Like too many Harlequin Blazes, Into Temptation isn’t really a “red-hot read.” Unlike most Blazes, the story is strong enough that it’s still a good one. The fourth and best book so far in the White Star series, it’s an action-packed cat-and-mouse chase set against the backdrop of a half-dozen international cities.
To most of the world, Joshua Benedict is simply a successful international businessman who moves in high-powered circles. MI6 Agent Lindy Gardner knows better. In truth, he works as a “fixer” for criminal mastermind Henri Renouf. Joshua is an expert at resolving unexpected situations and arranging illegal transactions, while leaving no proof behind to implicate anyone involved. After tracking him for six months, Lindy has plenty of dirt on him, but he’s merely the means to an end. Her bosses want Renouf to go down for his various misdeeds, and her mission is to get Joshua to turn against his boss. She tracks him down in New York City and delivers an ultimatum: cooperate with her against Renouf, or she’ll expose his own criminal activities.
Joshua long ago sold his soul for a better life, and he knows that Renouf won’t hesitate to eliminate him if he even suspects Joshua has been compromised. That doesn’t mean he believes Lindy’s claims that she can provide him with protection and a new identity. Trapped in an impossible situation, he takes off, testing her to see just how good she really is. Lindy wastes no time picking up the chase and proving she’s up to the task. As the author writes: “The man wanted to play hide-and-seek, and the world was a bloody big playground. But it happened to be a playground Lindy knew well.”
And with that, they’re off on a series of adventures that take them across Europe, getting into perilous situations, getting back out with only their wits to help them, and of course flirting all the way. It’s the kind of story – smart people doing clever things – that I very much enjoy when done well, and here, it is. Joshua and Lindy are two well-matched opponents. I loved that she was just as strong and intelligent as he was, and they both get ample opportunities to demonstrate that. Every time he gets away, she catches him again, and the battle of wits is a delight to watch unfold.
These characters are the kind of cool sophisticates who spend much of their time presenting unflappable facades, so some readers may have trouble feeling emotionally connected to them. Personally, I was enjoying their cleverness and ingenuity too much to mind. They’re both intriguing and unusual people, especially an antihero like Joshua, and the chemistry between them is strong. In the end, the author offers enough glimpses of their inner selves to work for me, and the ending signs of growth are quite nice. The plot moves quickly, offering plenty of action and excitement. I particularly liked the little blurbs the author uses to introduce each new city, a brief line to capture the setting and establish the mood for what’s about to happen there.
This may be the rare miniseries book that works better if you haven’t been following the series than if you have. It opens in a way that doesn’t require any knowledge of the previous books and is generally told in such a seamless way that this could be the first one. It’s clear that a famous amulet named the White Star has been stolen and Joshua has been dispatched to New York to retrieve it, but that could just as easily be the case without any earlier books telling about the theft and what happened in the interim. For the most part, Jeanie London introduces a completely new cast of characters and uses the familiar in a way that shouldn’t have newcomers feeling left out. However, while my memory could be deceiving me, I’m not sure the beginning of this book completely matches up with the end of the last one (most specifically, the whereabouts of the White Star itself), which made it somewhat jarring as someone who has been following the series.
As for the level of sensuality, I didn’t really see anything here that would push it out of “Warm” territory. They exchange his-and-hers oral sex, but there’s nothing too explicit. Readers only interested in Blazes for super-hot sex may find this book lacking. However, those looking first and foremost for a good story, and I myself am one, will find one here. This is the first book in the White Star series I could see myself wanting to reread sometime. With strong, smart characters, a clever plot, and plenty of excitement, Into Temptation is a fun ride.