of adoring females. And most of the time you can’t put your finger on what is so mesmerizing about these guys. Some are good looking, sure, but some are absolutely horrid looking. How many movies have we seen where ugly guys get the girls? How does this happen?

Prioleau has done her research! She’s read histories of great Lotharios such as Casanova and met face-to-face with men who are currently making their own histories all over the world! She also doesn’t shy away from modern romance literature and the Hollywood celebrities that women adore so much. The book is separated into small sections discussing one particular trait at a time  such as laughter, charisma, character, and sense-of-self. She breaks down previous stereotypes of the common bad boy womanizer and uncovers that most sought after men actually love and respect women, have wonderful relationships with their mothers and sisters, and that the brain might just be the sexiest organ alive!

The great thing for me while reading this novel was the conversation it garnered between me and my husband. We spent more than one dinner discussing the traits that Prioleau believes makes knees melt. He would alternately get defensive and agreeable. We would bicker and then laugh! He’s been pleading with me to read a book from the opposite perspective to balance out the views – and Prioleau wrote that exact book before this one, so I might need to pick it up soon.

I also enjoyed thinking about whether these traits in men worked for me, personally. And most did! I love a strong personality, a quick mind, and laughter! I’m also not shocked to learn that sex matters big time and that the most successful men always focus on female pleasure first. This makes us sound a little selfish, doesn’t it ladies? But I’m still not surprised.

So much to love here, but not everything was perfect. I did feel that certain sections were a bit repetitive and that the book could have used a tighter editing. But even the repetitive sections used fresh examples and gave new historical facts and interludes to enjoy. I also think this book needs to be tempered with the opposing perspective so that you don’t come away thinking only women are silly little creatures willing to give up husbands and children for the sake of enjoying time spent with some modern day Casanova. And so many women did just that!

So go read Swoon! If for no other reason than to learn juicy little tidbits about the sexiest of sexy men such as Lord Byron, Jack London, Sam Cooke, and many more!!

I’m thrilled to be able to give away one copy of Swoon to some very lucky reader! Just fill out the form here and I’ll announce a winner Sunday, March 17th! Residents of the US and Canada only, please.


Thanks so much to TLC Book Tours and Norton for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review! You can check out the rest of the tour here!

About the Author:

Betsy-Prioleau-Photo-1-198x300Betsy Prioleau is the author of Circle of Eros (Duke University Press) Seductress: Women Who Ravished the World and Their Lost Art of Love(Penguin/Viking), and most recently, Swoon:  Great Seducers and Why Women Love Them (W. W. Norton, 2013).  She has a Ph.D. in literature from Duke University, was a tenured associate professor at Manhattan College, and taught cultural history at New York University.  She has written numerous essays on literature, relationships, and sexuality. She lives in New York City.

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