All I Want
For Christmas

Caught in the Act

Duets 23

Fantasy

Gabe

In Too Deep

Jordan

Little Miss Innocent

Morgan

Sawyer

Scandalized!

Sex Appeal

Sizzle

Treat Her Right

Wanton

Wild

 
Too Much Temptation by Lori Foster
(Kensington, $14.00, NC-17) ISBN 0-7582-0084-6
**
Noah Harper has just caught his fiancée in bed with another man and he’s downright ecstatic about it! He promptly realizes that while he cares for Kara, he doesn’t love her - having fallen into their engagement out of obligation to his manipulative grandmother. Wanting nothing more than to revel in his newfound freedom, he decides a hot, sweaty roll in the hay with a woman he can call the shots with is just what he needs.

Oh, if it were only that simple. When Granny Harper learns of the broken engagement, she’s irate. She disowns Noah, firing him from his managerial position at the family restaurant, and as overseer of her financial holdings. When Granny’s personal assistant hears the news, she’s horrified. Grace Jenkins drops everything and runs off to be by Noah’s side.

Grace has been half in love with Noah ever since she started working for Granny. She’s never done anything about these feelings, as Noah is way out of her league. Certainly a handsome specimen like Noah wouldn’t find virginal, sweet, chubby Grace desirable? Silly Grace. This is Romance Novel Land after all. When Noah proposes the idea that they develop a just-sex relationship, Grace is more than willing.

Never have I wanted to like a book more. Heck, I even volunteered to review it. However problems with the story soon became abundantly clear - the most troublesome being the manipulative-family-member-determined-to-get-their-own-way plot device. Granny Harper is really manipulative; it’s hard to take her character very seriously. She spends the bulk of the novel belittling Grace and trying to push Noah back into Kara’s arms. The woman is unsympathetic to the point that I kept thinking how great it would be if Noah would place her in one of those abusive nursing homes one hears about on the nightly news.

I wanted to like Grace. I can count on one hand the number of romance novels I’ve read that feature heroines who aren’t a size 2. Too bad Grace has about as much backbone as a jellyfish. Before she starts experiencing mind-blowing sex with Noah, Grace is shy and lacks self-esteem. A little attention from Noah and suddenly men are panting after her like dogs. It all smacks dangerously too close to a-woman-needs-a-man-to-be-fulfilled territory for my liking. She also refuses to fight back. When others, especially Granny, say cruel things to her, she not only doesn’t tell them off, she makes excuses for them!

As for the Noah, I’m afraid my opinion of him was colored early on when he decides to get over the Kara episode by screwing another woman so he could be the dumper instead of the dumpee. Terribly mature no? Once he’s boinking Grace, he immediately becomes unreasonably possessive and jealous. I think this was supposed to illustrate that he was falling in love with her - I found it kind of creepy.

The one shining light in this story is Ben Harper, Noah’s younger, yummy half-brother. Unlike Noah, he’s more than eager to tell Granny Moneybags just what he thinks of her. His roguish charm and fierce pride should make more than a few bad-boy-hero lovers weak in the knees.

With a tired, unbelievable plot device, a spineless heroine, and slightly jerky hero, this reader found Too Much Temptation simply resistible. Although it’s likely Kensington will have the last laugh - I was so intrigued by Ben that I’ll likely plunk down a future $14 to read the planned sequel.

--Wendy Crutcher


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