Private Lessons

Seducing Sullivan

Good Girls Do! By Julie Elizabeth Leto
(Harl. Tempt. #783, $3.99, PG ) ISBN 0-373-25883-6
Whee! Miranda Carpenter, science professor for Sex and Reproductive Studies, has been nominated for Most Virtuous Woman on Campus as part of Sexual Awareness Week. She isnít sure she really wants the honor, especially after her sister tells all to the campus newspaper, explaining just how very virtuous and sexually inexperienced Miranda is. On the other hand, psychology professor Noah Yeager, who has always been interested in Miranda, is now quite interested and more than willing to help Miranda gain a little more sexual experience.

The two of them go out on a ďdate,Ē accompanied by a student reporter who is covering the story for the campus newspaper. In addition, Miranda has already set some firm rules down about what she expects from this date. Despite these drawbacks, Noah works on showing Miranda the art of a sensual and nominally virtuous flirtation. Since this is a Blaze Temptation, this is a precursor to a considerably less virtuous seduction once the reporter goes home.

Miranda and Noah actually do work on deciding what makes up a serious relationship while they are having lots of sexual fun. Miranda has reservations about men, which Noah manages to overcome. Noah, however, has convinced them both that he is incapable of commitment. He has a failed marriage and one particularly bad previous relationship to prove that he canít have a long-term attachment to anyone. Miranda manages a nice switch from seduced to seducer before the end of the story because she is convinced that Noah is the perfect man for her if he could overcome his commitment inhibitions.

Assuming you can buy the opening premise -- that anyone would have any interest in a Most Virtuous Person on Campus contest OR Sexual Awareness week -- the rest of the story holds together pretty well. Miranda is serious but definitely not stuffy or asexual. Noah thinks of himself as incapable of anything more than a sexual fling, but his behavior toward Miranda is both sexually aware AND protective. He doesnít want to trash her good reputation, which could be a considerable temptation. In fact he likes and respects her virtue - - which is, of course, more than just her ability to say no to sex.

What Noah really wants to do is give her a good sensual experience to replace the bad ones she previously had. He actually fights doing that because of his reputation and his fear that Miranda would misunderstand what he wants. Naturally it turns out that Miranda is a good student as well as a good teacher for sensual experiences. (There must be something to studying sex for your doctorate, right?)

By the end of the contest Miranda is the public winner of the Virtuous Woman on Campus Contest and the private winner as Most Sexually Aware Woman, too. She has even managed to teach Noah more about passionate commitment than he imagined existed. This story tells a provocatively, sexy story about moral virtue, sensual passion and sexual responsibility. Thatís a difficult feat, but the author pulls it off with style.

--Irene Williams

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