This exhaustive study of the hows, whys, and wherefores of seductive men ranges from ancient to modern, from the sublime to the ridiculous, and from literature to real life. Bite-size tidbits from the legends of ancient Greece bump into fantasy story lines from contemporary American romance novels. In addition to her copious research, Prioleau (Seductress) interviews real-life men with reputations as successful seducers in an effort to understand their powers. There’s Michael “The King,” apparently invincible; Nick the Fireman, “a man who gives off licks of electricity” as a result of his charisma; George Reese, the conversationalist who “conjures enchantment—of a prepotent kind”; Gustin, the Darien, Conn., cab driver, who has “more female adulation at sixty-seven than he knows what to do with.” Prioleau draws endlessly on the work of experts: evolutionary psychologists, neuropsychiatrists, social anthropologists, sociolinguists, a Harlequin Romance editor, philosophers, sex researchers, the occasional personal trainer and more. She is so committed to her research that on one page alone she breathlessly cites Havelock Ellis, Ortega y Gasset, the Sumerian deity Dmuzi, Dionysus, Milan Kundera, psychologists, popular romance, David Niven, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Queen Elizabeth I. But rather than an engaging romp, the book is set at such a frantic pace as to be charmless, head-spinning, and exhausting. 12 illus. Agent: Lynn Nesbit, Janklow & Nesbit. (Feb).