Desert Isle Keeper
Don't Tempt Me
Loretta Chase rarely lets me down. Very rarely. And, I’m happy to say that Don’t Tempt Me certainly didn’t disappoint. Chase brings all the things she does so well to the table yet again in this one as humor, witty dialogue, and well-fleshed out characters are all present and accounted for.
Lucien de Grey, the Duke of Marchmont has lost a great deal in his lifetime. His parents and his older brother taken from him by death, he was left alone except for the guidance of Lord Lexham, his father’s dear friend, and his massive brood of children, including one Zoe Octavia, the youngest – a renowned runaway. When 12 year-old Zoe disappears on a trip to the eastern Mediterranean, he locks her memory away with the memories of all the others he’d cared for and lost over the years and closes himself off to the world of emotions around him. Until, of course, Zoe shows up on her parents’ doorstep twelve years later.
Zoe was stolen from her family and made second wife to a Pasha’s sickly son, becoming his favorite and most pleasing possession. To survive the intrigue of the harem, she learned to read people by watching, listening, and thinking – skills that allowed her to escape twelve years later. Once reunited with her family, she wants nothing more than to be accepted into British society, marry, and have children. She realizes she must use the skills she learned in the harem to maneuver her way through the tricky process of being accepted among Britain’s elite. Of course, the one to help her do this can be no less than a duke or marquess – namely the Duke of Marchmont.
Out of respect for Lexham, Marchmont agrees to launch Zoe into the Beau Monde and gain an introduction to the Queen. He tries to resist the incredible lust he feels around the woman who is familiar to him, yet so very different in an innocent, yet not so innocent way. Zoe, on the other hand, knows exactly what she wants and uses all her skills to get it, much to Marchmont’s chagrin. As a result, neither can keep their hands to themselves – to this reader’s delight.
Chase does characterizations like no other. Marchmont is removed from emotional entanglements – except for Lexham – and Chase allows the reader to fully understand the motivations for this. He’s blasé about society, yet honorable in his treatment of others, and I was moved by his character. Zoe is a survivor. Her experiences make her goal-oriented and patient and, thus, successful. Still, even though I liked her character, she lacked the emotional pull of his. Because it tends to be a hot button issue, I must disclose that Zoe is a virgin – a widowed virgin, no less. Chase gives explanations for this miraculous phenomenon and, as a reader, I fell for them hook, line, and sinker, so for me it wasn’t a problem. I have to add that Zoe’s four sisters, or the Four Harridans of the Apocalypse as Marchmont refers to them, are scene stealers.
The primary aim of the story is solid: To get Zoe accepted into society. However, once this is accomplished there is a secondary plot and problem to solve that seems tacked on, almost as if the original story wasn’t quite long enough and something else was needed to meet the publisher’s requirements. Though the purpose of the addition is quite clear, it felt somewhat detached from the rest of the story.
Once again, Loretta Chase gives us a solid story with solid characters, combined with humor and originality. Don’t Tempt Me is certainly worth the temptation to read.