Tempt Me Twice
Barbara Dawson Smith’s latest release, Tempt Me Twice, offers excellent characters in a solid plot with a believable and enjoyable love story. Only a few minor details kept this from being a keeper for me, and as it is, I’ve definitely found a new author to glom.
Kate Talisford threw herself at Lord Gabriel Kenyon four years ago, partially out of misguided adoration for the rake, and partially to keep him from taking her scholarly father off to Africa to search for a lost city. Her pride won’t allow her to admit that she still feels an attraction for him when he reappears after her father’s mysterious death, nor will it allow her to accept his guardianship – or his control.
Gabriel was once a carefree young man with dreams of glory in far off places. Since then, he’s seen his closest friend murdered, and carries the guilt of knowing he could have been there to prevent that murder, but wasn’t. Now he finds himself the guardian of the very young woman who has haunted his memory since the night she offered herself to him four years ago: The woman he must protect from the same dangers that destroyed her father. The woman he is forbidden to touch. The woman he can’t stop thinking about.
The characters are memorable and delightful, even down to the evil but somewhat generic devil-worshipping villain. The trio of older women known as the Rosebuds are the connecting factor in what is obviously to be a series of stories, starting with this book’s predecessor, Romancing The Rogue, about Gabe’s older brother Michael and his unforgettable gypsy bride Vivien. Gabe and Michael’s grandmother Lucy and her fellow Rosebuds appear at times, resembling no one so much as the good fairies from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, yet they become fuller and more interesting as the story progresses, and there are hints that later books will reveal even more of this intriguing trio.
As for Kate and Gabriel, they are terrific as well. She’s the independent bluestocking forced to accept aid from the man who scorned her years ago. He’s the seeming social butterfly determined to prove to himself and his long-dead parents that he is more than they believed of him. Gabe and Kate’s love is believable and strong, but perhaps could have been strengthened by a real obstacle or two. In reality, they pretty much had everything going for them, and even Gabe’s standard-issue objection of “I’m not the marrying kind” barely lasted as long as it took him to pronounce it.
The plot was intriguing, and even slightly suspenseful, with Kate’s young, innocent sister Meg providing foil to the villainous Damson, and the means by which the hero and heroine – and the reader – are kept on the edge of their seats, so to speak. Except for a “yeah, right” moment involving what seems to be the death of a character late in the story, the plot is believable and well-paced. There’s even a nice little twist toward the end.
All in all, Tempt Me Twice has all the markings of an entertaining and worthwhile read, and I highly recommend it.