Season for Temptation
by Theresa Romain
(Zebra, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-1-4201-1895-7
Julia and James have a very ill fated chemistry to deal with in Season for Temptations.

Set amid the romantic Victorian Christmas backdrop, which is very well detailed and lovely to read, Julia is shocked to meet her stepsister Louisa’s fiancé James and find that he is charming, likable and adorable.

Julia would have thought that the new Viscount Matheson would be stuffy, prepossessing and tedious but she finds that she can have a wonderful conversation with him. She is taken aback by his wit and his warmth, and she promptly decides that she would love to marry someone just like him. Julia’s surprised by her attraction to Louisa’s fiancé, but decides to be happy for her and try to put aside her own budding feelings for James.

Louisa’s happy to introduce James to her family, he is so suitable and gentlemanly. However, Louisa worries about marrying a peer, she doesn’t know how she will measure up to the ton’s standards. She’s also concerned about how she and James will get along; their courtship was so proper and fast that she hardly knows a thing about him. Of course, she won’t mention any of this to James, as she has no idea how he’ll feel about any of it, and besides it wouldn’t be proper to mention her insecurities about their upcoming union.

James knows he has marry fairly quickly – and to a suitable girl – and so his pursuit of Louisa was safe and easy. Now, he’s arrived at the Herington household to clinch the deal with Mr. Herington. He never expected to meet Julia, an impetuous sprite of a woman who intrigues him and tempts him, while Louise, his betrothed, pales beside her. James knows that duty calls and that he must follow the dictates of society to secure his new title.

Can Julia’s temptations cause him to spurn tradition and hurt Louisa, while he’s not even certain how she feels for him? Is there even a way that there can be a happy ending for this family, as no one seems to be particularly pleased with their choices?

While I loved some elements of Season for Temptation, there were a number of things that I definitely did not love at all, and I will tell you why I had a difficult time getting through this novel.

James and Julia are both sickeningly proper and restrained. While I understand that their behavior is probably realistic for the time period, it makes the whole attraction and flirting and growing relationship storyline feel really faked to me. James is supposed to be so attracted to Julia but his careful attitude and actions seem to make that supposition a lie. Julia, who is purported to be impetuous, veering almost into bluestocking territory, does not seem to be so to me. They both kind of end up looking like dried up caricatures of themselves and that in itself made the tale extremely hard to like.

When their relationship turns into a more romantic one at points, it jarred me as it seemed like they disregarded their earlier propriety and literally lost their minds. It didn’t come off as romantic, only shallow and grasping.

I did like James and Julia’s early interactions, such as their first meeting, which was both charming and sweet. I also really liked the details included in the storytelling, such as the Christmas traditions that were explained and shown in the story. The backdrop was very well fleshed out and enjoyable. It was disappointing to me that the main story was so stilted and uncomfortable, and for that reason I can’t recommend Season for Temptation.

--Amy Wroblewsky

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