This is the second book of a trilogy in Lucy Monroe’s first attempt at writing historicals. I read the first book, Touch Me, and gave it a C in my personal database, but thought Monroe showed some promise. Reading Tempt Me changed my mind about that.
To get out of marrying a man old enough to be her grandfather, Lady Irina, sixteen years old and the Earl of Langley’s daughter, threatened to make public the family secret: her father cast off his first wife, who subsequently moved to the West Indies, and then married his current wife, Irina’s mother, long before his first wife was dead. Not only did Irina get out of that marriage, she extracted a promise to be allowed to choose her own husband.
Four years later, she is being slowly and circumspectly courted by Lucas, the Earl of Ashton, aka “The Saint” for his very proper and correct ways. He is determined to live down his scandalous mother and brother and restore his family’s name. He chose Irina for she seems to be the perfect lady – beautiful and demure, sweet and kind – with the added bonus that she brings out a surprising lust in him, which he wills himself to control.
Irina has a major crush on Lucas and is thrilled when he proposes, though worried about whether he will still want her when he learns about her illegitimacy. When Lucas talks to her father, the earl tells him some, but not all, of the family history, and Lucas assures Irina he knows all about it, so she believes that he doesn’t care about her birth.
During their six week engagement both are surprised at what each learns of the other; Lucas that Irina has a bit of a stubborn streak and a mind of her own – she invests her own money, she wishes to learn to drive, just like his fast mother did – horrors! And Irina learns, to her chagrin, that Lucas is far more stuffy and rigid than she believed.
This all leads to many – many – little and big misunderstandings, which got tiresome very quickly. Here’s one, which recurs far too often: Irina thinks that Lucas isn’t attracted to her physically because he won’t touch or kiss her, when he is really afraid to lest his passion overtake him. Her efforts to initiate intimacy cause him to think she’s as fast as his awful mother. They try to talk to each other, but they wind up talking around each other with the result that nothing is resolved and each becomes more entrenched in their beliefs. Multiply this by twenty such incidents and reading Tempt Me felt like just so much wheel-spinning with no forward momentum.
Lucas was one of the most annoying heroes I’ve read in some time. He is very paternalistic and controlling, running roughshod over Irina while he calls her “little one.” I hate that. To her credit, Irina, whom I liked better (except for that time she donned the stable boy’s breeches and ran out into the night on some wild hare), tries to talk to Lucas before the wedding and even tries to break the engagement when she realizes that she can’t live with such highhanded treatment, but, while he attempts to understand her, he ends up ignoring her objections, saying, “everything will be fine once we’re married.” I hate that even more. Run, Irina, run!
And, of course Lucas will discover the truth about Irina’s birth, and of course there will be a blackmail plot, and of course Lucas just happens to be a former spy so he’s equipped to deal with it all, and of course everyone will live Happily Ever After, and of course I didn’t buy it for one second. And neither should you. My recommendation? Give Tempt Me a pass.